Mon. Mar. 27, 2017
NIPPON STYLE: Reviving Tohoku - Six Years Later
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Six years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami struck the Tohoku region of Japan on March 11, 2011. In this episode, we meet three residents of Kesennuma, Miyagi, who have poured their efforts into bringing hope and life back to the hard-hit region.

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"Swordfish Jeans" Give Back
We meet Hiroshi Oikawa, president of jeans manufacturer Oikawa Denim in Kesennuma. The tsunami washed away his family home and company warehouse that stored 5,000 pairs of jeans. Some time after the tsunami struck, a pair of the jeans was found twenty kilometers from the factory, with all of the thread in tact. Nicknamed "Recovery Jeans", the pair became a sign of hope for local residents and Oikawa regained confidence in the quality of their denim products. Hearing from a local fisherman that bills of swordfish caught in Kesennuma were discarded, Oikawa spent two years producing jeans that incorporated the bills in shredded form, into the denim fiber. Learn how "swordfish jeans" are bringing energy back to a once-devastated town.

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Connecting Through Yarn – One Woman's Wish
German-born Martina Umemura was living in Kyoto when the earthquake struck Tohoku. Searching for any way to help the affected regions, she sent up parcels of yarn to shelters with the hope they would provide people with an activity (as well as warm knitted goods) to fill their long days and nights. Two months after the disaster, she received a message from a Kesennuma shelter thanking her for the yarn, and a request, if possible, for additional yarn. Umemura was thrilled, and a connection was born.
A year after the quake, Umemura went one step further and started a knitting company in Kesennuma. Her intention was to create work for the women of the town. Two years later, she opened a shop in town, and the number of employees has now increased from three to ten. See how one knitting company is helping in the town's recovery.

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Dreaming of "Kesennuma Blue" Indigo Dye
Sayaka Fujimura made her move to Kesennuma when she married a man from the town. As a former business owner, she felt compelled to help a struggling indigo dye studio in Kesennuma, taking over and opening Indigo Dye Studio OCEAN BLUE in 2015. With a small child at home, her hope was to create a work environment with young mothers in mind. She was new to indigo dye, but became smitten with the craft, and is now working to grow her own indigo to create a blue hue that is unique to the area. Her woad indigo farm is just starting to sprout, as her road to finding a special "Kesennuma Blue" continues.


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Behind the Scenes

For this episode's Nippon Style segment, we head to the fishing town of Kesennuma, Miyagi. It's a peaceful sight now, but six years ago on March 11th, this town was devastated by the tsunami.

Behind the Scenes

The tsunami struck an elementary school near the ocean, shattering all the windows up to the third floor. A car that was swept right into the school by the tidal wave remains. The photo shows that the fourth floor escaped damage, and luckily, no one was injured or killed at this site. This elementary school remains standing as a reminder to appreciate life and understand the full force of Mother Nature.

Behind the Scenes

This pine tree on the cape also survived the tsunami. The winding stem and broken branches resemble a dragon, earning the nickname "dragon pine".
It's become a symbol of hope and rebuilding.

Behind the Scenes

About 70% of all restaurants in Kesennuma were washed away by the tsunami. As a fishing town bustling with ships entering the port, local eateries are an important part of life here. Thus, the "Yatai Mura", or "food stand village" was born, with small eateries opening for business in temporary bungalows.

Behind the Scenes

So let's try some delicious local food. This is "sea squirt" sashimi! Does it look a little scary to you? It's actually crunchy and delicious, with a subtle sweetness and straight-from-the-ocean freshness. Pair it with Japanese sake, and you just won't be able to stop.

Behind the Scenes

Marie tried on an indigo dye apron brought directly from Kesennuma. The fabric is extremely durable, and with many designs to choose from, it's a very popular souvenir among tourists!

- Producer Yoyo


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