日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【June 2019 No.403】Kyoto District Church Holds Special Event on Earthquakes


“From Miyagi Prefecture to Kumamoto: How baked Sweet Potatoes Connect two Earthquakes” was the theme of an earthquake-preparedness gathering sponsored by Kyoto Aoi Church in Kyoto District.

It has been eight years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and three years since the Kumamoto Earthquake. In a country like Japan, where there are numerous earthquakes, this could happen again anywhere. Kyoto Aoi Church held a special event on Jan. 20, 2019 in an effort to learn more about the reality of earthquakes and what to do when an earthquake occurs. Suenaga Tsuyoshi and Horita Naotaka were invited to speak. Both men experienced earthquakes and have traveled all around Japan sharing those experiences. They told the 45 of us, including children, of their experiences and the current conditions in the areas affected. As a way of raising funds to support relief work in Kumamoto, baked sweet potatoes were prepared for the participants.


As a resident of Miyagi Prefecture, Suenaga experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake. However, as a volunteer at the Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, he also took part in relief efforts. From his experiences, he spoke about the response required following an earthquake.


When the Kumamoto Earthquake occurred, Horita was working at the Nishihara Town Office and took leadership in ensuring that 800 residents of the town were taking care of themselves at the local elementary school, which was the designated evacuation shelter. After three years, some normalcy has returned, but they are still in recovery, and rebuilding in some areas has yet to begin. At the home of Horita’s parents, who are sweet potato farmers, the storehouse where sweet potatoes are stored for their final ripening was destroyed. As a farming family that has continued over several generations, they are in the midst of efforts to rebuild and continue farming.


Geographically, Kyoto is quite far from the areas affected by the two earthquakes. However, listening to the personal accounts of Suenaga and Horita, the participants could keenly sense the reality of earthquakes. In particular, the following words of the speakers stayed with us. “At the time of an earthquake, of utmost importance are the personal relationships of those affected. In the midst of an emergency, communication with people leads to peace of mind, and peace of mind then leads to solidarity.”


The baked sweet potatoes that were sold at the event were grown on the farm of Horita’s parents. Suenaga, who came to Kumamoto as a volunteer from Miyagi, had become acquainted with Horita’s parents. Since that time, Suenaga has traveled across the country selling sweet potatoes that he bakes on hot stones in a small truck he has remodeled for that purpose.


Suenaga’s relationship with Kyoto Aoi Church began because the pastor of Kyoto Aoi Church, Rev. Uchiyama Tomoya, was also a volunteer at Emmaus in Sendai. While we learned about the considerable damage left in the wake of these earthquakes, we also learned how people have been connected through these experiences. (Tr. JS)

                  —From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), April 2019


宮城県から熊本へ 焼き芋がつなぐ2つの震災







 末永さんと京都葵教会がつながったのも、当教会の内山友也牧師が仙台の「エマオ」でボランティアをしたことからだ。大きな傷を残した震災だが、人と人をつなげていることを知る機会ともなった。(まとめ 編集部)「信徒の友4月号」より

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