The Social Welfare Association of Kamaishi City, which was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, offers a place called “Ochakko” where people living in temporary housing can gather for a tea break and spend a relaxing time chatting. “Heartful Tono UCCJ” has organized a monthly flower arrangement day near the day of the month when the disaster occurred. “Look! Look! That’s my style of flower arrangement.” “That’s lovely. And this is my school.” In each of the temporary housing areas, the residents look forward to this time.
Each flower has its own season, color, fragrance, and shape. Each flower triggers a unique memory and image for the participants. Each person searches for his/her own style of flower arrangement and tries to express their memories and image of the disaster in her/his own way.
We heard from volunteer groups that after the first year, the temporary housing residents complained about losing their ability to find words to write or speak and even the ability to speak in a loud voice. The flower arrangement program began as a means of allowing people to express the feelings they could not put into words. It is important to use fresh flowers, not artificial flowers or handicrafts because we believe fresh flowers bring the feeling of healing. Heartful Tono UCCJ is asking for volunteers to help in this work. (Tr. JT)
Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), December 2012 issue