Friday, September 12, 2014

One of the most meaningful opportunities I was able to experience during my year abroad was being hired to produce this promotional video for Takamasa, a fish cake factory in Onagawa City.

This city suffered incredibly under the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Northern Japan in 2011.  Steep hills on both sides of the city funneled the waves to up to three times the height seen elsewhere.  Even the city hospital built on top of a large hill overlooking the city had its entire first floor washed out.  When I first looked out at the ruins of Onagawa in 2012, I had extreme difficulty believing that waves could ever reach such an incredible height, and even more so, could not comprehend the misery and sorrow of the beautiful seaside town of Onagawa that had once stood in what was then desolate ruins.  A few months ago during my visit in 2014, I could see incredible signs of improvement and life returning to the city and it's reignited fishing industry for which it is so famous for.

It is still very much a city in recovery, but I could sense an incredible amount of energy and drive in the kindhearted and lively residents who I had the chance to interact with.  Most notable were the amazing people who I met at Takamasa.  Although it's factory was not directly destroyed, Takamasa's supply chain and workers were thrown into disarray and had to halt production for a period of time.  It was only recently that full production of this factory was able to resume and many of the workers in this factory still live in temporary housing shelters. However, none of these factors hold Takamasa back from being one of the most famous fish cake companies in all of Northern Japan.  Its workers were kind and hardworking,  its standards of quality and cleanliness were beyond anything I have ever seen, and its products were truly mouth watering.  Many challenges still face this small city, but the strength and livelyhood of this wonderful factory illustrate Onagawa's determination to make a full revival.

Though challenging, producing this video was an adventure for me and I am so thankful to have been able to share in Onagawa's path to recovery.

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