Let’s look ahead and move forward!

Riko Sakai, 5th Grade, Kadonowaki Elementary School

The water’s here! It’s here! The water’s here!!!

On June 10, 2013 we interviewed Hirotada Ototake, an author, who came to visit Higashimatsushima for a lecture.
Ototake first visited the disaster area in early May 2011. The footage he saw on the TV and internet seemed just like a movie, and didn’t give him a real sense of the disaster. However when he went through the debris at the site of the disaster in his wheelchair, seeing the broken spectacles and one half of a pair of slippers made him feel that "There used to be people living here." Ototake, who worked as an elementary school teacher for 3 years, visited Okawa Elementary School. He was pained by how the peaceful lives of the students and teachers were destroyed in an instant by the force of the tsunami.
“I was born without hands and feet. Most people might think this is a terrible, pitiful thing, but thanks to the people around me I feel happy to have been born in a body like this. When the children in Ishinomaki grow up, I want them to think of the disaster in a positive way; that they are who they are because the earthquake happened. And I feel strongly that, in order for the children to be able to think this way, us adults must encourage them to think like this. If there is something you want to do, please give it your all, without letting the disaster make you think it’s impossible.”
What does he think the meaning of education is? “I think study is the preparation for becoming able to realize your dreams, when you haven’t decided what kind of business you want to be in, or how you want to contribute to society through your work in the future.”
 He advised us that we should learn how to properly express our feelings in time for becoming adults. Whether we’re happy, sad, angry or delighted, it’s important to be able to let others know how we feel. It’s good to proactively let people know what you want to do, rather than just doing what you are told.
 On his days off Ototake goes to listen to “rakugo” and plays with his 2 sons. Clearly he is brimming with the vitality to live optimistically!
(Translation: Kyoko Eguchi, Brian Neo and Charlie Marshall, Jennifer Hikari Dixon )