This is my first blog post! I am so happy to be sitting down and writing about my days here in Onagawa.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Devyn. I am from the US and I was born in New Jersey. The past four years though, I have lived on a tiny island in Maine, which is where I go to college. I study Human Ecology, which focuses on the ways that humans interact with all the things that make up the world around them.
This is my second visit to Japan, and I am here doing independent research for my winter trimester of college. Last summer I spent a few weeks learning about recovery and revitalization in Fukushima as part of a school program called HELIO. There is so much that disasters reveal about the human condition, about how we connect and help each other, and about how we see ourselves within our communities. It was realizing this that made me want to come back.
This was something that I became really interested in. I decided this winter to dedicate my studies to learn broadly about community revival in the Tohoku region.
I have spent the past 6 days in Onagawa. My time here has been such a dream come true.
I love the sleepy train that goes into the town.
I have learned about recovery in the region. The participatory governance that is used in Onagawa inspires me so much.
I visited the Nuclear PR center. In the US we don’t have PR center for our nuclear plants. I am so shocked to see that there is an opportunity to learn about Nuclear Energy. Very cool.
I have made beautiful friends who have shown me an immense amount of kindness and laughs. Thank you. And thank you for graciously accepting my poor Japanese (I’m working on it, I promise).
I listened to good music and ate good ramen.
I have walked by the sea and felt the sunshine.
I spent time with locals who shared with me their stories and dreams.
I have eaten the most amazing seafood I have ever had in my life.
I got to have a drink with the mayor, which I think is the coolest thing ever. It’s really special. I have never even seen my mayor of my hometown in New Jersey.
Sometimes, it can feel very lonely to travel by yourself, surrounded by a new language and culture and landscape. In my initial weeks in Japan, I struggled with feeling connected to my new environment and community. But being in Onagawa, I wake up each morning filled with gratitude because it has given me a connection and wonderful memories I will keep close to me.
I want to say how inspired I am by this place. And I want to express my gratitude for every person I have met so far and for being able to visit. Especially to my friend Yukiko <3 Thank you.