Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.639


March 11th marked the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake in Japan. North East area of Japan(Tohoku area) had enormous damage and more than 20,000 people lost their lives including the missing people and the death related to this disaster in these five years.



The families of victims - are in sorrow - but they seem to be changing as time goes. Many survivers did not talk about their experience before but after five years there seem to be a little change in their mind.

The parents who lost his fifteen-year-old son in the tsunami, attended the Junior High school graduation ceremony some days after the tsunami, the father was holding his son's photo. After the graduation, the parents could not see his son's classmates. The classmates wanted to visit the parents, but they thought they might hurt the parents and thought they did not want to see them. 

After five years, they became twenty years old. The parents of the lost son invited them to their house for supper. The mother cooked her son's favorite food. They said they were not sure they could be all right by seeing their son's classmates who became adults- their son could not become an adult. The son was suddenly gone by being swallowed in tsunami.

They said meeting their young classmates might make them feel too sad and must be hurting and untorerable,  but actually they felt happy to see them and felt as if their son was home. They asked themeto come back any time.

I really cannot imagine if I were the one who lost our child. Trying to imagine if I lose all the families and I was the only one left but it is too painful and too hard to imagine that.

I am not sure if I could keep standing on my feet if I were a surviver, so I just cannot help respecting them and also cannot feel like giving a strong hug, for I cannot find the word to cheer them up.


After the disaster, one woman from Kobe called our office. She said she wants to buy bolts to send to one of the women's sewing group in the damaged area. She saw the products made by the group in one of the antenna shop in her area and found they were using  kimono fabrics.

She asked us to help her to choose fabrics. I suggested colorful bolts-I thought the vivid and cheerful colors must be good. The colors can give some energy and joy. 

She thought so too and we chose some fabrics. She asked us not to tell the group her name. So I sent the bolts and just told the group they are from Mrs. S from Kobe.

They asked me her name and address so they could send thank you note or call her but I promised not to tell that with her, so I could not.

This has been repeating each year- Mrs S calls us twice a year and we choose bolts together and I call Mrs Sano who is the leader of the sewing group to say hello and check the address where to ship the bolts. Mrs Sano asks me  who is sending these bolts and I say I cannot tell- this happens each time. 

Mrs Sano who started this sewing group (Iidate Carnation no kai) is sick and cannot do the activitiy as she used to but the group members are still get together and continue sewing. By the activity, women who were in the bottom of sadness and shut themselves at home started to come and do sewing together.

They have many kimono donated from everyone over Japan, but I heard many of them are quiet colors, and also to make them as material, they need to unstitch, which is quite a work. `We do not like to waste the kimono sent by good intention, and try to use even the small pieces', Mrs Sano says. `However, the `colorful' and `fine' patterns which are suitable for sewing project are not so many  among the kimono sent here to be honest.' The kimono bolts with vivid and cheerful colors seemed to be so appreciated. 

It is a precious time- when Mrs S calls. We choose bolts carefully and think about the women in Tohoku area. Mrs S says she likes to continue this and calls us when she has some money for this. We add more fabrics in the box  (I asked her if I could join her) and ship and talks with Mrs Sano of the women's group on the phone. 

This is small thing but  this is what we can continue and we are so grateful to Mrs S from Kobe for her call, which gave us this relationship with the women in Tohoku.