ITNAV Walking Tour

We started our Monday by breaking into smaller groups to do a walking tour of downtown Ishinomaki. Some places we visited include the Ishinomori Manga Museum, a local coffee shop, a temple, the Hagurosantoriya Shrine, and the Makigumi house — a house renovated by one of our other community partners, Makigumi. Namaste, one of the ITNAV members, treated Rachel P. and Rhea to coffee. So far our ITNAV hosts have been extremely welcoming and excited about our work together.
We also learned about an interesting business called Funade. This small shop of handmade accessories and pants was started by the wives of fishermen to create jobs after the tsunami hit in 2011. Everything in the shop is made  from flags of wrecked boats. This is one of the many initiatives taken to support the community.
Many shops and restaurants are situated along Ishinomaki’s traditional side streets, such as the restaurant Hiyori Kitchen and an upcycle store that turns junk into unique showpieces. These side streets are also home to sharehouses, occupied by many of the youth who came to Ishinomaki after the disaster to volunteer. One of these sharehouses has been transformed into a beautiful work of art after having been the site of an art festival.
One of our tour guides, U.K., also shared information about Ishinomaki’s history as we explored the city. According to U.K., Ishinomaki has traditionally been a fishing village was once a significant international trading city. The area was also a part of feudal lord named Date Masamune’s domain during the 1500s.
All in all, we found Ishinomaki to be a peaceful seaside town filled with interesting underlying histories and sincere people. As we walked down the cobblestone streets, we were greeted by each and every person we saw. Sometimes, it was with a slight nod of the head while other times, they launched into full-blown conversations with us. Seeing this city that rose up from a severe disaster through the support of everyone was an inspiring experience that will continue to live on with us and has continued to encourage us to add our support to their cause.