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Making of “Works of Poetry and Art, Rikuzentakata: Overcoming the Great Earthquake and Tsunami”

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Emi & Yumi Yoshida

July 2012

The project started secretly in a temporary classroom in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, Japan. It was during a break time at Komo’s English class@Rikuzentakata, our monthly English coaching class for the tsunami-hit area. Here’s our conversation when all started.

Komo : Hi, I feel … maybe we can create a book of poet and picture drawn by Yoshida twins. Do you have an interest in it?

Hiroko :   (in my mind: Komo is always full of new ideas…) It sounds a good idea. I just had a chance to see the photos of their paintings but agree they are good paintings.  Anyway, I will mke time to visit them to see the paintings.  In parallel,  I started series of preparation such as searching publisher, printing company, cost-estimation, budgeting, etc. I know I was not quite sure if I wanted to take leadership in it, I was involved by Komo – as always.

 

The thing was that we both had absolutely no idea if Yoshida sisters have an interest in this project …. this was the most important part of this project.

I asked Ms O, a big mom of the area to help me approach Yoshida sisters.

I made a first phone call.

 

 

The first phone call with Yoshida twins

Hiroko : I think your poems and paintings will be great contents to create an artbook. You can take as long time as you need. Would you like to try a baby step to realize it?

Emi&Yumi : We are unsure if we can draw that beautiful pictuers… If you say so, we will sketch some motif for the book as a very draft of the picture. You then take a look at themt and  and see the feasibility of the project. You do not need to feel sorry if you find our paintings are good enough to the book and reconsider the project.

Hiroko : Do you need any painting tools and materials?

Emi&Yumi : No, no. We have plenty. But the issue is the work space…

Hiroko : ???

Emi&Yumi : Oil painting, you know, needs space. It takes time to dry. And the colours, …. (Hiroko: I confess that I did not understand the most of the story with my limited knowledge about oil paintings. What I learned though was that they are passionate in paintings and they have space constraint because the temporary houses do not have wide enough space for them to paint, dry and store oil paintings. )

 

August 2012

On 15 Aug, I dropped by Yoshida sisters house during our Dangan Tour (weekend tour to the tsunami-hit area).

It was my first time to see their “real” paintings. Fantastic. I was so impressed by the beauty of the paintings and felt it was a rare opportuity to come across great work which even made me speechless. By the way, this is my favorite painting.

 

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 Koijiga beach, Emi Yoshida

Yoshida sisters showed the paintins which once washed away by the tsunami and rediscovered and returned afterward, and the sketches for the new paintings. I became confident that we, will be able to publish an artbook These paintings deserve appreciation by the broader readers.

It all depends on Emi and Yumi who are very much “artist” from my perspective. I am not talented to create an art, I always felt surprises when dealing with the artistic people. One of my surprises was that how Yoshida sister holds two opposite aspects – (i) energetic and sophisticated paintings and (ii) pure heart like a school child. I came to my answer 4 months after this.

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 Sketch of Takata-matsubara (pine forest), Emi Yoshida

We, Ms M, Mr O, Yoshida sisters and I discussed which poet should go with which painting. Our note was on the backside of a calender. It was like playing house – however one tangible step towards the book.

 

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At the night of the day, we all get together and saw the fireworks produced by Light up Nippon with BBQ. It was my first and the last fireworks during this summar. I was touched by the scene.

 

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September 2012

No information about the progress of the paintings…. I felt Emi’s slight demotivation but did not know what to do. I just waited and wondered that maybe the new fathers would feel the similar way when he is waiting for birth. All what I could do was to wait.

 

October 2012

Surprised!  The sketch of Takata-matsubara (pine forest) turned out to be a wonderful oil paintings. Emi said with smile “The Takata-matsubara was just like this paintings. We strolled in the pipeforest bathing softened sunshine”. Both Emi and Yumi never complain or blame something else. The people in Kesen area (the coastal area in south part of northern Japan) are very patient.

What a beautiful and warm painting! Thank you Emi. I know you draw this theme to show its beauty to those who first visited Rikuzentakata city after the tsunami and never saw the pine forest
By this time, I was able to distingish Emi and Yumi perfectly. Although they resemble pretty much, they are two individuals with unique personality.

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Takata-matsuabra (pine forest)Ⅰ, Emi Yoshida

November 2012

As I felt confident with their progress, we reviewed the page and contents plan and refine them. It was no longer a play. It was serious discussion to select poet and painting and their harmony.  As of Nov, the open issue is poet tittled  “White angel” and a painting to match it. They brought additional sketches for the candidates to match the poets. The sketches were full of girls’ heart. I like their pure heart. Emi and Yumi said that they joined community art school which was resumed after the tsuami. Their voice told me they waited the opening of the community art school.

 

December 2012

I asked a professional photographer to take Yoshida sisters paintings for the artbook in January. Emi and Yumi particpate in community art school since November. They are committed to finalize their new master piece: “Takata-matsubara  Ⅱ” (Emi) and “Nagasaki” (Yumi) by the photo-shooting day.

The painting “Nagasaki” was chosen for the poet “Nagasaki” (both Yumi). Night scenary of Nagasaki city was very challenging work. Yumi has been considering to paint the theme for many years but could not start. I thought her challenge spirit itself was greater than the result. But I told Yumi that I was keen to see “Nagasaki” and afterward regretted that maybe I placed too much pressure on Yumi.

 

Emi and Yumi said to me “We will finish these two new paintings in this calender year. Even if we could not complete them during the predefined community art school schedule, we will do this by asking the professior Kumagai to provide guidance”. Emi and Yumi was running ahead of me, which energized me.

 

January 2013

20 January, 2013. Taking photo of paintings requres special expartise. In the end we asked a professional photographer to take photos of the paintings to be used in the artbook.

Yoshida family (Emi and Yoshida mother) were watching the photo-shooting. That night was a semi-completion of the project for us. We celebrated it. I stayed at Yoshida family’s house and had a good sleep.

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Then an editorial v-team starts across the continent – Tokyo, Canada and the UK.  There are so many things to do, but more hands offered by our team.

I recall the power of the team. Honest feedabck and correction are reall valuable. When I was struggling to digest all the feedback, it was not your fault but my capacity. Please forgive me, team ;- )

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February 2013

We are in the final editorial stage.

Ms YS, Mr YZ and I were adding final touch on the artbook in these two weeks. Both of them are regular coaches to Komo’s English class@ Rikuzentakata and know Yoshida sisters very well.  We had open and honest discussion as a professional and a consumer. Thank you for the super support from Canada and the UK too!

I anchor the editorial phase. I read through over night and double checked the contents were perfect.

Finally – let me send the copy back to the painting company!

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Please stay tuned for the revised copy!!

<<Go to the pat 2 : Making story>>

 

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