Civil Society

September 5, 2013


Wishing for Recovery of Hearts and Tomorrow's Happiness--O-Jizo-San Project

Keywords: Civil Society / Local Issues Disaster Reconstruction NGO / Citizen 

Two days before the two-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a statue of the Buddhist Bodhisattva O-Jizo-san was erected in the Minamihama District in Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture, which had taken severe damage in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. O-jizo-san is the guardian of children and has a deep connection with the Japanese culture and people.

The statue was erected on March 9, 2013 with donations collected by the NPO "O-Jizo-san Project," which organizes activities for the recovery of the hearts of the victims.

After the earthquake, the chairman of this NPO, Masanori Ashihara, who at the same time is the chief priest of a Buddhist temple in Yamagata Prefecture, went to the disaster-hit areas to help with recovery and support work. During this time, when he was wondering how to help the people best to overcome their sorrow and pain and to make them gain strong courage and a sense of inner peace, he remembered that since the old days, Japanese people found encouragement by entrusting their personal worries and sufferings to the O-Jizo-san in the village.

Together with friends he founded the before mentioned NPO in December 2011 and
activities started. In continuation of the first erection of an O-Jizo-san statue, the initiative is aiming at erecting O-Jizo-san statues in all of the 37 damaged cities and villages in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate Prefecture, in total at around 50 different places.

Two years have passed since the disaster and despite the progressing material recovery the hearts of the people are presently still left in the lurch. This is what the project wants to change.