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May 24, 2014 / Mika Riedel

Here Come the High School Students!

Hello! I’m Yuki from Nijiiro Crayons.

Today, we held our activities at provisional housing in the residential district of Koyo-cho. We’ve had lots of guests join us lately and today was no different.

Free from club activities due to the exam period, three high school baseball players took the opportunity to join us in supporting the children! Travelling all the way from Yamagata prefecture by bus, they said they’d been interested in volunteering for ages. It was wonderful to see so much enthusiasm from such young people.

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As well as the students, lots of children also came to join us and our assembly point was soon buzzing with activity. We had originally planned to play in the schoolyard, however, the temperature in Ishinomaki was below 0 (the highest temperature WAS 0!) and even the children themselves were reluctant to venture outside.

The day was not lost, however. Recent improvementsto our indoor play facilities ensured that there was still plenty for them to do. Splitting into several groups, the children were quite content with playing games such as UNO, Karuta (Japanese cards), clay and ping-pong.

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At first, we were unsure whether the children would get along with the the high school students, but no sooner had the activities started than they were playing together as if the best of friends.

Though it was their first time volunteering, the students also enjoyed themselves, later commenting at the end-of-day meeting that they hoped there would be more opportunities to speak with the children in the future.

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As well as the high school students, we were delighted to see some familiar faces who hadn’t joined us for a while; some even brought their friends along too. The newcomers seemed to have a great time and left us with the promise that they’d be back (The children we knew, on the other hand, were as tricky as ever!). With both children and adults alike coming to join us, I really feel that our circle of supporters and participants is slowly but surely expanding.

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Today’s volunteers were Onchan-Shisho, Bu-chan, Mura-san, Hoka-chan, Natsukichi, Hancho, Aokkii, Kaikai and Yuki.

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Thank you all very much!

Written by Nijiiro Crayons on 2014/2/5.

Translated by Chiharu Prokop and Ayako Hamada.

May 16, 2014 / Mika Riedel

Nijiiro-crayon’s power of continuation and bond

I went to Asahi Kasei power device for a monthly activity. Not only children, adults also attend this program in Asai Kasei Power Device. Basically, kids and adults are involved in a different activity. I was in charge of the adult team with Rei chan who works in ‘NPO Kodomo•Wakamono machi-ing’ (Kids and young people matching).

This time, Shi chan also took part in the program, visiting from Volunteer center in Tokyo. Since the start of this year, knitting has been boomed among the adults. This started when S san, who have participated in this program every time and was good at knitting, gave knitted items for us, volunteer members and children occasionally.

The girls started to enjoy knitting with the adult team. This made me take up knitting too. I can only do a simple piece of knitting, but gradually feel the joy of it. My goal is to make my own scarf for this winter.

It was the first time for Shi chan to participate in the adult program, but it seemed S san liked her and they enjoyed talking a lot. Then, I was surprised to hear that S san asked Shi chan, “Why don’t you come again?” Because she was not a kind of a person who asks a first visitor to come again, she must have had a great time with Shi chan.

The activity for Asahi Kasei power device has been going on nearly two years. Sometime things didn’t go smoothly in the beginning due to inadequate arrangements; however, I believe we have come to establish a good relationship every time we worked together and became close to each other. I feel that people are looking forward to being involved with the activities by Nijiiro-crayon.

Almost three-year passed since that day. I have often heard that the local people were happy to see all sorts of people from all parts

of Japan to encourage them at that time. They said that as the time has passed, the number of visitors has been gradually reduced,

thought it cannot be helped, but they were happy to have Nijiiro-crrayon staff still come to meet them regularly. I was shaking with excitement when they told me “We are going to meet you in Tokyo when spring has come.”

We have never expected returns or rewards, nor asked them to visit Tokyo, of course. It is quite hard for them to go out to Tokyo.

“I will visit Tokyo because I have a friend living in Tokyo.”

I thought it might be one of the outcomes from our activities. It’s hard to explain, but it was a very happy incident.

I suppose that because Nijiiro-crayon was established by the local people, it was easier for the organization to continue compared to the other organizations.

I have often been told from my friends in Tokyo, “They are still living in temporary housings, aren’t they? It must be hard.” However, though there are some troubles that the walls are thinner compared to normal housing and locations are inconvenient, things have been changing. Those situations vary depending on people.

As long as I heard, some of them refuse to move out of the temporary housings. It sounded like that they developed attachment for the past three years. Take an example, elderly people and people live alone have made their community with neighbors living in the temporary housing. Even though there are some troubles, they surely have a strong bond through overcoming hardest time together. Also, they may feel scared to move out and live alone in a new environment after sticking together and experiencing good times and bad times. They might feel lonely of not having visitors after moving out of the temporary housing. Of course, we can never forget about their financial difficulties.

If they were young, they might be capable of living in a new place with their family and friends, or try to look for new people as a start of new life. However, the change of environment must be hard for elderly people.

I hope, at least, those people with a strong bond do not have to live far from each other after they move out. Some people might say, “It’s selfish” or “They are asking too much”, but I personally think that it should be acceptable for those who have experienced such a tragedy.

If everyone cooperates a bit and the big shots can look with their favor on that plan, it would come true.

Today’s volunteers were Kuro chan, Saya bo, Hide san, Shi cahn, Rei chan, and Bu chan.

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Written by Nijiiro Crayons on 3/1/2014.

Translated by Mayu Kawaguchi and Natsu Hirukawa.

April 27, 2014 / Mika Riedel

Asahi Kasei Power Device Report

Hello! I’m Mayu Ito, known as Mayuyu from the group of giving smiles for everyone. :)

Today’ members are Natsukichi, Chiko chan, Rica shan, Taka chan, Eri chan, Shu, Boss and Mayuyu!

We played Yubinyasan (post officer) and Snake with a long rope outside. :D Some kids were easily caught in the rope in the beginning, but gradually got to increase the number of jumps and in the end they jumped 30 times in a row!

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Inside, we enjoyed karaoke and played volleyball with balloons on which we drew pictures! We got a bit excited because this was the first time for us to sing karaoke as activity. Beginning with a song of Arashi that Natsukichi chose, we enjoyed singing a wide range of songs such as nursery rhymes and even songs kids didn’t know. :D

We not only played volleyball with balloons, but also competed in grabbing distant balloons first. :) Only 7 kids joined today, but I think each of them could enjoy what they wanted to do to their heart’s contents.

I hope I can see more kids tomorrow. ♪

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Written by Nijiiro Crayons on  March 11, 2014.

Translated by Chiharu Prokop and Natsu Hirukawa.

April 20, 2014 / Mika Riedel

Go! Hibiki Kids!

Everybody, good morning, good afternoon and good evening! I am Natsukichi, a Nijiiro Crayons’ staff member.

Ooh… It’s cold. Cutting cold wind attacking me… Ouch Ouch! “This shivering… I don’t want to go outside… Shall we play inside….?” Only lazy adults think this. Coldness means nothing to children. They are very active.

Their first word was…

“Le~t’s play badminton” Aya-chan said with idiom. Oh, Aya-chan, you’re a real native speaker of Tohoku. I wonder someday I’ll be able to speak with Tohoku accent (*She is from Nagoya in Tokai area)

When I was thinking that, a birdie sang through the air “Zing!”

“You’ve done it! Only you think I don’t!”

Got started badminton. Keeping rally, our bodies got warmer and warmer. However cold the day is, if we move, everything becomes O.K.

Oh, we’ve found an icy puddle on the back of the assembly building! We all try not to break the ice placing a big wooden stick together on it. We tried to cross over to the other side on the wooden stick, trying not to fall.

I wanted to take photos, but I was busy trying not to fall myself, and watching  and shouting at the kids not falling. The children took another step and another on the woody stick. Some pickles teased “Falling-Down Falling-Down♪”

Imagine the children carefully walking on a big wooden stick on the solid frozen ice! The children who watched over their friends were incredibly adorable.

We all get it done and got in the assembly building. Come on! Let’s enjoy a card game today! Which challenger was winner today?

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Here, a boy is making something with clay.

“No, this color is a little different from my feeling…”

“This should be done like this…”

Murmuring aloud, Soushi-kun seems to make something. What will come to the world??

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Here, some kids seem to play a sort of chess with Lego blocks. Children can always convert anything into games. Excellent!

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Finally, Nijiiro Croyon’s kids played “tag-ball in the darkness” and went home harmoniously together.

Hibiki’s children are good friends every time. Today’s members are Onchyan-Sisho and I, Natsukichi. We’ll be goooing out next week!

Written by Nijiiro Crayons on 1/21/2014.

Translated by Takako Kawamukai and Natsu Hirukawa.

April 13, 2014 / Mika Riedel

Buzzing Bustling !

Hello! I’m Yuki, a Nijiiro staff member. Today we held our session in Koyocho Community Center.

Though it was already afternoon, a boy dashed into the room, loudly saying “good morning!”, and started to play with clay as usual!

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A tomboy girl was playing ping pong lively on an impromptu long table without caring coldness at all. The children in Koyocho seem to be cheerful as always.

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Seeing the hall, some girls were playing with a long-rope, peacefully skipping. But next to them, Mura-san and some boys were playing an intense ping pong match. Like the children in the provisional housing in the residential district of Koyocho yesterday, table tennis seems to be really popular here too!

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However, a girl who picked up a racket first said she would join a tennis club when she enters the middle school, not table tennis…Hahaha…

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At the end of our session, Natsukichi read some picture books to the children. Although sometimes distracted by some older girls, others were so engaged in the story of Twelve horary signs. I could see how much children love picture books!!

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With many younger and older children all together, today’s session became more bustling than usual.

Today’s staff members were five of us; On-chan master, Mura-san, Yama-chan, Natsukichi and Yuki. Thank you very much!

Written by Nijiiro Crayons on 1/16/2014.

Translated by Mao Ohtake and Natsu Hirukawa.

April 9, 2014 / Mika Riedel

Kick off! The ping-pong club and the Ceramic Art club

Hello! I’m Yuuki, a member of “Nijiiro-Crayon”staff.

Belated Happy New Year! Today we had our activities at the provisional housing in the residential district of Koyocho. The first act of the year here! But some of the children had met me last week.

Let’s start today’s activities with a greeting “akemashite omedetou! (It means Happy New Year!)”

We immediately prepared an improvised ping-pong table with a good arrangement of long tables that there were in the assembly hall and we played.

At first, children were not familiar with playing ping-pong. They had a hard time but thanks to special (or comical?) coaches, Mura-san and Hoka-chan, children showed rapid progress. By teaching each other, they got enthusiastic and they enjoyed ping-pong. Here in Koyocho, it seems that a ping-pong movement has emerged.

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From the other side, it has started a class of “cloisonne work” by Onchan-Sisho and Natsukichi.

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Bringing a tiny kiln in its maximum temperature it needs 800ºC ! (1472ºF), Giving children a tutorial of “cloisonne work”, they were putting children’s creations in a heated kiln one after another.

After they counted 60 seconds, they found their creations hot from the kiln, and children got really excited! They took their creations back home with delight. And some of the children that could not complete them today, they’ll finish them next time.

We’re looking forward to seeing any works of genius next time. Today varied “Bukatsu” (club activities at school) have been played actively.

Our five members today were: Onchan-Sisho, Mura-san, Hoka-chan, Natsukichi and Yuuki. Thank you for today!

Written by Nijiiro Crayons on 1/15/2014.

Translated by Takako Kawamukai and Maria Koimisoglou.

March 29, 2014 / Mika Riedel

Play Leader’s Workshop Report

Hoka’s report.

Today, we met Medaka-sensei for the first time in ages and had a lovely time at the Play Leader’s workshop! It would be great if more people attended our next meeting, so I’d like to fill you in on what we talked about today.

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The theme of the workshop was “Risk Management and Crisis Management”. Our work requires us to look after both the physical and mental health of the children, so this theme is extremely important to us.

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Starting with a case-study based on the Nijiiro Crayon’s own activities, we discussed a range of topics from whether a child could learn from injuring themselves to the responsibilities of a child at play; particularly in the playground, where “children play at their own risk”.

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I’ll be sure to make use of what I learnt today to make our future activities better! Medaka-sensei, thank you very much for talking with us!

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Today’s participants were Medaka-sensei (as a lecturer),  Onchan-Shisho, Boo-chan, Nattsu and Hoka!

Written by Nijiiro Crayons on 1/13/2014.

Translated by Takako Kawamukai and Ayako Hamada.

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