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September 23, 2011 / Mika Riedel

The Ishinomaki Kawabiraki Festival

Monday August 1st, 2011.

August 1st, today is Ishinomaki’s traditional annual Kawabiraki Festival.

(The Ishinomaki Kawabiraki Festival:  Lead by Kawamura Magobei, during the Edo period efforts were made to restructure, or open up, the channel of the Kitakami river allowing Ishinomaki to prosper.  Hence the name Kawabiraki(川開き) or “River Opening” Festival.)

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Established during the Edo period, it was originally intended as a memorial service for workers who were killed during the construction process to improve the channel of the flood prone Kitakami river.  This year’s festival was also significant for memorializing those who were lost in the earthquake disaster.

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Most of the shops throughout Ishinomaki are still closed due to the tsunami.  A few have recently reopened but pedestrian traffic has dropped off dramatically.  However, today is the festival that everyone in Ishinomaki has been eagerly anticipating.  The shopping district has once again regained the crowds it had during Kawabiraki Festivals before the disaster.

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Speaking from my personal impressions, Ishinomaki has done a good job recovering this far.  I am deeply moved to see people gathering together again like they did before.  The fireworks are an annual event, but this year they had a little deeper meaning to them.

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OK, here is our Rainbow Crayons activities for today.  Normally we would visit the shelters, but with the expectation the kids would go to the festival, we went out on the streets for our activities.  This allowed us a little self promotion too.  We picked up garbage, guided people to the toilets, kept an eye out for lost children and such.  We also saw a lot of kids who are regular Rainbow Crayons participants.  They were quite surprised and excited to meet our volunteers where they least expected to.  I hope we get more opportunities to hold our Rainbow Crayons activities around town.

Written by Kodomo Hinanjo Club on 8/1/2011.

Translated by Paul Haugerud, Takako Kawamukai and Kayoko Hirata.

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