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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Fukushima folktale calendar

December 27, 2015


Student evacuees from Fukushima village score big hit with local folktale calendar



Students from Iitate Junior High School in the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, are seen selling their picture story show-style calendar in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo. (Mainichi)

A calendar featuring local folk stories and made by student evacuees from the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, is seeing brisk sales in Tokyo and other areas.

The picture story show-style calendar is the work of 34 second-year students at the village's municipal Iitate Junior High School, which currently has 100 students. The children were evacuated from Iitate following the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns, and began studying at a temporary school in the city of Fukushima's Iino district. Most of the students began living in apartments around the city, and spend around one hour commuting to school in a bus owned by the Iitate government.

In an effort to pass down the village's culture, the school has a program known as "hometown study." First-year students learn local practices such as the village rice-planting dance, while third-year students study traditional miso-making.

The second-year students, meanwhile, began crafting the calendar, which they based on two local folk stories told by an 81-year-old resident: "Ochiyo Jarui Myojin," which tells the tale of a snake that disguises itself as a young woman and repays a debt to a young hardworking person; and "Kasha Neko," or "Burning Cat," which recounts the friendship between a Buddhist priest at a mountain temple and an abandoned cat.

The 2016 calendar, which features scenes from the two stories, is available for 1,000 yen including tax.

Nine of the school's second-year students traveled to Tokyo as class representatives for a sales event held this month at a Fukushima prefectural antenna shop in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo. There, they called out to passersby on the street, "Picture-story calendars for sale!"

This provided an opportunity for communication between residents of Tokyo and of the disaster-hit areas. One woman who bought a calendar, for example, thrust some sweets into the students' hands and said, "Here, eat these during your train ride home."

The Iitate Junior High School principal commented, "When people turn the pages of this calendar, I would be pleased if they turned their thoughts toward these students from the village of Iitate who have overcome hardships and become strong individuals."

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