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Watanoha Smile Project: Children's Response to 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami

Watanoha Smile Project: Children's Response to 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami

Editor's Note: Those in the Tri-State area are invited to come to Japan Society in New York for One Year Later: A Day of Reflection on March 11, 2012.  These images, along with other artwork by children, will be on display.


These quirky, cheerful pieces were created to restore smiles to Ishinomaki, a city in Miyagi Prefecture which suffered great losses due to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11, 2011.  Tomo Inugai, an artist specializing in creating sculptures out of scrap wood, created the ‘Watanoha Smile’ Project for Watanoha Elementary, a school-turned-shelter due to the devastation.  Twenty Watanoha students used the debris left by the tsunami to craft 100 unique pieces of art.  The wreckage, once a symbol of sadness, was transformed by these children into gentle reminders of the human capacity for creation. These works of art have become causes for people to smile, and have encouraged people to place hope in them as symbols of restoration. Additionally, the rubble generated by the earthquake and tsunami would have required tremendous amounts of resources to clean up and discard as ‘trash’—but thanks to the children, these pieces of ‘trash’ were transformed into precious artifacts.

Currently, these pieces are displayed in galleries all over Japan as exhibits from the ‘Watanoha Smile’ project. We at the Japan Society are pleased to share their brilliant works and efforts here through photographic documentation.

Photos provided by the Watanoha Smile Project.

Further Resources
Video interviews, essays, podcasts and photos to help educators teach about the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011

Craft Activities for Children
Origami hina dolls
Koinobori (carp streamers) for Children's Day
Tanabata (Star Festival) activities



 
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About Japan: A Teacher’s Resource
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