Ape celebrated its second anniversary October 2013. Ape became the place where people could meet casually and has been indispensable for the community. However, it has to move in the near future.
Ozuchi town office had discussed how to design the new town after the tsunami with local people. Their basic thinking is that houses should not be built in the area that was hit by the tsunami. This is because if another tsunami strikes, the same destruction will happen again; and another tsunami will surely come someday.
As this region is composed of a special terrain called rias coast, there are only a few high and flat places available to build houses. So, Ozuchi town has proposed the following plan;
1. Build a seawall 12.8m in hight 2. Raise the ground level of the building site.
Ape currently is located at the building site. That's why Ape will be closed in December 2013. It will be temporary, as Norishige, Ape's owner, has declared that it will be relocated and restored.
On the other hand, Ape is trying to start a new project. Norishige is planning a tour to see the sea of Kirikiri in a sea kayak. On the tour, it will be possible to enjoy the scenery of a deserted island and the sea. It is a beautiful place that you can fully appreciate while paddling your kayak.
Until now, it has not been fully utilized by locals despite there being a number of tourism resources available. It is difficult for the people who live locally to see how attractive it is. Norishige can now re-discover the beauty of the local because he had been living in Tokyo.
In the wake of the tsunami, volunteers and supporters; people with the imagination and ability to take action, have gathered in this town. Efforts to re-discover the charm of the countryside and community activism will go on increasing. It's very exciting. I am looking forward to Ape being revived for people not only to gather, but it will also become the hub of local activities.
Another event was the Hyokkori Jazz Festival held in 2004. The Meiji university jazz big band, "Big Sounds Society Orchestra" a well known band amongst universities which I also belonged to when I was a university student performed a this festival.
The band performed in a special location. The stage was made near the pier where the audience could see the island that was lit up. The lights used for hunting squids which are very bright were used around the stage. The stage was also decorated with a lot of fisherman's flags. Many people came to this special festival and enjoyed the music, I thought it was a great success!
Now, they are trying to make the island a symbol of revival. At the end of 2011, they held a design competition for the design of the lighthouse instead of replacing the original one. There were many applicants and new one was built. The embankment connecting the island and land will be completed soon.
Mr.Makoto Ozone, who is one of the most famous jazz pianists in Japan, recorded the theme song "Hyokkori-Hyoutan-Jima", it is broadcast from speakers of the town every noon. I hope the Hyokkori Jazz Festival Vol.2 will be held someday. I want Mr.Ozone to join in the festival! If there is another jazz festival, it will be an opportunity to attract people from other towns to the island.
There is an island in Ozuchi called "Hyoutan-Jima". As the shape of this island is quite unique; it is similar to a gourd, local people have called it by this name since a long time ago.
Before the tsunami, we could get to the island along an embankment. On and around the island are good places for fishing and I enjoyed fishing here with my friends when I was a child. There was a small shrine and a red lighthouse on the island. However, the embankment and the lighthouse were destroyed by a tsunami.
May.2011 (after the tsunami)
This small island became famous as a model of a TV puppet show program for children called "Hyokkori-Hyoutan-Jima" since it aired in the 1960's. The story of this show was about when the island suddenly separated from land and began to move towards the sea. Only a few people survived and remained on the island. These people all had unique personalities and each episode there was some type of drama and they had to solve the problem.
As the story was unique, satirical and amusing, it appealed to many people at the time so most Japanese people know this show. It had a catchy theme song that many people recognize. The story was written by the writer Hisashi Inoue, who also wrote Kirikiri-Jin. Although he did not say which island he modeled the story on, Ozuchi people believe it was their island. It seems very likely because his mother had lived in the neighboring city of Kamaishi.
Ozuchi town has used this island for sightseeing and sometimes held events related to the island. One example is when they were broadcasting at noon everyday the theme song of Hyokkori-Hyoutan-Jima. However, because of the tsunami, the Ozuchi town building sound system was destroyed.