While on Miyakejima, we were introduced to a husband and wife team who own a small gift shop on the island. They’ve endured quite a bit, including losing their home and first shop because of a volcano many years ago, only to have to leave Miyakejima after the 2000 volcano eruption for 4 1/2 years. He and his wife returned however, and have opened a new shop. After picking up a few gifts for friends and family back home, the gentleman agreed to sit down with us and share his story.
Before he evacuated, he had the foresight to bring his collection of photographs of Miyakejima. An amateur photographer, he had taken beautiful photos of the island’s natural beauty, including sunsets, plants and the ocean, going back decades. While in Tokyo, he had a number of photos printed as postcards, and sent them to many of his friends and neighbors from Miyakejima. He made a special effort to send these postcards of home to many of the senior citzens. Word spread about the postcards, and other residents requested to be on his mailing list.
The postcards helped this gentleman re-create his community in Tokyo, but in a completely different way. Those who received his postcards told him that they waited in anticipation to receive the next card, and it played a tremendous role in keeping their spirits, and their hopes, high. By the end of his time in Tokyo, he sent thousands and thousands of cards, at his own expense.
We were all so impressed with how what started as a simple gesture by just one person helped to create a real sense of community hundreds of miles from home and provided so many people with hope and happiness.