Time capsule event in Izumi Town, Sendai, Japan
In June, 2015 people gather near the HIMEGURI sculpture/sundial. Immersed in the Japanese culture for two weeks was a peak life experience for me! I stayed with the interesting and very generous family, Chizuko, Maiko and Koichi Hamada. The Mitsubishi Jisho people organized and sponsored a perfect event, and the people at the Meysen Academy attended to all the details making the time capsule event happen like clockwork.
Meysen Academy kindergarteners, students from Tohoku International School and the rest of us eagerly await the unearthing of the time capsule. The Mitsubishi engineers first open the concrete vault and then remove the capsule covered with a fabric sac.
At last, we have a look inside!
And we find ceramics made by Tohoku International School students in teacher Sasaki’s class, and pieces made in Milton, Vermont, both made in 1998. Other artwork is two-dimensional drawings by children from twelve schools in Izumi Town, and children in Quebec, Canada; Vermont and Hawaii, USA. Some of the paper art work is damp but the colors and drawings are exciting to see.
Three mothers who found their children’s artwork and a grandmother pose with me. “I am glad to be alive on this special day” says the grandmother.
One mother whose child was in kindergarten in 1998 searches for her daughter’s art piece and later succeeds in finding it.
Three mothers who found their children’s artwork and a grandmother pose with me. “I am glad to be alive on this special day” says the grandmother.
One mother whose child was in kindergarten in 1998 searches for her daughter’s art piece and later succeeds in finding it.
Mr Fujioka, president of Mitsubishi Jisho, and I meet for the first time.
Wakako Sato greets me after 16 years. She is a city representative in Sendai and is a well known personality. She was my host in 1998 and 1999. Mr Fujioka and Mr Yoshida from Mitsubishi Jisho look on.
Children from Meysen Academy and Tohoku International School place “blessings for Peace and the Wellbeing of the Earth” back into the blue ceramic vessel. The children made scrolls and drawings that will remain buried in ceramic vessel for an undetermined amount of time. Appropriate, because of the great east Japan tsunami on March 3, 2011.
Tsunami waves in Natori city near Sendai reached the height of this monument destroying everything in its path except for a line of tall strong pine trees along the beach. I visited the site with the Hamada family. Fishermen lost homes and boats; farmers lost homes and farms.

Mitsubishi engineers seal the concrete vault holding the blue ceramic vessel with the “Blessings” inside.

The Canadians built a Pavillion building on the Nartori beach to be an anchor for an open air fish and farmers market.
Stark black calligraphy covers one wall of the building, roughly translated, “ The waters came in but cherry blossoms will bloom again in the spring”
A woman selling her fish smiles in recognition when she sees my long braided hair. Happy people jostle each other as they thread through the crowds to buy produce and fish. Life goes on.
Rubble from the destruction covers the parking lot of the market.
We travel home to Izumi Town and have a delicious cook out. Koichi makes his okonomiyki , a huge concoction of cabbage, shitake mushrooms, slices of ham and other delicacies.
Ceramic artist Jun Iwai explains the Japanese tea ceremony to me. His elegant work is exhibited internationally, most recently in Florence, Italy. Some of his glazes sparkle with crystal or with bits of gold. Using magnifying glasses, one of his techniques includes brushing subtle fine lines of glaze emanating from the center of a vessel. Exquisite work.
Kate’s arrival in Japan

The homestay family: Chizuko and Kichi, and their daughter, Maiko, with Kate and me.
Kate, known to me as Grandma Kate, arrived in Sendai, Japan on Tuesday and was greeted at the airport by a rare rain, her homestay family from 17 years ago and myself. After slurping through mountains of cold soba (buckwheat noodles) we returned to home base, where we recharged. Jetlagged brain + inundation of the Japanese language = rest required.

But there’s no moss growing on this baachan (grandma). Amidst the jetlag and exhaustion, we planned and gathered thoughts for a meeting at Tohoku International School (TIS) and “Grape City” – a playfully named company that is connected to many of the project partners. Her first night here we were treated to an impromptu performance by a lively neighbor who stopped by. She specializes in Japanese kids songs and didn’t hold back when we requested a demonstration. Kate’s granddaughter, Angela Robins recognized the classics and joined in.
Stir-frying up a storm. While we were singing and chatting, Chizuko’s husband, Koichi, worked on dinner.
Connecting with Tohoku International (TIS) staff in person and remotely. Over the past few days we’ve connected with school staff who will help to connect current students to the project, as well as corporate partners who are helping to orchestrate the time capsule opening ceremony. We finally got everything settled for the ceremony, so now it’s time to invite people who contributed artwork 17 years ago and spread the word!
Chizuko, Kate and the headmaster’s assistant, Kawaguchi san, at TIS.
Talking in the shade of the HIMEGURI sculpture with Mitsubishi project partners.

Kate and Chizuko admiring the rocks that lead to the sundial.

Angela Robins lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and you can learn about her work building a traditional boat in Japan at: http://angelarobins.com/blog

Sendai, Japan
On June 20, 2015, the time capsule near the sculpture HIMEGURI will be unearthed and the contents seen for the first time since the dedication in June of 1998.

Dedication of Himeguri in 1998

A kindergartener draws insects in his lunchtime bento box