SPECIAL vol.22 Creating a better living environment by ourselves
by Voices from the Field Admin - Sunday, 12 July 2015, 10:16 PM

Creating a better living environment by ourselves


The earthquake and tsunami completely destroyed my house and my life which I had built up through hard work.

We moved into the temporary housing on May 6, 2011. At first we were happy because we thought we finally could relax. But in less than one week we found various problems in our living environment.

We attended an information meeting before moving into the temporary housing. Victims of the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake from Tamugiyama area of Kawaguchi-cho in Niigata prefecture were invited to the meeting to talk about their experiences in the temporary housing. “We made efforts to find creative ways to make our living environment better by ourselves.” “Having good communication among neighbors helped us a lot to cope with the difficult circumstances in temporary housing.” We were impressed with those stories. So, we immediately tried to apply their suggestions to our lives by collecting some reusable materials, such as doors or curtain rails from the houses which barely remained after the tsunami, and by finding low-cost materials to make shelves and such.

At our temporary housing, we had to live cooperatively with other residents who came from many different areas. My husband was worried that his snoring was so loud that it might annoy our neighbors. We also sometimes heard some complaints or troubles among neighbors, such as about the light leaking through the windows. However, if we express all we want, we cannot maintain a good relationship with our neighbors. It is important to remember that we all affect each other in one way or another, and that each of us has different ways of thinking and life styles. We are all in the same boat and we have to try to be tolerant. The most valuable things are greeting each other daily, actively participating in events, and communicating well, such as trying to speak to the people who tend to stay at home. We tried to take care of our neighbors in order not to have anybody isolated from our community, while also keeping an appropriate distance. I think a lot of people are emotionally supported by these human relationships.


Kazuko Ito (63 years old)

Address at the time of disaster: Hanabuchihama Area

Present Address: Shiomidai-Minami Area (Reconstructed her own house