On this trip to Tohoku, we have met several people who are inspirational, not by power of personality or remarkable skills – in fact they are in many ways quite ordinary – but by simply being people who take action. There is a problem, they see a way forward, and they do it.
I wrote yesterday about Ando-san, the fisherman who is helping us coordinate the Tohoku Cycling Festival on the dorstep of his home in the small community of Kyubunhama. Today in the neighboring fishing town of Ayukawahama we met with Endo-san, a dynamic young surfer dude from Tokyo who came here immediately after the tsunami to deliver relief supplies and has stayed ever since to lead and organize the constant flow of volunteers who come to the area to help. Tomorrow we are bringing him a shipment of 25 new mountain bikes kindly donated by Cannondale. He will gladly accept more.
Thanks also to Abe-san, owner of a very small dairy farm, who saw enough in my feeble attempt to explain what we are trying to achieve through the cycling festival to agree to allow us use his field at the southern tip of the Ojika peninsula for a day of events. He immediately agreed to do what was necessary to ensure the field would be ready for use in September. Surrounded on three sides by the Pacific and flanked by the majestic Kinkazan Island, this is a field with the kind of views that would command a million-dollar price tag in many parts of the world. Anyone who has climbed the Hill of Howth in my hometown of Dublin – as I did again just last month – would immediately feel right at home on this hill of Kurosaki.
Abe-san is a man who – truth be told – seems to live a very solitary and probably lonely existence in this remote spot. But he quickly warmed to our ideas and expressed in very eloquent terms what the festival could mean to people in this area, who have suffered so much this year. Our ideas are big, our resources limited, but if we can put on an event that is well received and enjoyed by these people who have endured great hardship, we too will have done something.