HIGASHI-MATSUSHIMA, Miyagi Prefecture--A traditional drum concert will be held here on May 5 under 280 blue carp streamers set up by a student who lost four family members in the earthquake and tsunami last year.
Kento Ito, 18, a freshman at Tohoku Fukushi University, raised the 280 streamers in the Omagarihama district for his youngest brother, Ritsu, who died in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami at the age of 5. The disaster also killed his mother, Chika, 45, grandfather Morio, 75, and grandmother Kise, 76.
Two weeks after the quake, Ito came across a blue carp streamer--a favorite of Ritsu--in the remains of his house.
Ito recalled that his youngest brother, the “idol” in his family, was always happy when he hit a Japanese traditional “wadaiko” drum. The brothers had learned how to play the drum from the grandfather on their mother’s side.
Ito asked 3D-Factory, a Japanese traditional music performance group based in Misato, also in Miyagi Prefecture, to hold a wadaiko concert. At the same time, he requested blue carp streamers from around the country.
“If I did not do anything, I was likely to become crazy,” Ito said.
On May 5, 2011, he hoisted 204 blue carp streamers near the remains of his house and held a wadaiko concert. May 5 is Children’s Day in Japan.
Word spread overseas about Ito’s activities. U.S. movie director Stu Levy, who learned about Ito, introduced the blue carp streamers in his documentary film, “Pray for Japan.”
Ito raised additional blue carp streamers in and around what was left of his house this year, thinking they would show his determination to move forward.
Households in the stricken Omagarihama district have been subject to group relocation. One resident offered poles to Ito, saying, “I want the carp streamers to become a local symbol when the district becomes a park.”
Ito currently lives with his father and another younger brother, a senior high school student, in an inland area. Even now, Ito says it is difficult to visit the Omagarihama district alone.
“But the carp streamers that are filled with thoughts of my family members and supporters have made me (mentally) stronger,” Ito said.
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