Renew Yamada is created by our family, the Horiai’s. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the citizens of Yamada, Japan rebuild their lives and community in the wake of the devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of Friday, March 11, 2011.
The Horiai Family
Toshiaki and I (Mary Beth) first met in Kamaishi, Iwate over 25 years ago. Toshiaki brought me to his hometown of Yamada a 45 minute drive up the coast from Kamaishi to meet his family. His parents Choshiro and Masa were rice farmers and his father and grandfather were lumbermen. Toshiaki’s mother had nine sisters total, six of whom are still living in Yamada. Toshiaki is one of four brothers, two of whom still live in Yamada. One brother lives in Morioka.
We have lived extended periods of time in Japan as well as the United States (Las Vegas, primarily), where we have raised our two daughters Emi and Miki for the last twelve years. We had a family Japanese restaurant named Koto until the global economic crisis hit, at which time we sold our business, down-sized and agreed that after I finished Graduate school, we would move back to Japan in the spring of 2011.
Never had we imagined what would happen to Toshiaki’s hometown of Yamada along with countless other northeastern coastal towns and cities. After the initial shock felt around the world of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, our decision to move back to Japan was set in stone with an added inspiration to try to help.
Like so many people with family and friends living in Japan we spent hours, days and weeks scouring the internet, skypeing, texting, calling and facebooking, trying to account for all members of his family, as well as many of our friends throughout Japan. We are grateful that Toshiaki’s immediate family members are all safe and unharmed. However, many relatives lost their homes or were flooded and two of Toshiaki’s cousins, Takehiko and Ruri lost their lives (see stories and dedications). The homes of Toshiaki’s two brothers and parents were on high enough ground that they were untouched by the tsunami. However, most of the town was destroyed (see slide show).
In the weeks and months to follow the large network of friends of Emi, Miki, Mary Beth and Toshiaki reached out to us wanting to directly help Toshiaki’s hometown. We have established this non-profit organization, Renew Yamada to raise funds, awareness and assistance to the people of Yamada. We hope you will explore our website and help where you can even if it is a comment of goodwill or an offer of prayers and positive thoughts.
We would like to extend a BIG thank you and cyber-hug to our friend Steve Rypka who donated his time, expertise and resources to set-up this fabulous website, which is all powered by renewable energy.