Project area:Kamaishi City, Morioka City (Iwate Prefecture)

Interview: Makoto SUGAWARA / Hiroyasu SASAKI/AD BOAT PROJECT
“Recovery support boat.” Just as the Formula 1, sales from selling advertisements whose company’s logo will be labeled on boats will go directly to the purchase of fishing boats. As an exchange of their financial contribution, the ad illustrates the message to thank for their action; while the boats themselves become the direct means for the fishermen. At the website that is currently under construction, the project is aiming to develop the best and useful communication system between supporters and fishermen to raise the funding to get their work place (=fishing boats) back. Their goal for the website is to create a sustainable business model so that the effort to raise the fund to help can last as long as needed.

18 Regeneration Support Boats Floating in the Harbour

On 7th July 2012, a number of boats are moored in the harbor of Koishihama, Kamaishi city, with their flags flying and logos impressed upon their white hulls as part of the "AD BOAT PROJECT". On this day a party was held to bring together the fishing owners of these boats and the members of the companies and brands offering their sponsorship to them. Amongst the supporters are those who have come to Tohoku for the first time to see the completed "AD BOATs". Here they are able to see the fruition of their support before their eyes and engage in dialogue with the fishermen who ride upon them. On this occasion, marking one year on from the start of the project, the head of AD BOAT JAPAN had this to say:

"Finally we have 18 boats upon the sea. This is something which has been achieved through our sponsors, the fishermen, the staff, and everyone's support. Bringing the supporters here to talk with the fishermen in this way, and in coming to see the boats floating in the water, it is possible to convey feelings which cannot be expressed through photos or words. In coming here, those who gave their support can make new realizations which can then in turn be conveyed to others around the world. I feel this is very important, and in the sense of bringing people to reflect once again on 3.11, I feel this was a fantastic party."

Even though it has been one year and four months since the disaster, the work and life of the fishermen has still not returned to what it was, and even now over 100 fishermen are waiting for an "AD BOAT". Looking at the areas which still have no facilities and listening to the voice of local people, no one can avoid thinking "What is it that I can do?" It is the AD BOAT PROJECT which links with these thoughts and brings them into some concrete form.

"The fashion world has the power to make one look cool or cute. And by joining in a collaboration with the fishermen, their boats also become cool. 80% of Iwate's business is made up of the fishing industry. If we can bring our children to think "fishermen are cool" then this a new form of support which we may be able to provide. At the time of the disaster I am sure everyone felt that it was impossible to realize something in a short space of time. However, if tomorrow one by one we begin to shape something then in 10 years time it will come to take a concrete form. From now we also need support in the form of ideas. And while receiving these ideas and suggestions I hope we might be able to develop something new together with the fishermen."

"Visible Support" makes it possible to join people together and give rise to new ideas and new values. As a result of the connections born from this undertaking, after several years, I am sure there is the possibility that a new project will be initiated with collaborations between fishermen and companies making new waves on the Sanriku seas.

Hopes of promoting the model of "AD BOAT JAPAN" in other regions too

AD BOAT has gained much attention for its new original structure. And since hearing its positive reviews there has been no end of applications from fishermen. This has led Shimoyama, who runs AD BOAT PROJECT with Sugawara, to a new challenge.

"This project has been really well received by the fishermen, and they have come to really appreciate what we are trying to do here. We have been receiving applications for 30 to 40 boats from some other harbours, but we don't have the time resources to work on these one by one, so this is a major hurdle. For this reason we established "AD Boat Japan" as a limited company, because in the case of volunteering it can easily break up after 2 or 3 years. The challenge from now is to increase resources for transportation and management, and see how many people we can gather together to directly work in the affected areas."

Just along the coastline of Iwate 90% of fishing ships were destroyed by the tsunami, while Miyagi Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture also suffered similar great losses. Therefore it seems highly likely that the model of "AD BOAT PROJECT" is one suitable to be applied in the other surrounding areas.

"We are active in Iwate but if there is interest from Miyagi and Fukushima to tackle things in a similar way then we are more than happy to share our knowledge, and we would be most glad if this model were to be taken up. We are pursuing our work with limited time and people so there is a restriction on how much we can push ourselves. But we really hope to see a rise in the number of people who take the name and structure of AD BOAT JAPAN to realize support elsewhere."
Amongst the 18 ships was Hiroyasu Sasaki's "Ryouyumaru", while there are already three boats now in the harbor of Ozaki Shirahama which Sasaki takes as his base. On this day Sasaki talks of the pleasure in meeting with the various AD BOAT PROJECT supporters.

"I received much support and was able to get this boat on the sea, but I had no idea what kind of people I had received this support from. Today I was able to meet them face to face and talk with them, and I hope there will be more opportunities to do so."

The AD BOAT ships are not just marked with colourful logos, amongst these there can be seen a rich personality, including those which have been painted with skull and crossbones in the colours of the Italian flag. For the fishermen, their boat is as important as their family. In fact Sasaki was originally against his boat being wrapped in a logo mark, but since the completion of the first AD BOAT in October 2011, after one year nine months, each ship has come to shine with its own individuality.

"Now my boat is painted this magnificent orange, but at first I was a little against painting a pure white ship. But I was introduced to various designs and while consulting over this my worries faded. Now I really think that my boat has become cool and I enjoy seeing the differences between my own boat and that of others."
It is not only possible for companies to contribute to AD BOAT PROJECT but also individuals. If you donate just 21,000 yen then you will receive a gift from those you have supported once a year. In a harbor which saw the loss of hundreds of boats, now many fishermen are able to return to the seas. The AD BOAT PROJECT will surely continue, and ten years from now there are sure to be many more AD BOATS afloat in this port.

"Here those who support the project can see clearly how their money is being used and we are able to meet those to whom we are indebted. It is a great project so I really hope that it takes off elsewhere too. If each of those who have come to know this project would spread a word or too, then I hope it could reach out to many other places. I also hope the number of supporters and number of fishermen joining this project will continue to rise."

(Interview 7th July 2012 Ofunato city, Iwate Prefecture)

An AD BOAT painted in the form of a skull and cross bones in the colours of the Italian flag.

A group photo in front of the fishing flags. By bringing all those involved in the AD BOAT PROJECT together in one place new developments are sure to rise.





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Makoto SUGAWARA / Hiroyasu SASAKI


2-2-12, Odori, Morioka, Iwate Prefecture

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