Cafe Canape Dream

April 23, 2013

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Kaoru and Kanae Chiba meet us every time we visit the Babanakayama district of Minamisanriku town. During our mid-March visit they showed us the place they want to set up a few trailer houses so they can make a community cafe and overnight accommodations.

They also showed us Kaoru's family's house. It sits right on the Pacific Ocean coastline and was inundated by the tsunami on March 11, 2011. But he and his parents have mucked it out, rebuilt the first floor, and are living in it. Kaoru's father owns a piece of property a few hundred meters from the family house. It sits on a bluff overlooking the Babanakayama fishing harbor where seaweed (wakame) is cultivated. This is where the Chibas are putting up their cafe and small "motel."

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The seaside bluff was itself covered by the tsunami - up to about 1.5 meter. So the Chibas are not legally permitted to build a permanent structure there. But they can put up temporary trailer houses. There is a hill just behind the property that makes an excellent getaway if another tsunami ever hits.

They hope their cafe will attract locals back to the town, including young people and children. Many have had to move away to temporary housing locations in the area. The local elementary school, just a few hundred meters from the cafe location, is scheduled to start up again in April 2014. As part of their cafe, they would like to put up a small playground for children. They hope this will encourage tsunami affected children to not be fearful of coming near the ocean. And Kanae has shared that she would like to create an environment where young people can come for a romantic date by the ocean!

When we attend Kaoru and Kanae's wedding reception and party on April 29, we will be delivering a large dish cupboard for the cafe. This will encourage Kanae as she sets up her cafe kitchen. We are also looking into the possibility of buying, shipping, and setting up some children's playground equipment. (dale little)