What's this Challenge about?
From Fukushima To The World. We Have Stories To Tell.
Hi, everyone! We're Team Fukushima (NPO). Our prefecture, Fukushima, suffered from severe damage from the Great Earthquake on March 11, 2011, and the nuclear disaster that followed. Two months after the earthquake, we launched the Fukushima Sunflower Project and have worked to bring recovery to Fukushima.
We’ve received love and care from great many people through the project, and many wonderful stories were born. The goal of this Challenge is to make a picture book that will tell those stories to little children all over the world.
About The Fukushima Sunflower Project
In the Fukushima Sunflower Project, we ask people to be “foster parents” to sunflowers. They first purchase seeds from Fukushima, plant and grow them on their own, and once the flowers are big enough to produce seeds, send back the seeds to us.
One of our goals was to create employment in the prefecture. Residents of local institutions for the mentally challenged have worked in the project, bagging seeds and drawing designs of our thank-you cards. We also aimed to boost tourism, to connect Fukushima with the rest of the world, and to make sure what happened to Fukushima will not be forgotten.
In 2011, over 100,000 became “foster parents” to sunflowers. We planted the seeds in 9,000 different locations in Fukushima, and next year they all bloomed beautifully. We were touched by the fact so many people cared and wanted to do something for Fukushima. Through this project, we could feel Kizuna, strong bonds, growing between people of Fukushima and those from everywhere.
What is Kizuna?
Kizuna, a Japanese word that translates to "a strong bond," became wide spread in the country after the Great Earthquake in 2011. It's not a surprise the word resonated with people’s hearts at the time when so many of us were deep in grief and sorrow. At the same time, the word had grown so popular that it’s been often overused without conveying its true essence.
One time, we visited a kindergarten to speak about our project. After the talk, a girl came up to us and asked, "What is Kizuna?" She had heard the word before, but she didn’t know what it meant.
We all felt we had learned what Kizuna really meant through our project. It was in everything we had received from many, many people. Still, none of us knew how to explain it to that little girl.
We didn’t want Kizuna to be another “word of the year.” We wanted everyone, including little kids who grew up hearing it on TV, to know what it really means. We kept thinking about how we could get it across to the girl and every little kid who would ask the same question. The answer we came up with is to create a picture book, for sometimes pictures tell much more than words.
You say FUKUSHIMA, we say HIMAWARI!
Once the picture book is completed, we will bring it to the London Book Fair to find a publisher so children all over the world can read it.
"Fukushima" is now a word known by everyone in the world, sadly, because of the nuclear disaster. Most hear the word and picture a land damaged infinitely by the nuclear disaster, which is far from the truth.
We’d like to change the situation. We hope, through our book, people will say “Himawari,” the Japanese word for sunflowers, when they hear “Fukushima.” We’d like people to start thinking of fields full of sunflowers, a city filled with hope and admiration, so the children of Fukushima will feel proud of their city and country.
Help Us Make the Sunflower Picture Book Come True!
We need your help to make this happen. Help us make this book and deliver to kids all over the world. The story is worth telling, inspired by all the love and support we received in our Sunflower Project. It's time for us to return the favor with this gift of love and pride.
We plan on releasing the book on March 11 for general sale. Your rewards may arrive before the date, in which case, you can feel free to give out or sell copies on your own (at the fixed price, preferably).
Lend your hand. We need your support now!
About the Picture Book
Story of Kizuna
The book tells a story about animals sending love and care to each other and bonding through creating a sunflower field. Children from two to ten years old have been "supervising" the book by becoming the first readers of the draft.
Traveling Bear Helps You Connect to Fukushima
Children will get a reply when they write a letter to the book's main character, Traveling Bear. If they include sunflower seeds they grew, Traveling Bear will go around Fukushima to deliver the seeds to his friends.
You Can Take Part in the Story
The book comes with a bag of sunflower seeds. Children can plant them and grow their own sunflowers just like they're characters of the book.
Here's a little preview of the sunflower picture book.
Traveling Bear goes on a thrilling adventure...
Kids love following his footprints!
Little Chipmunk munching on sunflower seeds
The animals in the picture book are all unique and adorable. Our young "supervisors" love them!
About the Author
The author of the Sunflower Picture Book is Kyoko Hara. She learned picture-book writing in the workshop by Takako Nakagawa, author and lecturer.
The Sunflower Book will be her first work to be published. Watch the video below to hear her message.
Fukushima Sunflower Project
Team Fukushima (NPO)
Visit our website (in Japanese) to learn more about the Fukushima Sunflower Project: