A sushi shop in the town I wanted to protect Two months from heavy rain damage to recovery October 2 10:19

It was a mid-September night, two months after the record-breaking rains that hit Akita Prefecture. The only sushi shop in the inland town was lit for the first time in two months.

The laughter of regular customers echoes in the store. Two months after the heavy rain, a familiar sight has returned.

Everything is to protect "this place".

It is a record of more than 2 days between the shopkeepers who worked on the reconstruction and those who were eagerly awaiting the reopening.

(Akita Broadcasting Station reporter Yoichiro Shida)

Day 1: Record heavy rain in Akita Prefecture

The rain that started on Friday, July 7, did not weaken and continued to fall the next day, the 14th.

Four months after joining Akita Broadcasting Station, this was my first large-scale flood disaster. In Akita City, the total rainfall in 15 hours exceeded 4 mm, the largest on record.

The area around the broadcasting station adjacent to Akita Station was also flooded to the waist height of adults, and carp that had flowed in from somewhere were swimming on the road in front of the station.

two days, I was unable to go outside the station, and my anxiety only increased as I repeated telephone interviews with municipalities.

(*As of October 2, the number of flooded households in Akita Prefecture is said to be about 10,10, but the full extent of the damage is not known at the time of publication of this article.)

Day 3: Coverage in Gojome Town, which was hit by heavy rain

On July 7, the water in the center of Akita City receded slightly. I was able to go out and cover the news, and I headed to Gojome Town, which had been severely damaged.

It takes about 16 hour north of Akita City by car. An inland town with a population of about 1,8000 was in a difficult situation.

The river that flowed through the town was flooded everywhere, and trees several meters long were caught in the bridge girders. The river became a brown turbid current, making a sound that I had never heard before, as objects collided with each other in the water.

In the town, one man was found dead in a car that was drenched in water that day. In addition, about 1 households were damaged by flooding above the floor, and water was cut off in almost the entire town.

In the face of the fury of nature, I felt helpless, but I managed to convey part of the damage.

Day 32 Back to town

On August 1, one month has passed since the record-breaking rainfall. A senior reporter who had covered Gojome Town in the past told us the local story.

"There is the only 'sushi shop' in Gojome Town in the town, but it seems that it was damaged considerably by the heavy rain this time"

What kind of damage is the situation? I didn't find any mention of it in the local newspaper articles that reported the damage in various places every day. I aimed for a store with a sign of "Sawajushi" that I had been taught by my seniors.

The shop was located in an alley one street from the main street in the center of town.

"Thank you very much,"

said the owner, Mitsuaki Konno (1), wearing a T-shirt and sweatshirt.

In August, the temperature in Gojome Town exceeded 8 degrees Celsius every day. In such a scorching heat, Ms. Konno draped a towel over her shoulder and carried the cooking utensils soaked in muddy water out of the store.

There was nothing in the store to the point of saying, "Why is there nothing in the store?"

The chairs on the counter and the tatami mats laid on the tatami room have also been removed to reveal the framework. There is no fish tank or a refrigerated showcase for laying out the material.

It is said that the whole store was covered in muddy water and could not be used.

"This barely remained."

Mr. Konno showed us the "goodwill" that was displayed in front of the store with mud in some places. It is said that they managed to bring it into the car while a large amount of muddy water flowed in.

I decided to listen further.

At that time, the unexpected "speed of increasing water volume"

"In Gojome Town, heavy rain fell last year, and the nearby river rose and water reached the front door of the store and the garage, so we took measures such as piling sandbags in front of the garage and at the entrance, but the damage exceeded our expectations."

What exceeded Konno's expectations as he was preparing for the heavy rain was the speed at which the water volume increased.

"When I walked outside in the evening to deliver sushi, I saw water all over the place, and I thought, 'This is not in a state where I can work,' and when I went back to the store, there was already water in the store.

Mr. Kinno and the others rushed to the second floor of the house next to the store. The height of the water ended up being more than 2 meter. While the water did not recede, he spent the night relying on a small radio and a small light from a candle.

"I was worried that the water would not come to the second floor, so I watched the first floor many times, and I could hardly sleep."

When Mr. Kinno entered the store at dawn, the inside of the store was filled with a large amount of mud.

"It was like walking in a rice field. There were a lot of things lying around there, but I didn't know where to start."

Strong desire to rebuild

Ms. Konno talks about how she finally scraped out the mud and replaced the tatami mats after nearly a month. While income during this period was cut off, at least 1.360 million yen was required for personnel expenses.

In addition, they have no idea how much it will cost to restore their stores and homes. He prioritized reopening the store and confided that he hadn't done enough to clean up the house yet.

"I want to do my best not to be told that the (sushino) material fell or that things got worse because of the heavy rain."

After she finished speaking, Ms. Konno wiped her eyes with a towel.

Whether it's running a deficit, postponing the restoration of housing, or being so hard that the uncertain future brings tears to your eyes, why is Konno aiming to rebuild the store? Touched by some of Mr. Konno's feelings, I asked him to cover the path to the reconstruction of the store, and he readily agreed.

In Gojome Town, where I was born and raised

Konno embarked on the path of sushi when he was 19 years old. Born and raised in Gojome-cho, Konno aimed to become a chef and was working part-time at a restaurant in a neighboring town when he was invited by the master of a sushi restaurant who was a regular customer to go on the path of sushi.

After 13 years of training, on July 32, Heisei 9, when he turned 7, he opened "Sawajushi" in his hometown of Gojome. The shop name "Sawa" is taken from the maiden name "Sawadaishi" of Mr. Kinno, who was adopted by his son-in-law.

"'Sawadaishi' is a name that is common in Gojome-cho,"

says the sushi restaurant, which is familiar to locals. It has been 9 years since we named the restaurant with such a wish.

At the time of opening, there were 26~4 sushi shops in Gojome-cho, but before I knew it, there was only one sushi restaurant in Kinno-san's "Sawajushi".

"There are many relatives, classmates, friends, and people in this town who are close to each other, and the words 'thank you' and 'thank you' are the most empowering, and I do my best to hear their voices."

Resuming the business of "Sawajushi" in Gojome Town is to restore the local people and their own daily lives. For that, we are willing to go through any hardship or sacrifice.
I sensed "strong determination" from Mr. Konno's words.

What is the "power" that supported the "revival"?

What supported Mr. Konno's efforts to rebuild was the kindness and words of support of many people.

When the water started to recede from the town, many people came to help with the store. Some shoveled out the mud, while others offered us rice balls and drinks.

Konno: "I had a strong feeling that I could do it because of the support and words of the people around me.

Some people encouraged them by e-mail or letter because they could not go to help with the recovery.

As she listened to the supporters, Konno's eyes seemed to moisten.

"Sometimes tears come out of gratitude, and when things calm down, I start to think about those things."

Local artisans supporting reconstruction

I heard that there were local people who would support the reopening of Mr. Konno's shop, so I decided to go see him.

This is Junichi Kodama, 78, who runs a joinery shop.

Twenty-six years ago, when "Sawajushi" was built in Gojome Town, we installed bran and other fittings.








Hiroyuki Tsuchinotsuka:
"They take care of me as a small eater and serve it without saying anything about my fish preferences. The owner has a good personality, and if you don't, you're in trouble."

The sashimi platter chosen by Mr. Konno is served with sour at the beginning and whiskey from the second cup onwards.

The two hours between when he started drinking around 2 p.m. and when he returned around 6 a.m. by his wife were blissful times for him, a routine he had followed for 8 years.

On July 2, when heavy rain was damaged, Mr. Tsushinozuka was about to go to the store. However, when the rain intensified and I returned home and asked Mr. Konno if he was safe, he received a short message.

"It's on the store floor (flooded), and the house."

For the next two months, Tsushinozuka was eagerly awaiting the reopening.

I thought it would be bad to offend Mr. Kinno, who is in a difficult situation, so I refrained from contacting him.

Still, in September, Mr. Tonozuka finally couldn't stand it. I sent a message to Mr. Konno on SNS.

"I want to have dinner with delicious sashimi, when will the restaurant open?"

The reply read:

"It will be around the middle of this month,"

said Tsushinozuka, who asked about the date of reopening and made a reservation for a seat at the counter where he usually sits.

"I can't stand it anymore, because it's the best restaurant."

Day 64 "Resurrection"

September 2, two months after the heavy rain damage.

"Sawajushi" will resume for the first time in two months.

Konno: "We were planning to reopen in early September, but it took a bit of time and effort, and I wondered what the cause and effect of reopening in exactly two months after the heavy rain."

Mr. Konno in an apron looked somewhat happy.

In the new store, there are many flowers such as phalaenopsis. People inside and outside the town delivered it.

"I think I have come this far thanks to the support and encouragement of so many people, and I will hold the sushi with all my heart and consistency, while being happy to finally be able to work and thanking the people who come."

The sender of the flowers is also the name of Mr. Kodama, who replaced the bran and other fittings in the store. Mr. Kodama visited the store after 5 pm.

"Congratulations on the reopening of the restaurant, I'm going to buy some sushi today," "Thank you for the flowers,"

Kodama happily took home a sushi for one person with tuna, shrimp, and seasonal white fish.

And the first person to visit the restaurant was Mr. Tsushinozuka, who had made a reservation at the counter seat.


Konno nodded slightly, handing him the usual sour and recommended tuna sashimi.

"Shikotama (= pretty), it was a long time,"

he said, holding a sour in his hand, expressing his joy at his first blissful time in two months.

Even after that, regular customers visited the restaurant constantly, and people enjoyed dishes such as sushi, sashimi, and tempura. Everyone in the store was smiling.

"I guess that's what the word 'look forward to' means," he says,

explaining how important the town's only sushi restaurant was to the locals. Looking at the scenery filled with warm laughter, I felt that I understood why Mr. Konno wanted to rebuild.

= Postscript = 83rd day Many customers at the store on this day

In early October, more than three weeks after the store reopened, a report was broadcast summarizing the movement toward the revival of Sawajushi. I visited the shop again as a thank you.

I visited the restaurant during lunch time. The shop was full of customers on this day as well. And the counter was newly decorated with flowers.

"It arrived after the report aired,"

Konno told me with a smile.

"It's obviously busier than at the same time last year, and people are always saying, 'I've been waiting, I'm glad I did.' I'm really happy and grateful that the restaurant is open and customers are coming."

The shop has finally reopened. However, not all of the challenges have been solved.

Replacing the kettles and stoves prepared in a hurry for reopening, and replacing all the dishes with fine mud will be even more expensive. It is also said that it will take a little more time to truly "get back to normal", such as mud marks in the corners of the walls and dirty joints on the floor.

Still, Ms. Konno said with a smile that the joy of holding a sushi was great.

"When you're so busy, you don't have time to worry, it's hard, but I'll keep doing my best."

(Broadcast on "Good Morning Japan" on October 10)

Akita Broadcasting Station reporter
Shida Reiwa joined the station in 4 years, and now my father's parents' house in charge of police, justice, and subculture is a cafeteria in Fukushima Prefecture I wanted to go back to eat for the
first time in
a long time.