The unusual koban (Japanese police box) equipped with ticket-vending machines. In fact, it’s the Watanoha koban of the Miyagi Prefectural Police Department, under temporary relocation into the Watanoha Station building due to the effects of the disaster. He gathers items of police information at the start of his day as a journalist. Carrying a pot of hot water to the unheated koban has become part of his daily routine. The earthquake and tsunami destroyed his house and left his printing factory unusable. Although his immediate family narrowly escaped, he lost his sister and her husband. It was his long-time readers’ eager hope that spurred him to publish again, despite his earlier decision to retire, considering his age. Ojika recommenced operations in September for the sake of the townspeople. Bustling about by bike to collect materials, he reported information of the disaster and reconstruction and at first delivered without charge. Advertising dropped sharply, and the subscribers dispersed to temporary housing and other relocations. Mailing costs also grew higher and higher – it was difficult to make a profit. Layout and printing of the paper are the job of his oldest son and his wife. His wife handles sales activities and makes her rounds for delivery. His grandchildren voluntarily assist to deliver the papers to temporary housing. As the source for precious local information, Ojika’s circulation of some thousands serves as a vital link for the people. For this man who has continued to report matters that larger newspapers are not able to cover, the disaster suspended publication for only six months. Promising that he will rebuild his factory within this year, he showed his dazzling smile.

Toshio Hiratsuka

Born in Watanoha, Ishinomaki City, in 1925. Worked at the Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation during World War II. Drafted and assigned to the anti-aircraft artillery in the army. Employed at the local newspaper, Ishinomaki Minyu after the war, then founded Shukan Watanoha (Weekly Watanoha), the predecessor of the Oshika Shinbun (Oshika Newspaper), in 1949. The Oshika Shinbun is issued four times a month, and is delivered to Watanoha, Onagawa, and the area of the former Oshika County.
Cooperation: the Watanoha police-box of the Miyagi Prefectural Police Department; Watanoha Printing Company; and Mr. Hajime Inoue, President, Ishinomaki RINRI Hojinkai.

This article originally appeared in “Shinsei” magazine,
April 2012 issue, published by RINRI Institute of Ethics.
Partially rewritten to update for this internet release.

Spirit and Spine

created by

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)