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HOME NEWS 【10 Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake】 Looking into the Past, Present, and Future: Vol 3. Message from Ms. Miri Yu, Owner of Book Cafe "Full House"

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2021/03/07

【10 Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake】 Looking into the Past, Present, and Future: Vol 3. Message from Ms. Miri Yu, Owner of Book Cafe "Full House"

Award-winning author and stage actress, Ms. Miri Yu resides in Minami-Soma in Fukushima Prefecture and runs a small book cafe. The interview series focuses on Ms. Miri Yu and her staff at Full House. Civic Force works with Full House through the NPO Partner Projects.

Oasis for Local Residents

After a quick two minute walk through a shopping street from Odaka Station on the JR Joban Line, you can find the book cafe, Full House. Since its opening in 2018, the cafe has become a gathering spot for local highschool students and residents to explore books and enjoy the vibe. The cafe was closed due to COVID-19 in April 2020 and reopened in December.

The cafe owner, Ms. Miri Yu hosted a local radio program run by a disaster response radio channel and interviewed 600 local residents until the station closed in March 2018. During that time, Ms. Yu sold her house in Kamakura and moved to Minami-Soma. She bought an old house damaged by the nuclear power plant meltdown which she renovated into a book cafe.

Odaka Ward is located within a 20km radius from the Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant and the area was restricted for a long time. In July 2016, the restriction was lifted throughout Odaka except for a few areas. However, the town's population of 13,000 shrunk by 70% and about half of the returnees are people over 65 years old. Odaka Station has become an unmanned station and is empty. "Residents lost touch with each other. I would like this cafe to become an oasis for people who are walking a difficult path."

The cafe is filled with books that were hand picked by Ms. Yu's writer friends

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"It's more nerve-wracking than being on stage."

Ms. Yu's 2014 book, "Tokyo Ueno Station" was awarded the National Book Award on November 19, 2020. The main character is a man from Minami-Soma. Yu wrote the story while visiting Fukushima to discuss the 2011 disaster and the nuclear power plant accident with local people. The town celebrated her recognition with congratulations at the local municipal offices. "Managing the cafe is actually more nerve-wracking than being on stage," laughed Yu. Young actors who stood on the stage for her play now work at the cafe. Mr. Kanato Shiroiwa said, "I am very happy working for the shop I love. I hope I can be good company for local people." Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11:00am - 6:00pm.

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The cafe offers dishes featuring locally grown vegetables, fish, and meats.

Civic Force is supporting disaster recovery efforts in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima through the NPO Partner Projects. Please click here for more details.

The Great East Japan Earthquake was said to have been a once in a thousand-year disaster and recovery efforts are still underway. Civic Force continues assisting local NPOs in the affected areas and supports the recovery efforts. Please support our cause and donate here.