This past August when I volunteered with All Hands a dream showed up on the job board. I had to do dishes for 100 people to guarantee me a spot but it was worth it. I would finally be one of the people painting an inspirational mural. Miyazaki Kensuke, a well know Japanese artist and muralist wanted to create a beacon of hope for the people of Ofunato. He approached a local barber who had built his shop wear his house use to stand if he would be willing to have a mural cover the building he rebuilt on his own. He told the barber his shop was the perfect location because it was on a hill, in an area that was washed away on March 11 which meant it could seen from a distance and inspire the recovery works and the people during this difficult transition time.
When the other All Hands Volunteers and I arrived we were greeted by Ken in his coveralls splashed with years of paint and his infamous hand painted cap. He told us about his work in the United Kingdom, Kenya, United States, and Japan and this one was the closest to his heart, but would follow the same theme of working Hand in Hand with gifts being passed all around.
For the first day we would paint the first coat and then for 4 days (when it didn't rain) we keep adding layers, with Ken telling us where and what color. He would draw things in chalk and allow us to paint in the lines,with him finishing with the details. Ken had the true artist temperament because when we suggested colors, such as blue, he would say no I think green. We also weren't allowed to mix colors, until our last day when were running out of time. The final result is a phoenix on the roof dropping presents by parachutes to the waiting people of the world which includes 3 All Hands Volunteers and the barber and his family, who are standing on a beautiful arrangement of flowers.
Throughout the process over 20 people worked on this amazing project, with a special shout out to Kim#1 who was our team leader for the first 3 1/2 days, but had to go back to work and sadly did not get to see the finished project in person.
We all had a great time working together and even more fun painting each other. My favorites being when Andy UK was painted by the two grandchildren from his toes up to his knees, and when we turned Daiki's polo in to a $100 polo by painting on white stripes and a NIKE swoosh.
I am so happy to have by mural dream realized in such a meaningful way with such amazing people.
I almost forgot this project (and my picture) was talked about in at least 4 different Japanese newspapers.