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The Music Returns to Ishinomaki

  • September 1, 2011

Restored Piano Gives Hope to Japan Disaster Survivors On Six-Month Anniversary of Earthquake and Tsunami

STAMFORD, CT – As the six-month anniversary of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami nears, many are still reeling from the massive loss of life resulting from the nation’s worst-ever natural disaster. Hope for the future, though, can be found in remarkable gestures of help and compassion – both large and small. In the hard-hit town of Ishinomaki, hope exists in the form of a restored piano thought lost to the thick layers of mud and debris brought inland by the tsunami. 

With the assistance of AmeriCares partner Peace Boat, volunteers descended on Ishinomaki to assist in a massive clean-up. Among the businesses included in the recovery effort was the Sarukoya Music Store, a family-owned business operated for 90 years. The tsunami tore through the music store, thrusting instruments through the front windows. The shop’s proprietor, Mr. Inoue, found one of his cherished pianos in the street, crushed under a car. He was convinced his business was forever ruined.

In mid-June, however, Mr. Inoue accepted an offer from the Peace Boat volunteers to reclaim his shop from the ruins. Volunteers, some armed with toothbrushes, painstakingly cleaned the shop and salvageable instruments for weeks. Mr. Inoue himself undertook the most important project: restoring the one piano to survive among the 30 once in his store.

This one piano, though perhaps never again pitch-perfect, has become a symbol of restoration for all in Ishinomaki. On September 11, the six-month anniversary of the disaster, famed Japanese performer Kumiko will play Mr. Inoue’s piano at a memorial concert. And the Sarukoya Music Store will likely see its 100th anniversary, which only months ago seemed impossible to the Inoue family.

Music, and hope, has returned to Ishinomaki.

NoteB-roll of the Ishinomaki memorial concert, Mr. Inoue and his restored piano and the Sarukoya Music Store will be available the week of September 12.

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