Mr. Shin Onodera (45), who moved to the island around 4 years ago said, "I want to build maaany small connections within Suo-Oshima Island".
This is him:
Shin, a former car mechanic who surfed as a hobby, is originally from Iwate prefecture. While touring Japan searching for waves, he stopped by at Suo-Oshima Island. Though it has next to no waves, the Seto Inland Sea island charmed him so much he decided to move there.
When asked the reason, the man-of-the-sea says, "It must've been fate."
Some years ago he swapped his surfboard for a fishing boat, and started work as an assistant fisherman. He acquired a boat license and just when everyone thought he was going to become a fisherman, he said he was going to be a traveling vendor. Apparently, while helping with the fishing, he realized that locals could not buy local fish.
The Suo-Oshima Island population aging rate is over 50%. Local fresh fish retailers are decreasing in numbers while many of the elderly don't have cars. As he listened to the stories of the locals, his resolution became stronger and he decided he'd be the one to do it. Investing all the money he’d saved from fishing, he bought a small truck and personally changed it for use in sales.
He received permission from the health care center, and decided to name his business "Suo-Oshima Kakehashi Market". One of his islander friends made the logo, and even the music he plays when out vending is by a musician from the island. Naturally, he only procures local fish, all of it from Suo-Oshima Island.
Shin wants to deliver fresh fish to local people, while it still is fresh. If he cannot provide the freshest fish, he takes the day off. That's the stance with which he slowly started.
”To become a mediating bridge within Suo-Oshima Island”, his dream is reflected in the name of his company, "Suo-Ohshima no Kakehashi".
"The island is so big that there are many things that aren't well known. I want to let everyone know that there are so many good things. I want to build many small connections all over the island."
"I'll be waiting for you next week, too."
It's something all the grandmothers on the island always say when he’s about to leave. Shin replies, "Okay!" with big smile.
Watching the ladies waving goodbye to the truck until they cannot see it anymore, I think I catch a glimpse of the future of the business.
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Masashi Fujimoto
Masafumi Fujimoto Hi there! My name is Masafumi Fujimoto. Until the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was engaged in editing production at an advertising company in Tokyo. However, the earthquake was a turning point in my life and I headed home to Yamaguchi. When I arrived, I was extremely energized and motivated to help revitalize the region, but I had a hard time adjusting to the motivation level of the local people. Around that time I met an elderly lady who said: "It doesn't matter if all the people move away from the island; that's just the nature of things. Someday people will come back again." Lessening the tension I’d been feeling, those few words relieved me hugely, and I was able to finally adjust. Since then, I've been involved in writing and editing magazines, and working in advertisement production, as well as doing a little bit of farming. I also spend time walking around Setouchi searching for the many, many voices out there.
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