The calendar idea was created in May of 2012 but didn't pick up steam until November of that year when Ryan, Paul, and Henare all agreed it could be done. We decided to do it and pay for it ourselves if needed. We initially pooled our money to produce 1,000 copies and then presented our idea to our fellow foreign English teachers of Koriyama city and Fukushima prefecture. Many people agreed it was a great idea and donated additional funds to help. That enabled us to increase the number of calendars printed to 2,500.
Each year since then we've been blessed to meet or exceed our fundraising goal and send calendars all around the world. They are sent to politicians, media, foreign ambassadors and royalty. Not only do 100% of all donations go towards the calendar, each of us on the production team typically spend several hundred more out of our own pockets.
Our primary goal of the
first calendar was to show the real
beauty of Fukushima. We are not denying the three disasters that struck
our second home in 2011.
What we are saying is that the whole of the prefecture was not contaminated and most of it is still a beautiful and safe place to live in. There is a spirit of hope here, like the beauty of this magnificent land, that cannot be extinguished.
goal, moreso in the second calendar, was to show
people who are contributing to the ongoing efforts to help the people
of Fukushima. We also included photos of
interesting places and festivals.
The purpose of the photos in the calendar, aside from showing the beauty of this land, is for people to see the images and want to visit Fukushima. We live here, so we already know how beautiful it is. We want others to know it too.
There is simply so much
ignorance in the world about
Fukushima. People commonly relate it to Chernobyl. That was an old
running a stress test (which it failed). Fukushima Dai-ichi was a
in the process of shutting down. Some people even think the radiation
smart and stops right at the border.
The fact is that less than 3% of the prefecture is uninhabitable. The rest of Fukushima is trying to rebuild and move forward, which is difficult when so many people hear the name Fukushima and immediately assume the worst.
dollars raised for the calendar project
social media posts
cups of coffee consumed creating them
Ryan first came to Japan in 2002 to teach in Fukushima city. From 2005 to 2015, he was a Native Teacher at the Koriyama City Board of Education teaching grades 1-9 in several schools. In his free time, he likes working with video and motion graphics, screen printing, using 3D programs, building things, and volunteering.
Paul came to Japan in 2005 to teach English in Kitakata, Fukushima. After 5 years teaching grades 1-9 he moved to Hiroshima and then missed Fukushima so much, he came back when there was an opening for a Native Teacher at the Koriyama City Board of Education. In his free time, he likes photography, biking and aikido.
Henare came to Japan in 2007. He taught English in elementary and junior high schools working as a Native Teacher for the Koriyama City Board of Education. Sadly, he passed away in June 2019. His dedication to his students set a new standard among his peers that is difficult to match. His big heart and smiling face was always focused on the people of Fukushima. He will be dearly missed.
Mitch has been teaching English in both Aizu and the Koriyama area since 2003. In 2005 he started teaching in public schools and since 2011 he has been working for the Koriyama City Board of Education as a Native Teacher. In his free time Mitch enjoys Shorenji Kempo, barbequeing and just about anything involving the great outdoors.
Kevin came to Japan in 2014 to work for the Koriyama City Board of Education. He joined our production team the same year. He taught English at two junior high schools in Koriyama and now does translation work with a company in Tokyo. In his free time he enjoys kendo and volunteer work.
Joost is from The Netherlands and has lived in Fukushima since 2015. He studied Japanese language, history and international relations for several years which included exchange studies and internships in Kyoto, Osaka and Nagasaki. He works as a Coordinator for International Relations at Koriyama City Hall. His hobbies include music and running, preferably at the same time.
Alyssa arrived in Fukushima in 2016. She majored in Psychology and Japanese Language at the University of Pittsburgh. She taught English at the junior high school level for the Koriyama City Board of Education. Alyssa pursues a variety of arts and crafts in her free time and is very fond of cats. In August 2019, she returned to live and work in America.
Chandan arrived in Fukushima in 2001 and is still here! He majored in art education. He teaches English at the elementary school level for the Koriyama City Board of Education. Chandan's hobbies are drawing, studying kanji, watching movies, eating out at various restaurants, and playing video games.
Matt came to Koriyama in 2017. He has taught English at both the elementary and junior high school level for the Koriyama City Board of Education. His hobbies are chorus singing and volleyball.