In September, to celebrate the rebirth of northeastern Japan’s fishing industry after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, five Rotary clubs in the Oshu-Mizusawa area threw a party at the Plaza Inn Mizusawa. The guests enjoyed a dinner that showcased fish from Ofunato, a coastal town in Iwate Prefecture.
Before the event, Plaza Inn chef Kowa Sato, a member of the Rotary Club of Mizusawa-Isawa, drove about 25 miles with his team to buy fish at the Ofunato market, which had reopened that May.
On the day of the tsunami, the town had been covered in 50 feet of water, and 80 percent of its fleet had been wiped out. Iwate Prefecture, home to 4 percent of the fishing ports in Japan, suffered a reported US$97.5 million in damages to fishing vessels and harbor facilities because of the disaster; Japan’s fisheries account for $21 billion of its national income.
The dinner took place in an inland area of the prefecture that had been unaffected by the tsunami, showing that fresh fish from the coast is once again available to interior communities. By attending the event, the 500 guests, including about 50 Rotarians, demonstrated that seafood from Japan is safe to eat.