Fukko-ichi (Minamisanriku Fukko Market)

"Connecting people to people and bringing life to Minamisanriku."

“Connecting people to people and bringing life to Minamisanriku.”

Mr. Masafumi Yamauchi is the President of Yamauchi Inc., which sells fresh fish, shellfish, and processed marine 11 products in Minamisanriku. In the twinkling of an eye on March 11, 2011, the town where he was born and lived was swallowed up by the huge tsunami. Mr. Yamauchi lost everything: his house, store, factory, and so on. Almost all the people who evacuated to the hills returned to find they had lost their homes. They lost their homes and workplaces. There were many people who also lost their family, relatives, and important friends.

On top of getting food and managing the evacuation centers, there was a heap of things to do. Mr. Yamauchi began to take action immediately.

During those days in the evacuation center, Mr. Yamauchi talked with his colleagues who had run the stores in the town.

“We shall never give up. We must inspire everybody. “

“Let’s start a market as early as possible.”

“But there is nothing to sell, is there?”

“Never mind. Something will turn up. First of all, we have to light a signal fire so that people all over the world will not forget Minamisanriku. And let’s cheer up the people in Minamisanriku. “

The new market was named “Minamisanriku Fukko Market.” Fukko is “福 興” in kanji characters. “福” means “to be happy” and “興” means “to revive.” The name expresses our strong wish to bring happiness to everyone.

As a chairperson of the Executive Committee, Yamauchi has always kept a smile on his face and encouraged his colleagues to take action, even while living in the evacuation center.

To help out, there was a company that donated the necessary tents immediately. Mandarin oranges, amberjack, yellowtail, and other daily necessities were sent from the towns throughout Japan that have been members of the Disaster Prevention Morning Market Network since before the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Only a little less than 50 days after suffering such a disaster, on April 29 and 30, Mr. Yamauchi and his group opened the “Minamisanriku Fukko Market” in the schoolyard of Shizugawa Junior High School.

Signboards for each store that was destroyed by the disaster were made and attached to the tents. Of course, not all the goods sold were related to each store’s business. Also, not all storekeepers were able to participate in selling there.

“It was unlikely that every storekeeper could sell products at the market. But, we wanted to express, ‘We will take action’ ,” Mr. Yamauchi says. It is said that on both days 15,000 people visited the Fukko Market.

Many of the visitors were from the town. The residents, who had got separated taking refuge, met again for the first time after the disaster and felt happy that they were alive. Here and there in the market people hugged each other and shed tears. Mr. Yamauchi and the members of the Fukko Market Executive Committee felt that it was worthwhile forcing themselves to open the market earlier than was reasonable. The Fukko Market is held on the last Sunday of every month. In June 2014, the 36th market was opened. Each time many people visit the market, and Minamisanriku is bustling. Management of the Fukko Market, which had to start with a loss, continues today self-supporting and independent.

The achievements of Fukko Market are not only continuously attracting many people and the direct economic effects brought by visitors buying Minamisanriku’s products. The market is a place to form unlimited connections between people, arouse enthusiasm again in people who suffered from the disaster, and get the people who have given up the power to reconstruct their stores or companies and challenge for revival.

“Action starts from those who can do. We can convey our energy as merchants to other people. This is all that we have done. We have not done anything great. The only thing we can do is make an honest effort step by step. Anyhow what is important is human relationships. That is the biggest treasure of this town.”

Wearing the boots that have become his trademark, Mr. Yamauchi always works and takes action.

“We can just consider the reasons later.”

How many people have been encouraged by Mr. Yamauchi’s smiling face?

The Minamisanriku Fukko Market will continue to open at the end of every month, wishing for the revival of the town and gathering the smiling faces of Minamisanriku.

Hours: Every last Sunday or weekend of the month (please confirm on facebook or contact for exact date)

Tel: 090-7077-2550 (Closed Wednesday) Fax: –

Email: –

Url: http://www.facebook.com/fukkouichi

Other: Date, time and place vary by month; inquire for details. / Different events available depending on the season (e.g. summer: “natsu-matsuri” summer festival and fireworks).