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The Red Cross Smile Park in Fukushima is an indoor playground for children who can rarely play outside since the nuclear accident eleven months ago. In Iwaki, events such as the Smile Smile Class are designed to rebuild community ties among evacuees and teach skills like first aid. The idea is that eventually communities will run their own classes.

Tamayo Furakawa, Smile Smile Class, Iwaki

"I was at home in Hirono when the tsunami came. I didn't manage to get a temporary home in this part of the housing. I live further away so I don't see my friends very much. Being here today was fun, it has cheered me up and I enjoyed doing the exercises. Some of the people I have seen today, it's the first time I’ve seen them since the disaster.”


Sadako Kan-No, 76, Smile Smile Class, Iwaki

“I stayed in Hirono town until October because I volunteered to help cook for the people working to make the power plant safe. Today was fun it was good to see everyone again and talk to each other.”


Shoichi Kishinami, Fukushima Red Cross, organiser of the Smile Park event

“The best thing is that the Red Cross is creating opportunities for people to meet again. Some people haven't seen each other since the disaster, so it’s important to do this in as many places as possible to create a spirit of togetherness. This disaster is a chance to renew our community ties and bring back a real sense of community.”


Tomoko Sito, 74, Red Cross volunteer, Smile Park, Fukushima

“When I was young I used to juggle balls and bamboo sticks – I could juggle six sticks. Now I try and teach the children the old games we used to play. The kids look very happy and they are enjoying it. I just wish this could be outside, under the blue sky would have been nicer.”


Megumi Goto, 34, Smile Park, Fukushima

“I never thought the Red Cross would provide this kind of service. It’s good for the parents, and we don't have anywhere else as large as this for children to play indoors. It’s a very nice space that they've created and I’m really thankful that it is free to come here”


Michiko Hoshi, 79, Smile Smile Class, Iwaki

“I stayed with eight different relatives before moving into the temporary house. This is the first time I’ve been to a Red Cross event like this. The best thing I learnt was how to do CPR for people having a heart attack and I’m very happy to meet everyone here.”


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Photos © BRC/ Patrick Wack


Yukie’s story: scared of the ground we walk on

The Moriguchi family at Smile park
01 Mar 2012

Since the disaster at the nearby nuclear power plant, life has been difficult for residents of Fukushima city.

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