Yomawari and New Greens
Dear Family and Friends,
Some Japanese say they love “shinryoku”, new greens, even more than Sakura. The freshness of emerging life is uplifting and joyous. Many people celebrate by taking walks in the park or strolls along riverbeds.
I had not been to help Imai Sensei feed the homeless for several months. But recently I had time, so decided to go. En route there I came across students asking for donations for the victims of the Kumamoto earthquake. I met the same later in several other places. Many kind souls helped us in our time of great need, and still are. So we feel a particularly deep bond with those suffering today, albeit far away. And therefore, we give, we share. And that makes us feel happy.
When I arrived, the park where Imai Sensei’s Yomawari NGO meets was full of kids playing ball, swinging and sliding, shouting and laughing, delighting in the freedom offered by that beautiful spring day. Gradually, like quiet birds, one homeless after another began to arrive. They sat on benches in the sun, waiting for the food truck to arrive.
Yomawari volunteers are like professionals now. After years of running the program, they know just what to do. Within minutes everything – food and clothes – were ready.
Recently there have been fewer partakers. That is because some now have a room, provided by either the city or NGOs. They have to pay a minimal rent, but some of these gentlemen receive social security or a pension. Others find odd jobs, like cleaning Sendai Station before dawn. Likewise, many still go to Fukushima to help clean the nuclear plant there. And now maybe some will find their way to the far south, to Kumamoto, to lend their efforts there. That leaves mostly old men as the ones who rely on Imai Sensei’s ongoing generosity and kindness. Despite the fewer numbers, often young students volunteer serving food and handing out clothing.
Compared to other places, Sendai’s homeless count is not particularly high, a few hundred. But that number does not include the people who while away time in internet cafés or other accepting places that never close. It also does not include those without jobs, but are lucky to have a place to live.
Yomawari is unique in that it provides showers and laundry several times a week. Most often the clothes are folded neatly, but returned wet. The men graciously accept them and head to parks or riverbanks, where they spread them out to dry.
“This season is particularly good for that,” one volunteer told me. “The rainy season has not started. And it is warm and beautiful.” Then she added, “Aren’t the ‘new greens’ reassuring? Doesn’t this season make sharing easier? And doesn’t sharing make everyone feel happier?”