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Nozomi Project Blog

Giving Back: Flood Relief in Western Japan

These past two months have been particularly devastating for the nation of Japan in terms of natural disasters. This week our beloved country has experienced Typhoon Jebi in western Japan and a 7.0 earthquake up north. Earlier this summer, constant heavy rains led to major flooding in southwestern Japan. Some areas had as much as 3 inches of rain per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Over 200 were killed in flood-related incidents.

In the spirit of spreading hope, Nozomi Project is sending 10% of our July and August sales to help the flood relief efforts. On July 22, 2018, a team from our Ishinomaki community went down to volunteer in a city near Hiroshima called Kure. They joined the Hiroshima Christian Volunteer Center, which has been helping to coordinate the relief efforts with the needs of the communities.

After they came back, we caught up with Chad, who helped coordinate the trip. We’re always honored to partner with him! He shared that the flood evidence was reminiscent of the 2011 tsunami up here – tall floodwater marks, piles of trash, people in great need. Positive aspects of the trip were similar, too: stories of hope, people serving each other, and beauty in brokenness.

Each morning of the week-long relief trip, the team met to discuss the day’s location and assigned tasks. Each day brought a different assignment depending on the needs of the community. The first day they shoveled mud and debris into bags. Another day, they hauled dirt bags away in wagons and onto trucks. There’s a temporary trash dump for the neighborhood; they drove dirt bags there once they’d been hauled onto the trucks.

relief volunteer group sitting around table volunteers in blue vests load debris on truck 

volunteers move dirt bags out of house mass of twisted metal used to be a car 

tall man stands near flood line with raised hand to show height pile of ruined tatami straw mats after flood

Tatami mats (last picture, above) are usually about 3 x 6 feet, a couple inches thick, and cored with wood chips or rice straw. They’re covered with dried woven rush, with cloth along the edges… in other words, they’re great sponges. Any tatami mats touched by floodwaters were soaked and completely ruined. This picture was taken in a neighborhood that had a couple rows of houses, most having tatami-covered ground floors.

Each mud-saturated tatami mat is so heavy that two grown men struggle to carry one mat together. When showing some of our Ishinomaki friends pictures from this relief trip, this picture of tatami mats actually got some of the most significant reactions.

The work was hard and hot. Right after the rains stopped, a huge heat wave caused health difficulties for survivors and a lack of volunteers. Chad told us that at some points, the volunteers were instructed to take a 5-minute break for every 10 minutes of working to avoid heat stroke!

In every disaster we see, we look for stories of beauty in brokenness. We asked Chad what kinds of things inspired thoughts of this theme during the Kure trip…

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There’s a man who has, on his own, been slowly working to mud out his home. He’s a bit of a hoarder, so his first floor is full of things that have been ruined by floodwaters. The team was assigned to his house one day. He looks at them a little warily when he sees that their vests identify them with the Hiroshima Christian Volunteer Center.

“I’m not a Christian…”

“It’s ok, we’re just here to help anyone who needs it.”

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Some local people came out to volunteer. One neighborhood sent a whole group. They want to serve their own community.

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A father-son duo is volunteering together. The teenage son isn’t always the most cheerful when told to do chores at home. But here, he serves joyfully. The father sees this, smiling with pride.

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Even in the face of disaster, the Japanese overwhelmingly display admirable qualities of patience and courtesy. They aren’t selfish or panicky. Chad has helped during numerous disasters, and he’s noticed this time and again. The people of Kure are no different.

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If you are interested in donating to the ongoing Japan relief efforts, you can do so here:  https://nozomiproject.com/collections/additional-donations-1

Chad is pictured below on the left. Eric (pictured below, right) is planning to lead another team from our community in several weeks. 

four men are dirty from mudouts but smile at camera  twilight makes purple sky over Kure after flooding

17 Ideas for a More Meaningful Holiday Season

  1. Make a plan before the holidays overtake you, and stick with it. Discuss and decide with your spouse/family/roommate, or make a written list of your plans to guide you when the days get busy.
  1. Give anonymously. Each year our family chooses a person or a family with a special need that year (unemployment, broken heater, etc.) and we have fun finding a sneaky way to buy and deliver to them a needed gift.

  1. Choose this year to decorate a little less. Clean out your decorations and deliver the still usable ones to a local charity. The very process of thinking through what you don’t really need feels good and helps strengthen your priority to simplify and focus on what counts.

 

  1. Give socially-conscious gifts that give back. Of course we love the Nozomi Project, knowing that all proceeds go to help the artisans and the community in the region where the 2011 tsunami struck. The theme of hope and beauty in brokenness makes for meaningful gifts (photo below). Other items from social enterprises we think are great: Trades of Hope offers great trivets and leather world map journals; table runners and flannel/kimono infinity scarves (Megumi Project); awesome leather satchels (Redemption Market);  soup and cornbread mixes (womensbeanproject.com). 

  1. Make homemade gifts! For adult projects we like these ideas: for your kids try some of these. Our personal family favorite annual gift is homemade candied pecans. We buy 18 pounds of pecans at a large warehouse store, and spend several evenings making these as a family and then giving them to neighbors, teachers, and friends. Really – these have become more popular than any store-bought gifts we might give! 

  1. Start a gifts-we-already-have-list (annvoskamp.com). Tape up a big piece of paper on a wall or door and throughout the season have members of your family write down the many blessings you are already thankful for this year.

 

  1. Who doesn’t love receiving a gift card? Surprise your family, friends, or coworkers with a gift card from one of these meaningful online shops: Raven & LilyTen Thousand Villages;  Nozomi Project. (Did you know you can buy, sell, and exchange gift cards here?)
  1. Friends of mine made up rules for living for one year, and carried them out through Christmas: buying only items that were local, used, homegrown or homemade. Choose any of these ideas for gift-giving and find joy in your choices. (See Craig Goodwin, Year of Plenty).
  2. Choose to help a child this season: become a monthly sponsor of a child, or send a financial or wrapped gift to a child in need. (Our family has personally been involved with Watoto orphans in Uganda; Compassion has children in need all over the world).
  3. No time to put together an Advent calendar of gifts for your family? Make a simple Advent wreath for your table and use this for a weekly gathering time to read the Christmas story together over four weeks as a family.

  1. Think about giving life enriching experiences. A membership to an arboretum or museum; ballroom dance classes; Rosetta stone language lessons; dates with your kids; gift certificates to audiobooks.com; concert tickets.

  1. Get a group of friends together and change up your normal holiday party plans: meet at a senior center to go caroling, with each person bringing a wrapped gift of socks and a new Reader’s Digest; then go back to someone’s home for eggnog and dessert.

  1. Choose a wonderful holiday story and carve out twenty minutes before bedtime each night to gather together and read the story. A few favorites: Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis); The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson); The Gift of the Magi (O. Henry); A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens).
  1. For setting perameters on gift-giving within your own family, we really like these guidelines: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. For this last category, last year I found a book list with themes of kindness that I used to buy books for our four children.
  1. When we pull out our stockings, we read our letters to Jesus that we wrote  back in January, as we were taking down the holiday decorations. These are letter/prayers we each write individually, beginning the year by asking Jesus to help us with a particular struggle or weakness. Even our youngest takes this seriously; it’s a great way to start the year dependent on Jesus and end it by celebrating growth.

  1. Give goats for Christmas! We decided with one group that we always exchanged gifts with, to instead pool our money each Christmas and come together and shop from catalogs – choosing to buy things like goats for a family in Africa; or mosquito nets for a village in the Philippines. Our kids AND the adults have loved the chance to not focus on us but give to those who really do need gifts like this. A few options we have used: World Vision Catalog; Compassion Catalog; Samaritan’s Purse Catalog

  1. Finally, please don’t try and do all of these things! Choose a few, live more simply, and make some new meaningful and wonderful memories this Christmas. What are YOUR favorite meaningful holiday traditions!

What can happen when women work together

As we approach celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Nozomi Project this month, we want to highlight the skill and artistry that our Nozomi team has developed. We couldn't be more proud of how this team of women have worked hard to create some of the finest pieces of pottery jewelry in the world. 

The heart of our Nozomi workshop is the grinding room.  This is where the pottery is cut, ground rough, then finely ground to perfection. Our team of seven are creative and seek to make the most beautiful items possible. 

Our Sara hook earrings have remained our best-selling collection. We've made over 7000 earrings! And they just get better and better. This morning we had a new set of earrings ready to go online, and look at these beauties! It's the first time in my memory that we have seen heart-shaped earrings (not in a frame). The skill! the beauty! This month we celebrate the craftsmanship that can happen when women work together. (Get them while they are still here!) 

 

 

Nozomi joins the Navy!

"We drove two hours to get here because we couldn't wait to go shopping at the Nozomi Project!"

"I came last year and purchased two beautiful necklaces - one for me and one for my sister.  The one for my sister somehow never made it to her.  Oops!"

"I love giving gifts to loved ones back home that have so much meaning attached.  I just finished all my Christmas shopping at the Nozomi booth!"

"My mom has cancer and I know this necklace will bring her hope."

"I can't believe it!  I admired this necklace when it was photographed for Facebook.  I found it here at the bazaar and I thrilled that I can own the one that i loved so much!"

 These are some of the encouraging comments we heard this past weekend as four of us from the Nozomi Project packed up a van full of jewelry and display items and headed seven hours south for the weekend to share our 'beauty in brokenness' with members of the armed forces serving in Japan.  

We loved talking to customers, hearing of so many who came to the bazaar just to find us.

Our two local staff, Chiemi and Tomoko, said that they were really nervous the first day but it was fun to see them enjoy interacting with so many Nozomi customers and with the American culture on the base.  Of course, we had to have dinner at Chili's on Saturday night!

It was a great weekend.  Thanks for our Yokota, Zama, and Yokosuka friends who came out to support the Nozomi Project!

2015 Anniversary Catalog!

 Over this coming month, we have lots of new products, promotions, and ideas that are going to be unleashed - we are excited!  We are starting with our first-ever catalog, featuring beautiful photos of our own staff and kids wearing Nozomi products.  Please enjoy - and share! 

http://nozomiproject.jp/pages/nozomi-lookbook-2015

 

 

 

White Day - Day for Reciprocating

Have you ever heard of White Day?  It's a holiday celebrated in Japan and it's all about reciprocating the gifts you received on Valentine's Day.  Isn't that fun?

Unlike the western notion of February 14, in Japan primarily women give chocolate gifts to men.  So March 14 is the day for returning the favor.  On White day, men buy a gift for the women who gave them chocolate.  Originally this was some kind of marshmallow treat, or white chocolate (hence the name "White Day"), but now anything goes.

Nozomi Project is honoring this day of giving by marking down four of our favorite lines of jewelry!  So Guys, here is your chance to follow the Japanese custom of White Day and enjoy purchasing beautiful gifts for the women in your life!  Women, you can take advantage of White Day as well by using this campaign as a chance to find great gifts for others and yourself.  White Day gives one more great reason to love Beauty from Brokenness.  

 

Iyori Stud Earrings: $24
Daiki Keychains: $24
Shiori Bookmarks: $24
Risa Ring: $30

Our friend and popular author and vlogger, Grace Buchele Mineta, has featured Nozomi Project in a recent vlog and explained the Japanese giving culture around White Day.  Check it out here.

Make sure to watch all the way until the end for a free shipping code you can use on your next purchase from Nozomi Project!

(White Day Sale starts 2/19, midnight EST, and ends 3/2, midnight EST.)

Give a one-of-a-kind Valentine!

Our special Valentine's campaign is featuring our lowest price of the year on our paired Sakura charm bracelets and our versatile Daiki keychains!  Choose yours now.

To make your job easier, we are providing special Valentine's wrapping if you purchase one of these two gifts, and we will include a hand-written personalized note.  (Please write out your note upon checkout in the "additional notes" section).  

Inhouse Models!

We have LOVED featuring our own staff this past week as our favorite models on Facebook!  We teamed together with our sister organization, Megumi Project.  Each of the women wore a Megumi scarf with a Nozomi accessory.  Here are a few that we have featured so far.  Aren't they beautiful?

Our Nozomi Project manager looks beautiful every day, but wearing this chic silky scarf and peach earrings makes her shine.  Find YOUR best color, and earrings to match. (Customers who order from one of our online stores will receive a free shipping coupon to order from our partner store). 
のぞみマネージャーのゆうこさんは毎日とってもきれい。でも今日特に輝いているのは、絹のような肌触りのシックなスカーフと桃色のイヤリングをつけているから。あなたにぴったりの色は何色?ぜひ探してみてください。(のぞみか恵のオンラインストアで商品を購入された方は、もう片方のプロジェクトでの購入時に送料が無料になるキャンペーン中!)

 Emi - You don’t need to live in Japan to wear these stylish ribbon scarves.  Style it around your waist, wear it around your neck, or tied in your hair as a long headband, you will love the versatility and the style of these one-of-a-kind repurposed scarves.  Emi completes her beautiful outfit with a matching luminous necklace from our Noa collection. 
どんなシーンにも使えるリボンスカーフ。ベルト代わりに腰に巻いたり、ネックレス感覚で首に巻いたり、ヘアバンドにもできる優れもの。おしゃれ度アップすること間違い無しです!えみさんは、輝く明るさを持ち合わせたNoaのネックレスを一緒にコーディネートしています。

 

For the young at heart!  Ayako is sporting a playful Megumi Project ribbon scarf (click here to see other options) with matching sky blue Mio earrings (see the selection of earrings at Nozomi Project here).  Repurposed has never been so fun.

Christmas Orders

We love this season!  Our staff are working harder than ever, and finding a lot of joy in making and sending out beautiful gifts!

Yesterday our head grinder came in on a day off to make more Daiki Keychains -- our first batch of 36 were almost all sold in three days.  

 

She made 26 beautiful new ones, ready to be sold tomorrow. (Wait and see them finished!)

   

Here's Abe-chan this afternoon, getting the orders ready for the postman.  Do you know one of the coolest things about doing business in Japan is that the post office comes to US to pick up our parcels each day?  That helps, especially on busy days following Cyber Monday and many Nozomi friends doing Christmas shopping! 

 

 

Special Drawing for Cyber Monday and Fair Trade Tuesday!

Nozomi Project Flash Sale!
**Cyber Monday and Fair Trade Tuesday**
Starting right now!
All customers who place an order on the website of the Nozomi Project or our sister organization Megumi Project until Tuesday night will be entered in a drawing to receive one of our amazing new Daiki keychains or Shiori bookmarks. We will be giving away one of each. Enjoy Christmas shopping that makes a difference!
(Flash sale starts now and ends Tuesday (12/2/14) midnight, EST)
www.megumiproject.net
www.nozomiproject.com