Creating a symbol of hope for Japan
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Danielson - posted Mon., Apr. 25, 2011
Local resident Yori Ayotte grew up in Noberitsu, on the island of Hokkaido, just north of where the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Japanese coast. Her parents still live there.
“We are accustomed to earthquakes almost weekly,” she said. “This earthquake was strong, but it wasn't the strongest. But my parents knew something was different this time. My father said that was the longest earthquake he'd ever experienced.”
On the Saturday and Sunday following the Friday quake, she began to wonder if her parents were really alive. “People in Japan are in huge trouble,” she said. “Everyone felt guilty because we had a roof over our heads and food to eat. These poor people had everything taken away from them. I wanted to go to the place and do something.”
On Monday, she called her parents back. “When I heard my mom's voice, I couldn't talk,” she said. “I could with my father, but not with my mother. Then I realized that I was really worried.”
It was harder news to process than she realized. “I really suffered for two and a half days,” she said.
Her father's optimism helped her. “We came to the conclusion that it is sad, but people who are left need to do something. We need to do what we normally do, and that is how we can help the country move forward,” she said. “People with money can help keep the economy [going]. People with physical strength can keep going to work.”
Ayotte left Japan in 1997, after meeting and marrying her husband, a Navy man. They moved to Connecticut when he was transferred. She still keeps in touch with friends from high school. One lives in the town of Kesennuma.
“The water stopped about 30 feet away from her home,” Ayotte said.
Ayotte decided to do something for her homeland. She settled on making origami bookmarks, something to symbolize Japan. Her initial run of 80 bookmarks sold out through the Goodyear Learning Center, some after-school programs and at Woodstock Academy.
Origami paper is brightly colored and comes in different patterns. There are florals, stripes and designs. The paper has been cut to fit onto a piece of sturdy bookmark material. She has decorated the book marks with designs and stickers.
Friends from high school got involved. One sent her more origami paper and stickers from Japan.
One bookmark with pink paper and stickers of cherry blossoms had the word “cherry” written on it in Japanese script.
“Cherry blossoms [also] symbolize Japan,” Ayotte said. “Now is the time for cherry blossoms. To symbolize the hope of the country.”
To contact Yori Ayotte, call 860-774-4556.