Hanamaki’s Strong in the Rain Initiatives


Iwate Prefecture

The city of Hanamaki, in Iwate, is currently registerd as a 2020 Olympic Arigato Host Town for visiting athletes and tourists from both the United States and Austria. However, with the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, and the postponement of the Olympics, Hanamaki has decided to theme its various host town initiatives around Ame ni mo Makezu (Strong in the Rain), a poem by the Hanamaki-born Miyazawa Kenji (1896 – 1933), who was a famed fairytale author, poet, and educator.

[Strong in the Rain] Mask Initiative

With the postponement of the 2020 Olympics, Hanamaki was tasked with thinking of a way to allocate national funding, originally set for host town activities, in a way that would promote its international relations. As such, the Hanamaki Office of International Relations set about to create masks to be sent to its partner countries, as well as the two athletic organizations it was slated to work with during the Olympic season. The masks feature the poem’s title and first line, Strong in the Rain, in both Japanese and English, along with a backdrop of cosmic imagery, a theme often found in Miyazawa’s works. Hanamaki sent the masks to its sister cities in the United States and Austria, as well as to USA Track & Field, and the Austrian Judo Federation.

In one of those sister cities–Hot Springs, AR–the masks were distributed to students originally scheduled to visit Hanamaki in June of 2020, as well as those enrolled in local high school Japanese language classes, and other people with ties to the sister city program.

The initiative was also featured on the Sister Cities International (headquartered in Washington, D.C.) website: https://sistercities.org/2020/12/17/hot-springs-az-hanamaki-japan-sister-city-sends-gift-of-support-and-encouragement/

Host Town Exhibit

Hanamaki also hosted an exhibit from Sept 12 – Oct 11, 2020, featuring information on its Strong in the Rain Mask Initiative, its past and present international exchange,and its registration as an Arigato Host Town.
Cards featuring the Strong in the Rain poem in both Japanese and English were made available at the exhibit venue, for visitors to write their own messages of support and encouragement to be sent to the city’s partner countries.
The cards were later sent to Hanamaki’s sister cities, as well as the aforementioned athletic organizations, in December.

Strong in the Rain Video Productions

With the postponement of the 2020 Olympics due to the spread of COVID-19, Hanamaki also set out to produce videos featuring messages of encouragement aimed at affected athletes and others facing hardship throughout its partner countries. The videos featured Hanamaki locals of all ages reciting lines from Strong in the Rain, along with words of support on behalf of the city.
The videos can be found on the Host Town Information Website:

Office of International Relations, Continuing Education Department, Hanamaki City
TEL: 0198-41-3589 (413)
Email: kokusai@city.hanamaki.iwate.jp
(Inquiries accepted in Japanese and English)


Office of International Affairs, Department of Homeland Promotion, Iwate Prefectural Office
TEL: 019-629-5764
Email: AB0011@pref.iwate.jp
(Inquiries accepted in Japanese and English)


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