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Residents of quake-hit Hokkaido town to send snowmen to Brazil in gift of gratitude

A child that helped make snowmen in the town of Abira, Hokkaido, on Feb. 24, 2019, expresses local residents' gratitude for support from Brazil following last year's earthquake. (Mainichi/Hidehiro Fukushima)

ABIRA, Hokkaido -- Local residents of this town made snowmen on Feb. 24 to send to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to express their gratitude for donations and support following a strong earthquake that struck this northernmost prefecture in September last year.

The snowmen will be displayed at a ceremony in Sao Paulo in August to commemorate the 100-year anniversary since people in Hokkaido started immigrating to Brazil.

In 2008, residents of Abira presented a snowman about 2 meters high to the Sao Paulo city government to display at a ceremony to commemorate the 100th year of Japanese immigration to Brazil.

After hearing that Abira was hit by the earthquake last year, emigrants from Hokkaido collected donations in Brazil and sent about 1.8 million yen to the government of Abira through the Hokkaido Japan Brazil Association in December.

Children decorate snowmen in the town of Abira, Hokkaido, on Feb. 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Hidehiro Fukushima)

To show their gratitude for the donations, employees of the town and resident volunteers planned the project to once again send snowmen to Sao Paulo. A total of 100 people, mainly local children, participated in the Feb. 24 event to make 40 miniature snowmen about 40 centimeters high and a large one about 2 meters tall. The event was broadcast via the internet to Brazil. Participants packed snow into Styrofoam to create snowmen while saying "Obrigado," Portuguese for "thank you."

Event participant Wataru Koizumi, a third grader of the municipal Hayakita Elementary School, said, "I felt happy after being encouraged by people in Brazil. I hope they will enjoy seeing the snowmen." Abira Mayor Shuichiro Oikawa commented, "Snowmen are symbols of the town's reconstruction. I will attend the commemoration ceremony in Brazil to express our gratitude."

The snowmen will be transported in a refrigerated container from Tomakomai Port in Hokkaido in March and are scheduled to arrive in Brazil in May. They will be kept frozen in Sao Paulo until the ceremony in August.

(Japanese original by Hidehiro Fukushima, Tomakomai Local Bureau)

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