In a bid to lighten the grim mood, Japanese nationals who have lived on Saipan for decades came together with their families to make and give away 4,000 pieces of castella balls, popularly known in Japan as baby castella, in the soccer pitch parking lot in Koblerville last Saturday.
Around 200 cars lined up and 100 walked in to get their baby castella, which taste and has ingredients like pancake. In total, 700 people were served.
This sharing was a private effort on the group’s part as many of them have lived on Saipan for a decade or more.
Yoshihiro Igawa, who has visited the CNMI many times in the past, came back to Saipan to participate in the Japanese Autumn Festival.
The festival, which was set last Oct. 27 at the Paseo de Marianas in Garapan, was canceled due to Super Typhoon Yutu. Igawa decided to stay to volunteer and support typhoon relief efforts, including the distribution of baby castella.
Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Christopher Concepcion is thankful to Igawa.
“This was very kind of him and shows the longtime partnership the CNMI has with Japan,” Concepcion said.
Concepcion said MVA also extends its gratitude to the Japanese expatriate community for Saturday’s “fun and generous gift to the people of the CNMI.”
“They brought laughter and delicious treats to our people in this time of need,” he said.
These Japanese citizens, Concepcion said, have lived in the CNMI for over 10, 20, or 30 years and they call the islands home.
“They’ve built businesses and had families here. They did this out of their own pockets—all for our people. They extend their support to the people of the CNMI at this time,” he said.
Concepcion urged people to thank “these fine individuals when they see them at their businesses or on the streets.”
“Together we will get through this,” he added.
Saipan Tribune learned that those who provided support at the baby castella sharing were Keiji Takeda of Marianas Trekking, Maiko Takahashi and Suguro Takahashi of Make Sure Saipan Dive Shop, Naoki Oura and Ayumi Oura of The Old B Bank, repeat visitor Yoshihiro Igawa, Shunsuke Katagiri and Mayumi Suzuki of Okadaya, Mariko Iwami of Zen Corp. Marine Sports Company, and Kana Wakasugi and Tadaaki Wakasugi of Aqua Gate Saipan Dive Shop.