Saturday, September 13, 2014



AUGUST 14-17

Thanks to the great support from our sponsors from Japan and abroad, and thanks to more than ten enthusiastic youth leaders who joined the camp to volunteer their skills, SWTJ was again able to organize a summer camp for kids who come from the disaster region or who have a strong interest in meeting kids from that area. In 2014, three years after the disaster, there are still more than 200'000  displaced people from the disaster area who live in cramped quarters in temporary housing. 
The kids who joined our camp, some of them away from their family for the first time, learnt lots of things and made lots of friends- but most of all, had a blast! While last year it was extremely hot during the camp, this year there was rain...but this didn't discourage anybody in the SWTJ team or among the kids. Happy times and laughter were shared by all!

DAY 1:8/14

In the morning of August 14, we all gathered at Kesennuma Station in Miyagi Prefecture. Some of the kids joined the camp for the first time, while others had taken part already once or twice which made for happy reunions. From Kesennuma we took the train and car to arrive at our camp lodge in Senmaya, Iwate Prefecture, after about an hour. Our camp home used to be an elementary school in its former life!

Senmaya Minami Koryu Center

Some ice-breaking games to get to know each other!

This night, the community of Senmaya celebrated its local summer festival. The camp leaders had well in advance coordinated things together with the Senmaya community, so that the kids in the camp could not only participate in but also contribute to the festival. Our kids had their own street stands selling sugar candy, caramelized fruit and other specialties. Everybody had a great time decorating the stands, making the food, and socializing with the local community.

Kids preparing caramelized sweet potato and fruit

Making takoyaki dumplings and fruit candy- this time the kids were the makers, not the buyers!

Finally, it got dark, and the best time of the festival started! Each child got some SWTJ-made 'festival bills' to buy some of their favorite foods at the stands, and then the Bon-Odori dancing began! The locals were great teachers of the dance and everybody joined in. 

Left: Learning to dance the local Bon-Odori dance. Right: Original bills made by SWTJ for the festival.
We love summer festivals!!
Two special shows were the highlight of the festival: A concert sponsored and performed by the musicians of Fanfare Roman Guilde, and a show of Edo-period artistic skills sponsored and performed by the fantastic Takeshi of the group 'Nijumaru.

DAY 2:8/15

In the morning, we do some stretching!

To make the stretching more fun, SWTJ staff chose a radio music tape in which you could hear each stretching coach teach the movements in a different dialect of Japan!

Today, we made traditional water pistols using bamboo, and played with them outside. Most of all the staff got all wet!

Making water pistols

I'll get you wet!!

Tonight we prepared dinner with the cooperation of all! Tacos with lots of sauces, and for dessert a water melon fruit salad!

At night, finally the long-expected 'who is afraid of the ghosts' event. Ghosts and other scary creatures appeared in all corners of the old school. The kids were super brave!

DAY 3:8/16

Today, riverside play had been on the program- but since it was raining hard, we changed plans, and went to the nearby 'Gold Mountain' Camp Site. 

In the morning, we all made hand-made o-nigiri rice balls, and wrapped them in bamboo skin for our picnic- the old way!
A local lady then came and produced a short picture-book performance about the local 'Gold Mountain.'
The 'Gold Mountain'  is actually a place where you can still find gold if you are lucky!!! We climbed the mountain, and then found shelter under a roof  when it started to rain- which did not distract us of our main occupation: play!

At night, we organized a BBQ party and prepared for the big finale: fireworks!

Everybody loved the chocolate baked bananas for dessert.
Is this really already our last night?

DAY 4:8/17

Yes, it's our last day, but there are plenty of things to do today!!
Making photo stands with the help of balloons and plaster

Everybody makes their own creation using a balloon and covering it with plaster and then quickly shaping it before it dries. Lots of fun was had by all! 
Next our very own show!!! A show by all  those of us who practiced Takeshi's Japanese umbrella skills!

The four days of our camp had gone by in no time. In the evening, we traveled back to Kesennuma Station, where family members and friends were already waiting for the kids. Í'll come again next year!', Í don't want to go home yet!', could be heard here and there, while some expressions also showed delight to be with family again. Even after just 4 days, saying bye was hard! We had become such good friends!

SWTJ would like to say big thanks to all who sponsored the 2014 Summer Camp with financial means or material goods!
Without YOU we would not have been able to organize yet another event that empowers children of the disaster area, creates great memories for them, and helps them to make a whole network of new friends!

SWTJ would also like to thank the musicians, performers, and youth leaders who donated so much of their time and skills to make this year's camp another unforgettable experience for all. 
You have been great!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Exhibition, Voice from Tohoku in Kyoto

June 13-29,  2014

Kyoto Fundraising Campaign 
for the SWTJ Tohoku Kids’ Camp in August 2014!

SWTJ is staging a 2-week long series of events in Kyoto to keep giving a voice to Tohoku evacuees, and to raise the funds for the 2014 SWTJ Tohoku Kids’ Camp in August!

***view this video clip of last year’s kids' camp here:***

Come and take part in one or several of these events to hear how Tohoku is doing today, to mingle with SWTJ members (and, on June 21, with evacuees from Tohoku), and to simply enjoy!


June 13-29: Exhibition ‘Voice from Tohoku’

at Galerie Apotheke 11am-7pm (closed on Mondays)
Come see photos of last year's kids' camp, and read our collection of newsletters from Tohoku!
Place: on Marutamachi-dori, ca.100m west of Senbondori, on the south side of the road (right after a beauty salon). 10 minutes on foot from JR or Subway Nijo Station in Kyoto. Tel. 050 7515 8588


June 20 (Friday): Live Music Event at ‘Jittoku,’ Kyoto’s oldest Live House!
Don't miss this event! Meet the musicians of Fanfare Roma’n Garde and Kawa-chan, who have empowered the evacuees of Tohoku with their fantastic music already so many times!

5:30pm: Open
7pm: Start
Tickets: Reserve your ticket at
(write to Ms. Ohta)

Tickets reserved in advance: 2,500 Yen (reserve before 9pm on Thursday June 19)
Tickets at the door: 2,800 Yen
(Drinks are not included in the price)
Place: Coffee House Jittoku
Tel. 075 841 1691
Website and map:

Come to Kyoto’s oldest live house "Coffee House Jittoku" and meet the band Fanfare Roma’n Garde whose fantastic musicians (clarinet (Seto), tenor sax (Nobori), violin (Igaki), electric guitar (Tajima), euphonium/tuba (Terukina), drums (Watanbe) have been to Tohoku with SWTJ innumerable times and will entertain us tonight!!! 
And meet the unique and wonderful Kawamura from Hiroshima (guitar, voice, ukulele)!
We are waiting for you!


Don't miss this talk event on June 21:
Meet representatives of the evacuees in Tohoku:

June 21 (Saturday):
SWTJ TALK “Listening to the voice of Tohoku today”

Open: from 1:30pm
Entrance Fee: 500 Yen (includes tea and sweets)
Nobuyuki Seto, leader of the SWTJ music team, explains SWTJ activites and informs about the SWTJ August Kids’ Camp
2:40pm-3:10pm: Eiko Ohta, herself an evacuee from Tohoku, talks about her experiences since the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011
3:10pm-3:40pm: Nishiyama Yuko, leader of the group “Mina no Te,” an association of evacuees from Fukushima, talks about experiences of evacuees from Fukushima who have resettled in Kyoto.
3:40pm-4:20pm: “Ochakko”-Time (time for socializing and questions over a cup of tea).
Place: Kyoto Holy Trinity Church of the Anglican-Episcopal Church of Japan
(important cultural property of the city of Kyoto).

How to go: From the crossroad Marutamachi dori/Senbondori in Kyoto go south on the western side of Senbondori, enter the first road at your right, find the church after crossing one street, at your left; 10 minutes on foot from JR/Subway Nijo Station.


Big fun for kids in Kyoto!

June 28 (Saturday)
Free SWTJ Tambourine Workshop for Kids!

Open from: 1:30pm
Start: 2pm
Bring your kids and let them enjoy this amazing free workshop by tambourine artist and musician Tajima ! There will also be a SWTJ flea market, and cotton candy will be on sale!
Place: Kyoto Holy Trinity Church of the Anglican-Episcopal Church of Japan
(important cultural property of the city of Kyoto).
How to go: From the crossroad Marutamachi dori/Senbondori in Kyoto go south on the western side of Senbondori, enter the first road at your right, find the church after crossing one street, at your left; 10 minutes on foot from JR/Subway Nijo Station.

SWTJ would like to thank Galerie Apotheke and the Holy Trinity Church of the Anglican-Episcopal Church of Japan for kindly offering their venues for our activities!

BIG THANKS also to the wonderful musicians who support this month’s activities, to the evacuees from Tohoku who kindly agreed to talk to us, and to the many volunteers who donate their time and energy to make these events a success!


SWTJ is an independent volunteer organization that is not affiliated with any political, governmental, or religious group.

We Won't Forget- We Will Continue!

View more about our activities here:


Monday, January 13, 2014


SWTJ Charity Concert

When: Jan 19 (Sun) 6pm (doors open from 5pm)
Where: Kyoto Gojo Kaikan
Why: Let's raise funds for the SWTJ March 2014 Earthquake Memorial Week and bring music to the evacuees during the memorial days!
Who: Amazing musicians who donate their music, and an amazing audience that will share the evening with you!

Join us for a fantastic evening from 6pm (open from 5pm) for a concert in the colorful Taisho era vintage hall KYOTO GOJO KAIKAN!!
With the awesome Kunigi Takehiro (violin) and Fukue Genta (guitar) presenting Irish music! 
and the powerful "Sachertorte"  with Tomaru (accordeon), Uekko (guitar) and Yosuke (cello)!

Advance tickets: 2,000 Yen
Tickets at the door: 2,500 Yen
(to reserve an advance ticket, send an e-mail to: (in English), 
or to (in Japanese)
How to go:
About a 10 min. walk to the west on Gojo dori, (then turn left as in the map) from Keihan Kiyomizu Gojo Station.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oct 12/13 SWTJ Exposition and Event in Higashi-Hiroshima

SWTJ takes part in the
Higashi-Hiroshima Sake-Matsuri Event!
October 12/13 2013

SWTJ's Hiroshima Branch has taken the lead this time to invite our branch leaders from Tohoku, Rikuzentakata, to take part in the yearly SWTJ Higashi-Hiroshima autumn event. 
Thank you, Hiroshima team!!

A photo exhibition was held, and the SWTJ newsletter "Obi" was distributed to a large number of the many visitors who each year visit the famous eastern Hiroshima rice wine festival. 

Branch leader Mr. Kanazawa and family, and fisherman Murakami and his wife from Rikuzentakata all came to support us and to bring us the newest information on the state of reconstruction in Tohoku, which still struggles to bring some kind of normalcy to the life of the many people who lost kin, house, job and their livelyhood during the tsunami of March 2011. 

Fisherman and SWTJ member Murakami, who every day sails out to high sea off the Iwate prefecture coast to catch mainly octopus, brought some of the finest of his catch to sell for the benefit of SWTJ activities, and to let Hiroshima's people try some of Tohoku's very best produce!

SWTJ had two locations in the festival where SWTJ goods were sold, and where information was handed out to passers-by.

Mr. Kanazawa and his daughter Mie, and Mr. and Mrs. Murakami have always been wonderful in letting SWTJ in Kansai know about the latest needs of their people. Having themselves barely escaped the tsunami and lost their homes, and having been leaders in kasetsu temporary housing units, they keep in touch with many of those most in need. 

"The most difficult time is still to come," says Murakami, "all those who have some kinds of means or who are strong have moved away from temporary housing. Gradually, the local government needs to clean up the temporary housing sites (which sometimes sit on school playgrounds or the like), and some of those who still live there are told again and again to move to a different location because some sites are now cleaned up to make space for the original purpose of the place. Many of those who still live in makeshift housing have no hope for the future, and are isolated, not able to make new friends again and again. There is a need to make something happen for these people, to organize things they can look forward too. Kids have moved from school to school, and still have a hard time to concentrate. Teachers are doing their best to try to bring some rhythm into their unsettled lives. There is a great need to organize events for people in makeshift housing- especially in the small makeshift units, where hardly anyone comes anymore, and to support the children. And we may not forget the people of Fukushima. With the additional load of the nuclear catastrophe, they need our utmost support. "

Thank you, Rikuzentakata leaders, for coming all the way, and for your wonderful participation and good advice!

"We won't forget, we will continue!" 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

SWTJ 19th Activity Week August 2013


Thanks to our many supporters and with the help of a great team of SWTJ members and young volunteer camp leader assistants, we were able to again organize a fun summer camp for Tohoku disaster area kids! 
We contacted schools, community centers, and our branches in Tohoku to announce our second summer camp to the local population. Many kids who had participated in the camp last year were eager to join again! And many new kids overcame the fear to leave home for 3 days for the first time alone, and joined us for the great adventure!
The location was just perfect: Minami Koryu Center in Senmaya (Iwate Prefecture) is a spacious house with futon bedding, a big kitchen, and a great sports ground nearby! 

All the meals were prepared together with the kids!  Cooking together was an important part of the camp and enjoyed by all!

Curry for tonight!

At night, the SWTJ volunteer team would meet to prepare the following day...

Staff meeting in preparation for the next day
Off to the river! A good time was had by all!


Everybody just loved the nagashi-somen event where noodles have to be skillfully picked up from a split bamboo stem.

The watermelon game

The 'Tree of Hope' built by the children from cardboard is lighted to send our wishes and hopes to the heavens, as is custom in Japan

About 40 villagers joined us on the last night of the camp for entertainment, Bon-Odori Dance, fireworks, and a good time together with kids, musicians, and SWTJ leaders and members! 

The Slide Walk Salon Orchestra performs a volunteer Live Performance for the camp kids and the villagers of Senmaya during the last night of the camp!

...a time to find new friends
...a time to laugh out loud
...a time to be just yourself
...a time to be devastated because of a defeat in a game
...a time to rediscover the joy of water
...a time to connect with camp leaders
               ...and so much more! 

These kids have come so far since the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Many of them still live in temporary container housing, and many of them have lost close relatives and friends. 

However, they have participated in our camp with much joy and energy, and have helped with all tasks, including cooking and cleaning, all throughout! And many many friendships have been built!
SWTJ is convinced again that work with children continues to be crucial in Tohoku!

We won't forget, we will continue!

See more pictures of the 2013 Summer Camp in the slide show below (click on bottom right corner for full sight).


SWTJ would like to thank all the wonderful villagers and volunteers who helped or participated in the camp, and all those who made the camp possible through their generous financial, material and spiritual contribution!

SWTJ 18th Activity Week May 2013


The May Activity Week stood under the sign of deepening our contacts in Tohoku in order to respond to the new needs in each of the communities we work with. 

Kesennuma Karakuwa Isaribi Park: SWTJ co-organizes Aozora Community and Flea Market Event May 3 and 4 

3 SWTJ members spent a very intense week talking to the leaders of our branches in Tohoku, contributing with food stalls, a flea market, kids' events, and a music live performance in local community events for displaced people, discussing opportunities to launch a music project for evacuee children, and checking out a camp house that SWTJ will use during its summer camp for evacuee children that will take place in August 2013. 

On May 3 and 4, at Isaribi Park in Karakuwa, Kesennuma, we connected with our local contact Yoshida who is active in organizing community-building events for the displaced people in the area. SWTJ's food stalls with the possibility for kids to make their own cotton candy were very popular, and the flea market was well visited.

In Rikuzentakata, we connected with SWTJ branch leader Kanazawa (left), whose knowledge of new developments in the disaster area is indispensable to the direction of our organization. Thanks to Mr. Kanazawa's introduction we were able to support activities at the community event at Dencho-kan in the hills of Rikuzentakata, where over 1,000 people, many of them evacuees from the nearly entirely swept away former city of Rikuzentakata, gathered for 'Childrens' Day' on May 5.    

May 5 (Childrens' Day) Hakodateyama-Festival in Rikuzentakata: SWTJ games for displaced kids

A visit to Tsukidate Community Space in Yasse, Kesennuma, 

a space built by SWTJ in 2012 to support exchange and 

community-building between displaced people in container

housing and local villagers:

Visit at our branch in Yasse, Kesennuma (Photo: Community Space built by SWTJ in 2012)
Emotional re-encounter between Yasse temporary container housing resident S. and SWTJ members.

Shishiori Station in Kesennuma, May 2013: The scenery looks peaceful, but the boat in the back ran over dozens of homes during the tsunami, and the train station was swept away. Not much change here yet.

Finally, we visited School Director Yamamoto of Kujo Primary 

School in Kesennuma. Mr. Yamamoto has advised SWTJ 

many times regarding the post-tsunami needs of children. 

Many children at his school have been moved here from 

Minami Kesennuma Primary School, where they had 

been hard hit by the tsunami: after the earthquake they were 

evacuated to the roof of the school where they spent 

the night in the dark and cold, and where they 

witnessed how their homes were swept away, and how fires 

started in their hometown.

Left: SWTJ Director Y.Yoshikawa. Right: School Director Yamamoto of Kujo Primary School in Kesennuma

Mr. Yamamoto says: "I would like to use the help of Art so 

that these kids can express themselves and find strength

again. Mr. Yoshikawa, I hope to work together with you."

SWTJ will strive to continue working with children who are still 

traumatized by the tsunami and the related disasters.

On May 5 we visit 'Minami Koryu Center' in Senmaya, a

community house in a village close to the border between 

Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, to check if

the location would be suitable for our summer camp for kids

from the disaster area. The people at the center are very 

friendly, and the infrastructure at the center seems perfect for

our camp!

Check our next blog for news on the 2013 SWTJ summer camp for Tohoku disaster area kids!