Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 SWTJ Summer Camp

August 2015: 4th SWTJ Summer Camp for Tohoku Kids in Senmaya

Thanks to the generous support of SWTJ supporters from home and abroad, this year again, the SWTJ summer camp for Tohoku kids could take place and was a great success! 
Ten volunteer youth leaders from all over the country came together to spend some exciting days in the comfortable Senmaya community center with elementary and junior high school-age kids from the Tohoku region. Some of the kids had already taken part last year, while others joined for the first time. Everybody had a great time, and even the rain couldn’t dampen our good mood.  

SWTJ youth leaders in their last meeting before the camp
In the photo above, some of the youth leaders make preparations for the camp on the day before the arrival of the children.

August 12:
This year again, we were able to rent the comfortable Senmaya Community Center (Senmaya Minami Koryu Center), a former elementary school in a village not far from Ichinoseki in Iwate Prefecture, right next to the border with Miyagi Prefecture.

Starting point: Kesennuma Station

Day 1: August 13:
Everybody gathered at Kesennuma Station, and soon it was time to say goodbye to the parents, and to get on the train with the cool volunteer camp leaders! Some of the children had participated last year alreadz, and were excited to reunite, while some others took part for the first time, and, while a little apprehensive, were full of anticipation.

Learning to play cup and ball.

Once we arrived in Senmaya, we made teams. There was a ‘play cup and ball’ workshop, and a handbell workshop, and the kids quickly became really good at their new craft! We aimed at organizing a handbell and a cup and ball performance at the end of the camp, and at obtaining the cup and ball player certificate of the Japan Cup and Ball Association! 

Each child paints his own cup and ball tool!

Curry rice, salad and fried chicken enjoyed by all! Everybody helped prepare the delicious dinner!

At night...the much anticipated ghost walk! After all, we stayed overnight in an abandoned former elementary school...

Even after seeing some scary things, the kids went ahead courageously. Some kids did start to cry...
All the volunteer leaders changed into ghosts and other scary beings. The kids sure screamed! And later beamed in excitement. A night of success.

Day 1: August 14:

Today, river play was on the schedule, but unfortunately, it was raining. So instead, we stayed inside and made colorful bags with the help of rubber eraser stamps. Look at these nice outcomes!

We made a map with the kids so that they could see from where in Japan all the goodies and camp supplies came from, and where the sponsors lived. Thank you to all the sponsors from all over Japan! 

Finally the rain stopped for some time and we could have a delicious BBQ outside! And we even had time in the afternoon to play outdoors. Yeah!

The blindfolded kid has to try to hit the water melon so that we can all enjoy it. Go go!!
Really looks like he's going to hit it in the right place!
At night we all participated in the local Bon-Festival Summer event of Senmaya village, a great opportunity to socialize with the local people. Many stalls were established in the school courtyard, and everybody enjoyed the music, the traditional dance, and the delicous food from the stalls. SWTJ's cotton candy machine worked full time too!

Some of our kids became really good at making cotton candy themselves!
Our last camp evening of course ended with the much loved fireworks.

Day 1: August 15:

On our last day, the sun finally came through!! Off we were to the river!

Big smiles!

A local resident lent us this marvelous raft- so much fun!

Back home there was only little time left- but we had some important projects to complete, most of all, show off what we had learned in the workshops!
The handbell performance.
Getting the cup and ball certificate from the licensed teacher!

There was one more ritual to be accomplished...every year we would mark the kids’height on a big poster. Some had grown over 10cm in just one year, and others had surpassed the camp leaders!
Soon, we had to say good bye... everyone was a bit sad...
But hopefully, we can meet again next year!

SWTJ would like to say big thanks to everybody who made this camp possible- to our generous sponsors, to the people who sent food or camp utensils, to our great camp leaders who donated their time and skills, to the wonderful people of Senmaya village who already welcomed us for the third time this year, and to the families who entrusted their children to us and allowed us to build strong bonds with these future leaders of northern Japan whose residents are so courageously rebuilding their lives after the tremendous tsunami damage of the year 2011.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

February 10/11, 2015: LOVE&HOPE FOR TOHOKU (7th Event)

This year again, SWTJ is organizing a 2-day charity concert/ family event in Kyoto!

Feb 10 (Tue) and 11 (Wed) 2015 
All profits of the event will be used to send musicians to Tohoku to play for evacuees in temporary housing or in homes for the elderly during the 4th Anniversary period of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11 2011.
Come join us on Feb 10/11 ! 
Have fun, meet some great people, and help us send musicians to Tohoku for the Anniversary in March! 

Kawaramachi Sanjo Hitosuji Sagaru
Daikoku-cho Kitagawa VOX Bldg. 1F

From Keihan Sanjo Station in Kyoto: Cross the bridge, turn left to the south immediately, walk along the road that looks down to the river for a few meters, then turn right into Daikoku cho. The VOX Building is a few meters ahead of you, after crossing Kiyamachi-dori, on your right.
From Kawaramachi/Sanjo: walk to Sanjo Bridge, turn right and walk south along the river up to the first turn, turn right into Daikoku cho, the VOX Building is a few meters ahead of you, after crossing Kiyamachi-dori, on your right.

PROGRAM Tuesday Feb 10: 
FIDDLE AND GUITAR CONCERT by the fantastic Tabula Rasa (Takehiro Kunigi, fiddle; Fukue Genta, guitar):
TICKETS: 3,000Yen at the door (2,800 Yen for tickets reserved in advance). Reserve your ticket by sending an email with your full name and the number of tickets you wish to reserve to:

Also enjoy:  Drinks and snacks for sale at BAR-CAFE TOHOKU/FOTO EXHIBITON of SWTJ activities.
BONUS: Your concert ticket entitles you to free entry on Wednesday Feb 11 for a daytime fun event with live music of some amazing and well-known Kansai musicians! 

PROGRAM Wednesday Feb 11: 12:00 - 21:00 
Solidarity Ticket: 1,000 Yen (buy ticket at the door): 
9 hours of SWTJ photo exhibition, live music and workshops for people of all ages. Great fun for families!
Kids elementary school and younger: entrance free.
Live music, games, workshops!
(a fee for materials will be requested for some workshops). 
13:00 Sidewalk Salon Orchestra
15:00 Yoshiko Stonpea
17:00 Goto Yuzo and Mori Sense
18:30 Beetorusu
20:00 Fanfare Roma'n Guilde 
WORKSHOPS: Free fun Tambourine Workshop with amazing artist Tajima/ Yamaguri Puppet Making (small fee for materials)/Naruto Kokeshi wooden puppet painting (small fee for materials)/Wooden Broach Painting (small fee for materials)/ 
St. Valentine Chocolate Cookie Decorating and Wrapping (small fee for materials)/ Bag Decorating with Potato Stamps (small fee for materials). 
Snacks and drinks will be sold at the event. Look out for our   takoyaki dumplings and cotton candy!

SWJT Musicians play for evacuees in Tohoku (Photo from Anniversary Activity in 2013)

Be part of our commitment for Tohoku:
We Won't Forget- We Will Continue!
All profits of this event will be used for SWTJ activities for evacuees during the 4th Earthquake and Tsunami Anniversary in Tohoku! 
Watch out for our report after the Anniversary in mid-March. 

Below: text and pamphlet in Japanese for your Japanese friends:


ご家族とお友達と。来月震災から4年を迎える東北への想いを馳せて過ごす時間に、ぜひお越しください。SWTJはこれからも、ー わすれないとは、続けること。ー をモットーに活動を続けていきます。

開催日:2015. 2. 10(火)、 11(水/祝)
京都市中京区河原町三条下る一筋目東入る大黒町44 VOXビル1F

− DAY1| 2/10− 

Tabula Rasa (功刀丈弘+福江元太)LIVE 
feat. SWTJ CAFE 「東北のおいしい時間」

時 間:CAFE OPEN 18:00 / LIVE START 19:00
入場料:前売り ¥2,800 (小学生以下無料)当日券:¥3,000
特 典:このイベントにご参加頂いた方には、翌日のお祭りイベント入場を無料とさせていただきます。

関西の誇るアイリッシュフィドル奏者、功刀丈弘率いる Tabula Rasa のライブと、SWTJがお届けする「東北のおいしい時間」。普段お目にかかれない、東北の食や飲み物などを素敵な音楽と一緒にお楽しみいただく予定です。

− DAY2 | 2/11− 


時 間:OPEN 12:00 / CLOSE 21:00


●13:00 〜 Sidewalk Salon Orchestra:瀬戸信行(クラリネット)+ 山田やーそ裕(六弦ギター)+ 池田安友子(パーカッション)
●15:00 〜 よしこストンペア
●17:00 〜 ゴトウゆうぞう+森扇背
●18:30 〜 ベートルズ
●20:00 〜 ファンファーレ・ロマンギャルド
瀬戸信行(クラリネット)+ 登敬三(サックス)+ 山田やーそ裕(六弦ギター)+田島隆(ギター)+ 池田安友子(パーカッション)



● ie-ie ブローチ作りワークショップ

さまざまな可愛いトッピングを載っけて、すてきなラッピングで包みます。お気に入りが出来たら、だれかにプレゼントしてみよう!もちろん、自分のプレゼントでもOK。 (有料)

●芋版deプリント トートバッグ作りワークショップ

●バッキュン★パタリン 東北妖怪的当て!


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: