Monday, March 18, 2013

SWTJ 17th Activity Week


SWTJ Requiem Music Caravan
March 8-14, 2013

In memory of the victims
 of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011

At Kitakami-En Home for the Elderly in Miyagi Prefecture, a resident keeps up with the rhythm of the SWTJ performance
(Photo K.Kawatani)

(We thank Mr. Kawatani for allowing us to publish some of his photos in this blog!)

The 17th SWTJ Activity Week team has just come back from a week packed with events and encounters in Tohoku!

The Fanfare Roma'n-Garde and Niju Maru in action! (Photo K.Kawatani)

Two years after the earthquake and tsunami, the emotional wounds of having lost so much have not healed. However, a certain silence has set in: a tiredness of asking for help.

At a loss of ideas how to help, many volunteers have stopped going to Tohoku.

At the time of this 2nd Anniversary, SWTJ makes a new commitment to keep its promise of long-term support. 

Evacuee children love meeting our musicians (Photo K.Kawatani)

Although reconstruction is painfully slow, we are convinced that eventually, the resourceful spirit of Tohoku's warmhearted people and the rich potential of the region's cultural heritage and nature will win over the hardships of the present. 

Today, as motivation among victims threatens to weaken, we continue to strengthen our cooperation with local Tohoku leaders and to co-organize cultural projects that help old and young survivors to make their dreams known, to connect with people in Japan and abroad, and to find the strength to move forward.
Niju Maru performs with SWTJ for residents at Isaribi temporary housing site in  Isaribi Park, Kesennuma
The SWTJ 17th Activity Week included events at temporary container housing sites where evacuees reside, a performance at a home for the elderly in Tome City, a requiem parade in destroyed former city landscapes, and, on March 11, a requiem concert high-up on Mount Anba in memory of the victims. Moreover, SWTJ information events were conducted in Ishinomaki (Miyagi), Kanazawa (Ichikawa), and Ueda (Nagano). 
Kesennuma seen from Mount Anba (March 11, 2013)
Shishimai performance on Mout Anba by Niju Maru

Requiem Memorial Event on Mount Anba, above Kesennuma

Events conducted at temporary housing

In the picture below, SWTJ musicians play at the Fukushi no Sato Shuhen C temporary housing site in Shishiori, Kesennuma, where evacuees from the Karakuwa Peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture reside. Minestrone soup was served to all during the concert. 
Big thanks to Mr. Yoshida of Isaribi Park for introducing us!

Event for Karakuwa Peninsula evacuees at Fukushi no Sato Shuhen C Okyu Temporary Housing Site in Shishiori, Kesennuma

We would like to thank Mr. Kiyokazu Kawatani, a photographer who moved his residence to Tome in the disaster area after having worked as a disaster relief volunteer, for introducing us to the Tokura Chugakko temporary housing site in Minamisanriku, and  to the home for the elderly Kitakami-En in Tome, both in Miyagi Prefecture, where we were enthusiastically welcomed. Thanks to these contacts, we have been able to again widen our network in the disaster area. Don't miss reading the special information on the amazing people of the Tokura housing site below!

The Niju Maru performers (left) with evacuee Mr. Sato from NPO Mirai Minamisanriku (right) at Tokura Chugakko Temporary Housing in Minamisanriku (Photo K.Kawatani) 

The Tokura Chugakko temporary housing site in Minamisanriku was the first site where residents took the initiative to make good use of the community site through establishing the NPO Mirai Minamisanriku. The NPO, led by Mr. Sato, has established a blog, helps sell seaweed products by local makers who have made a new beginning, and has published a book on disaster victims' experiences that sells well. Moreover, they offer a place to stay over for volunteers for a fee, which also produces some income for the Tokura residents. 
Cheers to the initiative and motivation of the Tokura residents! Check for yourself how you can contribute in your own way to this unique undertaking!

(link is in Japanese only)
Niju Maru performs at Tokura Chugakko Temporary Housing  (Photo K.Kawatani) 

Finally a BIG THANK YOU to the wonderful members of the Fanfare Roma’n-Garde, an ensemble of Japanese musicians led by Seto Nobuyuki, and the amazing team Niju Maru, a couple specialized in traditional performing arts of the Edo Period (Edo tai-kagura), for having agreed to take part in the  SWTJ Earthquake and Tsunami Anniversary Week as volunteers who donate their time and skills. 
Evacuee residents at Tokura Chugakko Temporary Housing (Minamisanriku) share a genuine moment of joy while watching the performance (Photo K.Kawatani)

You have brought much joy and many smiles to the faces of the victims!!! 
On the way to the disaster area and on the way back, the 17th Activity Week team stopped over in Kanazawa, Ishinomaki, and Ueda. In these cities, the team organized live music events combined with SWTJ exhibitions, which allowed us to meet many people eager to hear about our work in Tohoku and willing to support us in our ongoing projects. 
SWTJ Exhibition and sale of SWTJ goods in Kanazawa

Back in Kyoto on March 15, SWTJ Representative Yasuo Yoshikawa reported on SWTJ's 17th Activity Week in the disaster area.

SWTJ would like to thank the many generous sponsors who made the 2nd Anniversary Activity Week possible, the professional musicians and performers who donated their skills, and the wonderful people in Tohoku who helped us organize on-site, especially Mr. Yoshida from Isaribi Park in Kesennuma who helped prepare our Shishiori and Isaribi events in Kesennuma, and Mr. Kawatani and Mr. Sato who coordinated our events in Tome and Minamisanriku.

We will be back in the disaster area in early May. 
Watch out for our next blog!