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.