Charity Concert to Reunite Fukushima Kids

Our friend Jason Bartashius writes,

Music lovers are you staying in town for winter vacation?  If so, be sure to check out the A Summer Dream for Children charity concert on December 22nd at the Miyako Messe.  Featured artists include A-Frame, Twins, and pop singer Shiori Kinjo, who will perform her hit “Smile.”  Everyone knows a good concert is one with a grand debut.  Sota Kishimoto and Shohei Toyoda will do the honors – performing a song co-written with Fukushima children.  Minna no Te and Ipponokai, two groups that aid evacuees, are hosting the concert.

Proceeds will be used by Minna no Te to continue reuniting family and friends separated by the nuclear crisis.  This summer buses shuttled people between Kyoto and Fukushima.  Fukushima kids normally allowed only short intervals to play outside enjoyed a brief reprieve from the dangers of radiation here in Kansai.  In Kyoto they could play outdoors, sightsee, and spend time with classmates who have relocated here.  Evacuees in Kyoto also had the opportunity to return to Fukushima for a short stay to see family members left behind.

Soon the buses will be gearing up to again make the nearly 800 km trek to bring together family and friends for the New Year’s holiday.  With hopes for more reunions down the road, Minna no Te has started the Children’s Dream Fund.  Please fund the project with the purchase of a concert ticket.  Bring a friend and consider the night an early Xmas present to kids in need.

As a prelude to the concert, pictures from this summer’s reunion project will be displayed from 10:30 a.m – 2:30 p.m.  Evacuee children will celebrate the event by talking via a web camera with Fukushima friends who visited Kyoto this past summer.  Music will start at 3:00 and last until around 5:00 p.m.

The organizing of this concert is timely.  Parts of the evacuation zone are being reopened and evacuees are being encouraged to return home.  However, the sentiment that all is now safe and sound is not universally shared.  Greenpeace is bringing attention to misleading radiation monitoring posts set up by the government.  Residents and evacuees are also skeptical of decontamination efforts.  When it rains, radiation that has accumulated in the mountains is feared to wash back down into fields and communities.

Meanwhile refugees are struggling.  Some have to search for new employment.  For their part children have had to enter different schools and adapt to new environments.  Displacement is particularly hard for people originating in rural Fukushima where familial and communal ties are strong.  The upcoming concert and photo exhibit serve as reminders of these ongoing realities.  At the same time, music and photos of smiling children focus attention on the beauty and joy of life that exist even in dire times.  And that reminder gives us all something to strive for this holiday season.

A Summer Dream for Children: A Rainbow Connecting Kyoto and Fukushima

Venue: Miyako Messe (Daiichi Tenjijo)

Tickets: 1000 Yen in advance.  1,300 Yen on the door. Reservations can be made by calling 075-823-5001

(Hours: 10:00 a.m – 5:00  p.m/ Closed Sundays and National Holidays)

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Jason Bartashius moved to Kyoto in 2011. He is a lecturer of Japanese Religions and an English instructor. Jason also manages the volunteer project After School Lessons For Tohoku Children that helps kids affected by the tsunami. As a writer he works to bring attention to the ongoing issues surrounding the March 11th disasters. He has made contributions to Deep Kyoto that focus on Kyoto’s efforts to support Tohoku and evacuees who have relocated to Kyoto. You can read his previous articles here.

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