Tag Archives: Tohoku Relief

Charity Noh Performance for Tohoku Disaster Relief at Kyoto Kanze Kaikan 3/11

Next week Kyoto Kanze Kaikan is holding two charity Noh performances to raise funds for victims of the 2011 Tohoku Disaster. They will be held on the morning and evening of March 11th – the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.



If you aren’t familiar with Noh, it’s best to take a script with you. There is a lot of talking in Noh plays, they are speaking medieval Japanese, and the speech patterns are very stylized, so even for native Japanese they can be hard to understand. Mewby and I went to see a couple of Noh plays at the Kanze Kaikan last weekend, but we only had a script for one of the plays. Let me tell you it makes a big difference when watching Noh, if you have a script with you to follow along with. Fortunately, translations of the scripts for both of the plays next week are available on the excellent the能.com site, with both English and modern Japanese.

Date and Times: Tuesday March 11th

10:30-12:30: The main performance  is of the Noh play Tsunemasa. You can download a translated script here: 経正

18:30-20:30: The main performance is of the Noh play Shōjō Midare. You can download a translated script here: 猩々乱

Location: Kyoto Kanze Kaikan is on the south side of Niomon Street between Higashioji and Jingu-michi. It is a 10 minute walk north from from Higashiyama Subway Station. Here is a map.

IMG_7847 (Medium)Both performances cost 1,500. They can be booked in advance at this number: 075-771-6114075-771-6114 (Japanese). However, specific seats cannot be reserved.

More details of the performances can be seen here (Japanese): http://www.kyoto-kanze.jp/performanceguide/gien-noh.htm

Kizuna From Kyoto: Supporting the Victims of the Tohoku Disaster

Jason Bartashius writes,

Tonghwi Soh is no stranger to earthquakes.  The Great Hanshin Earthquake destroyed the jewelry store his father worked at.  It left him jobless and with no choice but to take another position for a lower salary.  Although Soh was only four years old, he vividly remembers the day and the struggles that followed.

Six years later Soh and his parents attended a symposium of Koreans who had been wronged by Japanese military aggression and lawyers fighting for redress.  Soh, a Korean, was so inspired by this fight for justice that he later enrolled at Kyoto University to study law.

In 2010 Soh took time off from his studies to go to New Zealand to improve his English.  He was sightseeing with friends in South Island when the Canterbury earthquake struck.  In the early morning they felt the quake; unscathed they walked out of their youth hostel astonished by the panic in the air.   Soh was to later revisit New Zealand to check on friends and see the recovery progress.

Soh was to make an even narrower escape when the March 11th quake hit.  On March 9, 2011 he was skiing with friends in Iwate Prefecture when a 7.2 magnitude quake struck triggering a small tsunami that never reached Japan’s shores.  In the nick of time, they left Tohoku before the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred two days later.  “I don’t believe in God. But if God exists He let me live,” said Soh.

His experiences with earthquakes led to his resolve to respond to the tragedies of March 11th.  He first volunteered in Miyagi Prefecture.  Surprisingly he was shown an outsized amount of gratitude by people in Tohoku, because of his Korean ethnicity.  Despite being born and raised in Japan, he was treated as part of the massive international volunteer effort that pleasantly surprised many suffering Japanese.  Inspired by his experiences he returned to Kyoto and formed a student volunteer group called Kizuna Thank You From Kyoto.  The group organized two symposiums for students to discuss the triple tragedies.  Showing appreciation to the international community was a central theme of the meetings.

Currently Kizuna has more than twenty members from Kyoto University, Ritsumeikan, Doshisha, and Kyoto University of Education.  They are all now actively assisting evacuees in Kyoto.  To reflect their shift from holding symposiums to directly aiding victims, the group recently changed their name to Kizuna From Kyoto.

Since July 2012 the Kizuna volunteers have been tutoring Tohoku children now living in Fushimi.  Elementary school students receive help with their homework while junior high and high school students get assistance in their preparation for exams.  Additionally, this past summer they helped Minna no Te, a support group for evacuees in Kyoto, collect donations for a project that reunited evacuees with family and friends.

Beyond Kyoto, Kizuna has also been lending a hand to support school children who remain in Tohoku. From June to August 2012 Kizuna gathered 2500 used books for the Hon Omoi Project, which collects and sells the books.  The proceeds are then used to buy new textbooks for affected Tohoku students.

Brimming with new ideas, Soh is about to launch another project called “Keep Telling!” a blog page where victims and volunteers can share their stories.  The intention is to raise awareness of the tragedies and ongoing relief effort.  Non- Kizuna members are welcome to submit accounts of their experiences in either Japanese or English. Kizuna volunteers will translate accounts written in English before posting.  Soh hopes to publish one story every few days.  At the time of writing he had already received forty submissions.

When asked of his future plans for Kizuna, Soh responded that he plans to keep giving aid as long as it is needed.

Tonghwi Soh can be contacted at kizuna.fromkyoto@gmail.com

Visit the Kizuna From Kyoto homepage: http://kizunafromkyoto.web.fc2.com/index.html

Follow Kizuna From Kyoto on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kizuna.fromkyoto


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.

TA Project Camp – The Wrap-Up

Here’s guest contributor, Sara Ai Coe, with an update on the TA Project’s summer camp for Fukushima children.

Last time I wrote about the TA Project for Deep Kyoto, I was the outsider looking in. I was so inspired by the passion of the guys involved, that I wanted to write and share this wonderful project. Shortly after, I was invited to join them and it’s been an invitation I’m so thankful I accepted. So now I will write this as an insider, as a member of the TA Project and share the experiences of the TA Camp 2012.

It’s now over a month since the camp and this write-up is well past its expiry date. A thousand apologies. We’re yet to close the lid on ‘TA camp 2012’. We’re still going through paper work, reports and of course the thousand thank-yous we owe people around the world.

We started this project with no charity experience. We all work full time jobs, so for all of us to come together and plan this camp was a little miracle. But we were driven by one common goal: to invite the kids from Fukushima for a four-day camp so they could play freely without any risk from radiation.

The four-day camp took place in the countryside of Osaka Prefecture at a place called Nose. Just about an hour out of Osaka city, the concrete jungle is replaced with green mountains and rivers. This place looked like something out of a Ghibli film. It was the perfect place for these 12 kids to run wild and reconnect with nature. It was also the perfect place to reconnect with nature for the TA team who usually spend their weekends in the concrete jungle getting ‘cemented’… what ever that means… that sounded better in my head.
We really underestimated the energy these kids have. Even the most energetic and hyperactive team member (a.k.a Takumi) was left with an empty fuel tank every day. They would get up before 6 am, eat breakfast, go swimming, go canoeing, go swimming, eat lunch, go swimming, go cut some bamboo trees, go swimming, eat dinner… You get the idea.

We also underestimated the amount of food these kids can eat. They can eat everything and anything. We had to get creative by catching some crabs and fish in the river and frying them as snacks (true story). Luckily on Day 3 we had our personal chef Muchi arrive with his amazing, fantastic and divine cooking skills (I can’t praise this guy enough). Muchi being an Italian chef, the kids were able to delve into some gourmet meals.

The biggest objective of the camp was for the children to play. Each day was planned with activities from day to night. Activities included canoeing, making lanterns, cutting up bamboo trees (how wild is that?) making chopsticks, fishing, but I think the children’s favorite activity was going swimming in the pool. They were pretty disappointed on the last day when they found out that they were not only NOT allowed to go into the pool but they had to actually CLEAN it.

‘Playing’ was the theme but we also wanted to make sure these kids cleaned after themselves and showed some manners. The boys in the group even learned a new phrase from Taji: ‘Ladies first’… It didn’t go down too well with the boys, but we’re hoping maybe it will be useful for them in the future.

We were so caught up with making sure these kids had a good time playing, that we regret not really having a proper talk to them about what happened in Fukushima. Because even though they are all smiles, we know that deep down they have been going through a hard time. Even with the brief conversations we had, some expressed that they hate going to sleep because they think about death, and also others expressed how terrified they were hiding under the desk when the earthquake hit. We’re thinking a little talk session is something we can incorporate for next time.

Another great thing about the camp was that we were able to experience the kindness and generosity of our friends and people whom we’ve never met. We really wish we could thank each and every one of you. Thank you to those who contributed to the Indiegogo campaign (a big thanks to Gerald and Voice Kobe for their very generous donation). Thank you to those who donated in our donation boxes. Thank you to those who spread word about our campaign on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other mediums. Thank you to those who contributed prizes to the Indiegogo campaign. Thank you to those who contributed food (meat, rice, cake, cookies). Thank you to those who came to our camp and lent us your time, skills and love. And thank you to those who continually supported us with words of encouragement. You guys kept us going and made the camp that much more amazing for everyone.

No doubt both the children and the TA members made some great memories from this camp. However we don’t want it to end with just memories. Now we’ve made a connection with these kids, from here we aim to build a relationship. And the key to a strong relationship is communication. We want to keep in touch with the children, hear about what’s going on in their lives and hear about their progress. We also plan to visit them in Fukushima in the next few months. We’ve been talking about going there and surprising them with a winter bbq. We also want to build a strong relationship with the people who continue to support us. We want to keep people updated with our progress, our plans and also present more opportunities for people to get involved.

Although we still haven’t 100% digested TA Camp 2012, we’ve started talking about a TA camp 2013. From what we learned from this one (and we learned like a zillion things) we want to create something bigger and better for 2013. We want to invite more children and we also want more people to be involved. We’re even thinking of a change in location. One child even requested we have a winter camp in Hokkaido next year… Great idea kid, but I think we’ll have to start fundraising like right now!

In the last few months we’ve really started noticing that Japan is changing; from the nationwide ‘Anti Nuclear Power’ protests, to people fighting for their right to dance with the ‘Let’s dance’ law change. It seems like more people are standing up for what they believe in and fighting for their future. It’s beautiful and empowering. And we’re really happy that we’re part of this change. We really hope more people will start leading Japan to a brighter and stronger future. Thank you for your support.


Sara Ai Coe:
Product of a crazy Japanese mother and Kiwi father, Sara moved to Japan in 2009 after leaving her job at a television network in little ol’ New Zealand. Having a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), she juggles 3 jobs, but her main job is being a promoter and booking manager at an independent record label in Osaka. Sara enjoys telling stories and she tells them through photography, audio documentaries and writing. Her guilty pleasures include: procrastinating, wearing socks to bed, Kanye West and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Read her blog at http://ai-fulog.blogspot.jp/
You can read her former posts for Deep Kyoto here: LINK.


Neconote Flea Market for Tohoku – Sunday October 21st

Neconote volunteers sporting kame comi towels…

Neconote are holding their first biannual charity flea market for Tohoku this Sunday (October 21st) in Kyoto city center. Items for sale include second hand books, clothes, handicrafts from Tohoku + there will also be musical performances and a talk by Fresh Currents editor Eric Johnston.
This news via Jen L. Teeter,

We are still a long way from recovery in Tohoku. At Neconote we believe that every contribution counts! Building upon previous and ongoing Kansai-based efforts to support revitilization in the disaster areas, we hope to continue with that momentum with the bi-annual Neconote Flea Market for Disaster Recovery. All funds will be contributed to local organizations in Tohoku (More details below). Hope to see you on the 21st!

Date and time: Sunday, October 21 10am-4pm
Location: Higashiyama Ikiki Shinimkatsudo Center (東山いきいき市民活動センター)
5 minute walk from Sanjo Keihan Station. Here is a map.


Items for sale!
1. We will have used books and very good quality used clothes for sale.

Kame comi towels

2. Kame comi towels for purchase. They support the work of a cafe in Ishinomaki  in spreading news and information throughout the city and region through community events and a community newspaper.

Edible seaweed from Ishinomaki

3. Seaweed products from an Ishinomaki producer whose factory was destroyed.

4. Takochan made by a group in Kessenuma.

5. Kyoto Journal’s latest publication, “Fresh Currents,” on Fukushima and renewable energy alternatives.

All proceeds will go to the three local Tohoku organizations noted above. We focus on supporting local organizations in the disaster area and making sure that we never forget what has happened and is still taking place in Tohoku.

Performances & Talks
1. Folk, traditional and popular song artist Felicity Greenland
2. Eric Johnston (Japan Times) to talk about the book Fresh Currents, and about shifting from a nuclear past to a renewable future
3. Three unlikely characters: Honami, Jen & Tokuda – one guitar, two vocalists!
4. LOOKING FOR MORE! Contact Neconote if you are interested in lending your artistic talents to support Tohoku! “If you’d like to collaborate in some way, do contact us! We are all about linking up!”

Contact: neconotekansai[at]gmail.com
More information: http://neco-no-te.blogspot.jp

The TA Project ~ Helping the Children of Fukushima Play Their Way to a Brighter Future

Guest contributor, Sara Ai Coe, writes,

These days having a lot of things on my hands, visual reminders have been a life saver (thank you daily organizer iphone apps). I think even with the best intentions, it’s easy to forget about things when there’s no constant reminder integrated into our daily lives. When the earthquake shook Tohoku, watching the news stories everyday, I was hit with so many different emotions. Fear, anger, uncertainty and of course extreme sadness. I donated money and clothes, and volunteered at events raising funds for the victims. Now, nearly 16 months have passed and with less visual reminders, I am guilty of thinking that somehow things up in northern Japan are getting back to normal.

But as many already know, just because the story disappears from the news, doesn’t mean it’s been blessed with a fairy tale ending. For most, the true battle has only begun. Knowing this, one group of young people here in Kansai decided to go and see how things have changed in the Tohoku area, and ended up starting their own charity project. Takumi Ake, who had just returned from living in London, was absent from Japan when the disaster hit. So together with his friends Taji Yasutaka and Kenshiro Haneda they visited the area in May this year. As well as visiting Miyagi, they visited Kenshiro’s hometown Korimachi in Fukushima. Witnessing the aftermath was mind-blowing, but what got to them the most was hearing how the disaster was affecting how children played outside. ‘These kids aren’t allowed to play more than an hour outside because of the radiation. Playing outside and having fun is a big part of childhood’, says Takumi. Wanting to cheer up these kids, they came up with the TA project.

Continue reading


This picture by Sheila Campbell

Though we didn’t quite get the crowds we had hoped for last weekend, we still managed to make a fair bit of money to help IDRO Japan continue its good work in northern Japan. Our combined takings for two days was 156,561 yen but we had a lot of stuff left over, some of which we took to a used clothing store and some to Bookoff. After Bookoff’s contribution our current total stands at 163,121 yen. However, we are still waiting to hear how much the used clothing store will give us, so the final grand total could be a wee bit higher yet.

Continue reading



We received a lot of goods yesterday and it has become obvious we are not going to be able to sell it all by the end of today. This is our final sale, so unfortunately any goods brought to us today will be respectfully (and apologetically) declined.

Today we are open from 10 ~ 3.

Today all clothes, shoes, bags, knick-knacks & cookies are going for 100 yen.

Books are 100 yen for two!

Ceramics, electrical goods and household items will be sold for a donation of your choice.

Yesterday we took over 113,000 yen. Thank you to all the volunteers and musicians who helped to make it such a memorable day. Continue reading


Some people are still under the impression that our sale this weekend is in the same location as last year. Let me make this clear…


Here again are the directions in case you didn’t catch them in earlier postings: Continue reading

Thank You!

Thank you to all the good Kyoto people who have helped us promote our charity sale for Tohoku! Hover your cursor over each picture to see who they are…

IDRO Japan’s Golden Week Charity Sale for Tohoku will be held on the 5th & 6th of May near Demachiyanagi Station – check the links below for more information:

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/218940804872318/
More details here: http://www.deepkyoto.com/?p=7328


So, we have a flyer!

Isn’t it gorgeous? Just click on it for a better view. Many thanks to Yutaka for designing this. If anyone should like to help distribute it :), in either colour or black & white just send me your email address and I can send you the pdfs. There’s just over a week to go now of course so we need to get the word out quick!

I can also confirm the entertainment schedule for Saturday, May 5th:

Felicity Greenland (vocals and guitar): 3.30 – 4.30
Jen L. Teeter (vocals) &  Hiroyuki Tokuda (guitar):  4.45 – 5.45
Max Dodds (vocal and guitar): 6:00 – 7:00

Entry is of course free, but the idea is that the musicians play as a “human jukebox”, so you toss them a few coins and they play you a song! All monies donated of course going to Tohoku via IDRO Japan.

We have also been promised all kinds of delicious baked goods, not to mention Tadg McLoughlin’s traditional Irish oak smoked bacon which is currently under production and will be vacuum packed and sliced!

Mewby’s cookies will also be making an appearance, having proven so popular last year.

Here’s a quick recap of this events key points:

Event: Massive Bargain Sale / Gathering / Sing-a-long / Cookie Fest

Purpose: To raise lots of cash/awareness for IDRO Japan’s great work in the disaster-struck Tohoku region!

Dates & Times: Saturday May 5th – 11:00 – 21:00 /Sunday May 6th – 10:00 – 15:00

Location: Very close to Demachiyanagi Station at the 左京西部いきいき市民活動センター (Sakyou Nishibu Iki-iki Shimin Katsudou Center). Please note – it’s not the same location as last year!


Now the map on the flyer makes the location look easy to find but actually it’s a little more complicated than that, so here are some clear directions. From Demachiyanagi Station head east. You will pass Heming Sports Club on your right and on your left, there is a broad area of azalea hedge. Turn left at the hedge! Go straight up until you see a small tobacco shop directly in front of you. Take the road to the left of the shop and go up again. You will pass a temple on your right and then another temple on your left. Just a few steps further on your right is the Iki-iki Shimin Katsudou Center. There is a kindergarten on the ground floor. Go up to the second floor and we are at the far end of the building in Room 3. We are looking forward to seeing you!

You can also check the google map here which has the route marked from Demachiyanagi Exit 5.

For more details of the event, please visit this post, or sign up on our Facebook event page.