In early May, Yasushi Matsui a.k.a. noa-, headed up to northeast Japan to deliver the Rise Japan donations to Open Japan in Ishinomaki, which runs the SunRice and Ibuki projects (please check the link for more info). Even though I could only stay for five days, I had a chance to walk around and see the current situation of affected area.
I would like to share some photos so you can see the current situation.
The neighborhood around the shoreline had been heavily damaged. Some houses are still standing but inside was cleaned out. In a story about the situation right after the tsunami happened, there was mud and rubble everywhere, and it smelled so bad no one can explain how the bad it smells. It felt like vacant lots were everywhere. If you walk a little more inland you can find brand new houses here and there, but there are many people still living in temporary housing.
When I arrived at the Open Japan base, the SunRice project was having a meeting for the day’s delivery and to educate new volunteers. I could not join the actual delivery work, but I helped repacking the rice into individual 3kg bags. On the assembly line, the first person measures the rice to 3kg. The next person closes the bag, and the last person puts the message on the bag. Then they are packed into a container and delivered by the volunteers one by one.
Oshika peninsula is the closest to the center of earthquake, and got experienced the worst damage from the tsunami. They were famous for their fishing industry, especially whaling, oyster farming, and harvesting sea weed. Sadly most of the ships were carried away, and a lot of fishermen had to leave the town to find work. There are also people who decided to stay and continue business at a temporary building built by Japanese Emergency NGO and funded by a German Organization called Help.
This is the house which the Ibuki project is trying to fix and to rebuild as a community center so people can come and do events or workshops. I’m amazed the house is still standing in Ooharahama since it is built in by the shore. No one knows how long this project will take to be completed, but everyone is hoping to see this house change and people gather around. To make a meaningful project for the locals, Open Japan and locals from Ooharahama are discussing the direction of this project.
I had a chance to hear the 1st conference. There were negative comments from the locals in contrast to the high motivation of Open Japan. Obviously it is hard to think about the future of Ooharahama because of the decreasing population of the town, especially younger generations. Members of Open Japan, however, believe in the Ibuki project which will be a key point to reconstruct the town and bring the people back. I decided to donate the whole donation to the Ibuki project to support the courage of the volunteers who are willing to complete this project. The donation still does not satisfy half of their goal. Please make a donation for their effort and see the progress to the goal together. DONATION
In this miserable situation, people are trying to get up and give a hand to each other to rebuild the community, economy and society. Since it was a holiday season and Children’s Day, festivals were held with a wish for revival by the locals and volunteers. I had a chance to paint with Gravityfree at a few places.
The festival for Oshika was especially impressive. The festival was planned for May 3rd, but it was cancelled because of bad weather and postponed to the 4th. Worrying about the weather, locals and volunteers joined forces to prepare, and the festival started with beautiful weather. When the festival got close to the end, it was starting to rain. Most of the people gave up to see the fireworks which were planned last, but suddenly the rain stopped like someone turned the knob on the shower. Then Huge fireworks blew up on the dark sky. Big smiles came back on people’s faces. There were people crying. This must be a great opportunity to gather people from around the Oshika Peninsula and volunteers. They will remember this new unity, and it will give the light for the future of Oshika.
We would like to announce that we will focus on long-term support of two projects organized by Ishinomaki Kizuna: SunRice and Ibuki. We are planning to volunteer at these projects in Japan this May. Donations we raise from Rise Japan fundraiser events will directly support distributing rise to each households, and rebuilding traditional Japanese houses in Ishinomaki-shi (one of the main damaged areas by tsunami).
For more details, you can download PDF (日本語版 PDF) by clicking the images below.
English translation by Robert Porter and Yasushi Matsui
San Francisco artist/couple, Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock previously contributed their art works for Rise Japan Vol.1&2, and are now collaborating with Kinokuniya Bookstores, U.S. On this occasion they have generously autographed and donated 50 two-color silkscreen canvas tote bags of two designs to Rise Japan. The tote bags will be for sale at the Rise Japan booth during the March 11th memorial event in Japan Town Peace Plaza on March 10th, and 11th.
The following interview with Kelly and Ferris shows their love for Japan.
Rise Japan (RJ): What were your initial feelings when you heard about the March 11th disaster?
Kelly (Ke): We were horrified. Japan is one of our favorite places in the world. I
couldn’t watch the news- it was just too much.
Ferris (Fe): I was hoping that all my friends were safe and that their families
were safe. What scared me the most was the Nuclear reactors.
All we heard in the Bay Area was about radiation leaks and
contamination of the elements. Then videos started being posted of the
total devastation that occurred and my wife and I were crushed. It was
horrifying to see those videos and to feel so useless.
RJ: What are your memories of Japan, and the exhibition at FTC Tokyo in 2010?
Ke: We loved our trip- we took our son who was 8 months old at the time. I
can always say that he learned to crawl in Tokyo, which makes me very
happy. It was my first trip to Japan as well; it was amazing to be
able to really be a part of the city though sadly for only a week- we
were so well hosted by our friends at FTC. We can’t wait to go back.
We took the Shinkansen to Kyoto- it’s very humbling- the beauty and
tradition. We felt very welcomed.
Fe: I have been to Tokyo many times and have always had the opportunity to
meet amazing artists from the city. Everybody I hang out with whenever
I am visiting is amazing. FTC Tokyo treated us like family and we had such an
amazing time sharing our work with them.
RJ: What was your first encounter with Japanese culture and how has Japanese imagery influenced your artistic style?
Ke: Since I can remember I’ve loved the aesthetic- my parents traveled a
lot, so I had a doll that was a gift from my father that I stared at
for hours- because it was so perfect. It’s still a very special thing
to me. I continued to spend time with Japanese culture in school.
I love so many things about Japanese style and it has had a great impact
on my work: in the traditional sense- the elegance, the graphic
quality, the colors, the stylization of nature and the human form, the
grace of ink paintings and the definitive record of motion that is
calligraphy. In a modern sense, I love the irreverence, the humor, and
But I’ve always loved kimono most of all. I have a small collection
that I adore.
Fe: When I was a kid, I loved Starblazers, Robotech and Voltron. I checked
out Akira Kurosawa films and Miyazaki films from my neighborhood
library and watched them over and over again. Akira and Lone Wolf &
Cub were huge for me too. I have always loved Ukiyo-e prints and lived
down the street from a Buddhist Temple as a child that would display
their collection every year for their Obon festival. I think the trip
Kelly and I took in 2010 to Kyoto influenced both of our work
immensely. I love the patterns and the posture of the characters
depicted in traditional Japanese woodblock prints.
RJ: Could you tell me about your inspiration and design for the tote bags?
Ke: I made the painting that the design is derived from the day after the
terrible events of 3.11. I just had to make something. The candles in
paper boats are memories for those that were lost, but they also felt
like islands to me. It’s a reminder that everything is connected and
when something is destroyed it’s felt everywhere.
Fe: You were my inspiration noa-… ha ha… I loved the bag you created
and always wanted to do one myself.
I am a huge fan of shiba inu dogs and love the way they are always so
thoughtful. I wanted to use the same colors you used
as a hat tip to you and to create a fun character with a lot of detail!
We are accepting your generous offer of artwork donations for our RISE JAPAN booth at Community Remembrance: “Our Hearts to Japan” event at San Francisco Japan Town on Sunday March 11, 2012, 12pm-5pm. This memorial event is to honor and remember the 1 year anniversary of Northern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
The proceeds will be donated to JCCCNC (Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California) Great Northern Earthquake Relief Fund (www.kokoro4japan.org)
We are accepting:
Under $200 worth of artworks in any format, including prints, small goods, small paintings, framed pieces (no fragile works: this is outdoor event!).
Drop-off: March 6th, 12pm-7pm
@ 606 Ellis St. San Francisco 94102
Ring the bell at the gate!
If you can’t physically make it to the drop-off location, you can also send the works (UPS recommended) by Friday March 9th to:
Attn: Keiko Kuramoto
606 Ellis St. San Francisco 94102
For any questions and concerns, email us!