This year saw the 5th Anniversary of the 2011 Japan Earthquake/Tsunami. It provided an opportunity to pause and reflect on the losses that the country had faced, but also the optimism of building for the future.
To commemorate the anniversary, Aid For Japan staged a special event that weaved in an exploration of Japanese culture alongside an exploration of Aid For Japan’s activities and goals. Aid For Japan has enjoyed a high profile recently, notably for its coverage in both The Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers. But this event gave the charity an opportunity to engage with people directly.
The event welcomed guest speakers, such as Zen Buddhist monk Julian Daizan Skinner Roshi. Daizan had compiled In Heaven’s River – an anthology of poems and carvings from the 17th Century Zen monk Enku. The life of Enku had some resonance with the events of 2011 as the monk had been orphaned when his mother was swept away in a flood.
Copies of Daizan’s book were available to buy at the event alongside copies of Hisashi Inoue’s Tales from a Mountain Cave (translation by Angus Turvill). Again, Inoue’s book was relevant as the book’s setting of Kamaishi was one of the areas struck by the 2011 tragedy.
Traditional Japanese culture was also explored through a demonstration of martial art sword techniques. The performance, conducted by John Evans and the students of the Battodo Fudokan dojo, provided a captivating window into the skill and discipline required to work with these classic Japanese weapons. Batto means to draw and strike with the sword. Do refers to a path of training aimed at the complete development of the practitioner.
As John Evans explained, the methods used in the Battodo technique are an inherent part of Japanese culture – much like the coping mechanisms that survivors of the 2011 tragedy employed for dealing with the stress that the event brought into their lives.
Akemi Solloway spoke about the orphans that Aid For Japan was formed to help and dealt with the many activities that the charity was pursuing to give these children a brighter future. This included the introduction of two young volunteers who will be traveling to Japan later this year to gain firsthand experience of the impact the tragedy has had on the country.
Meanwhile, Justin Senryu provided a reflective moment with a performance of his talents on the shakuhachi – the traditional Japanese flute.
Refreshments were also on hand for attendees, including tasty sushi kindly provided by local sushi outlet Maki, while a generous selection of onigiri and dorayaki was donated by The Japan Centre and Wagashi shop.
Attendees walked away from the event with perhaps a stronger impression of the impact that the events of 2011 tragedy had resulted in. Even 5 years on, the effect of the earthquake/tsunami still has a profound impact on those that survived the devastation, particularly the orphans who had lost everything – the same orphans that Aid For Japan is doing its best to lend assistance to.