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12 Years On From The Disaster And Our Closing Charity Event

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Twelve years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the charity held its final anniversary event to mark the occasion on 11th March 2023 at the London Metropolitan Archives.

It was warming to see familiar faces there, like Andrew Gaskell the organiser of Doki Doki Japanese Festival Manchester who has fundraised for our charity over the years, and New Earth Theatre who produced the exhibition Tsunagu/Connect about the untold stories of Japanese women who emigrated to the UK, and many other supporters.

We held a saké tasting workshop run by Mikie Flannery, who taught us about the traditional methods of saké brewing. Everyone got to taste three grades of different of saké!

Our trustee Yuka Harada-Parr had brought with her homemade Japanese snacks, such as karagé (friend chicken) and onigiri (rice balls). Yuka also ran a workshop on how to make emergency supplies following a natural disaster with materials you can find lying around, such as slippers made from old newspapers, and rain-ponchos made from bin bags.

A slideshow on Maria-chan’s summer trip to England was presented by Richard Pennington, who was her host-family. Maria-chan is one of the charity’s long-standing beneficiaries, after she tragically lost her family to the tsunami when she was eleven years old.

We were pleased to be able to share aspects of Japanese culture and introduce projects which are ongoing since the 2011 natural disaster.

Radio Imagination was one such project. This immersive online radio play inspired by Seiko Ito’s novel (by the same title) about the wake of the earthquake and tsunami was launched on the day, 11th March (or 3/11 as people call it in Japan) to commemorate the Tohoku disaster. The artistic director Kelsey Yuhara spoke to us about the creative process and working with a team based in UK, Japan and Singapore during the pandemic. Tickets to experience this online play can be found here.

On the same day in Japan an independent film called 『有り、触れた、未来』(Arifureta Mirai) or Eternal New Mornings (English title) premiered.

This film is about facing life after a natural disaster hits a community set in Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Our charity added English subtitles to their YouTube trailer and to introduce it at our event the director of the film, Toru Yamamoto, sent us this message:

Eternal New Mornings

Since the onset of COVID-19, Japan has seen a rise in suicides among young people, and children refusing to go to school has become a serious problem. This movie is meant for everyone out there who finds it hard to live in an increasingly stifling society, and for the children who will live in our future. It was made with donations from both Japan and the rest of the world, in the hopes that it could give these people “the strength to live”. All filming was done in Miyagi Prefecture, which was badly damaged in the 2011 Japan Earthquake. This is not a film about the Earthquake or the reconstruction, though.

The people there suffered deep wounds in their hearts, but came together to support each other for the sake of the children. By depicting their lives, I want to bring “the strength to live” to viewers through the screen. That’s why I chose to set it in an area affected by the Earthquake. The countless koinobori streamers that you send in the ending are a Japanese tradition symbolizing the hope that our children grow up to be healthy and strong.

Many of the people in Japan who commit suicide are actors and performers. But in an era filled with war, poverty, infectious disease, and other dark things, artistic creatives need to keep our spirits up, work together, and bring people a brighter future. I believe in the power of culture and the power of film. And I hope that many people can experience the energy of this film in the theater and come to believe in a brighter future.

Director/Scriptwriter Toru Yamamoto




                           監督/脚本 山本 透

In this way and through work like this, we will continue to recover from and remember the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami for years to come.

Thanks to: Trustees, Jack Deeprose at LMA, New Earth Theatre, Doki Doki, Saito-sensei, Rio Harada-Parr, Kelsey Yuhara, Mikie Flannery.