10 years on and shining!

posted in: News

We had a very special meeting this week with Maria-chan in Japan. She is one of the original orphans supported by Aid For Japan.

Maria is now studying business and fashion at a Tokyo university, and wishes to visit London this summer to go to the Tate Modern.

More updates coming soon from Maria and the charity trustees.

Aid For Japan 2021 : The Year In Review

posted in: Events, Feature, Fundraising

Braving a tough year…

2021 was the ten year anniversary of the charity. It also marked ten years since the natural disaster which devastated East Japan, especially the Tohoku region where most of the orphans supported by the charity are from.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to make in-person gatherings unsafe and unfeasible, so we used this opportunity to hold a Japanese Online Cultural Fair. This was to commemorate the disaster and to remember the good work Aid For Japan has done since.

The Online Cultural Fair featured some great Japanese-themed content – none of which would have been possible without Aid For Japan’s volunteers. These included a sushi roll lesson, an origami crane making workshop and an introduction to Japanese Girls’ Day hinamatsuri dolls. A touching commemorative video was also created for 11th March 2021 using the song “Baton For Life” composed by a Tohoku pop artist named asari. You can watch the video here.

The Online Cultural Fair raised £504! We really appreciate your donations and your continued support.

May 2021 was a very sad time as the founder and pioneer of the charity, Akemi Tanaka, passed away after developing cancer. Her Japanese and English obituary can be read here. The charity trustees and supporters were devastated by this news, but as Akemi said so succinctly in her book The Power of Chōwa:

When we lose the people closest to us, it is perfectly natural for us to feel as if we have fallen down, and to feel like there is nothing we can do to get back up.

But chōwa reminds us that people come together in times of sadness. It teaches us that it is the people left alive that matter the most, and we must help each other back to our feet.

And so, the charity continues with all our combined efforts. We are very lucky to have a good and dedicated team behind Aid For Japan, and you can find out more about us here.

We plan to host two of the orphans (who are now more grown-ups than children since the disaster happened ten years ago). So long as travel restrictions are lifted by Summer 2022, we wish to invite Maria and Manami to England. The following year we will invite another two orphans. The smaller group allows us to manage admin and to tailor the trips to the individuals, who have specific interests in English culture.

We continued the festive tradition of sending Christmas gifts to the orphans this year and next year we hope to do some in-person fundraising activities. Such as a hanami cherry blossom viewing party, attending Doki Doki Manchester Japanese Festival and more!

If you wish to keep up to date with Aid For Japan news then please join our mailing list here. Akemi has a commemorative tree in Kew Gardens and if you would like to know more about it then please take a look here.

Aid For Japan is grateful for the continued support and generosity from the following people and organisations: Akiharu Kitagawa, Bree Van Zyl, Dartford Grammar School, Doki Doki Festival Manchester, Ishinomaki Nishi High School, Rotary Club of Chiswick & Brentford, Sophie Arias, The Griffin Federation, Yukio Saito (Saito-Sensei) and Zonta International.

Christmas Gifts 2021

posted in: News

Another year of COVID-19 meant another year of uncertainty. We thought it was particularly important to keep up the Christmas cheer and so sent presents to the orphans in Tohoku, Japan.

This lovely festive tradition was started by Akemi when she first set up the charity. For the past decade the orphans that we are in contact with have been receiving Christmas presents funded by everyone’s generous donations.

For Christmas 2021, we sent Scottish shortbread in biscuit tins the shape of double-decker buses. Alongside them we included cute eco-friendly festive greeting cards.

Thank you for your donations. They help us purchase, package and send via air mail each person’s present in time to reach Japan before Christmas.

Akemi’s Tree and Winter Gathering

posted in: Feature, News

This winter we had our first in-person gathering with the charity trustees since the March 2020 lockdown.

Unfortunately and quite inevitably some members couldn’t make it due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, or because they lived on the other side of the world in Japan.

For those who could come together during this festive season, we befittingly met at Kew Gardens where there is a memorial tree for Akemi Tanaka Solloway Pennington, the late founder of this charity.

The tree is a sakura (cherry blossom) species known as Prunus ‘matsumae usugasane somei’. Akemi’s tree stands to the West of the Temperate House and there is a small plaque on the trunk with her name on it.

Kew Gardens had been decorated for the Christmas Lights spectacle, and so Akemi’s tree had colourful electric lights all over it (as you can see from the pictures). The branches were bare, but the tree still looked beautiful with all its dormant buds awaiting the Spring. We look forward to visiting Akemi’s tree many times over in years to come.

If you would like to visit Akemi’s tree and want to know the precise location of it, then feel free to email us and we can send you a map of where it is. Please note the opening hours and entry prices for Kew Gardens, which you can find on their website here.

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