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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Voices & Spring Love Harukaze Explore 3.11 Issues @ Tokyo this weekend




It has been slightly over one year since the tragedy of 3.11. Two Tokyo events scheduled for this weekend will highlight ongoing themes of critical importance, such as reconstruction efforts in the Tohoku area and health concerns following the Fukushima nuclear accident. Both events will also raise awareness while featuring various music and arts performances, workshops, and much more.

The first event, Voices, will be held all day this Saturday, March 31st, in Tokyo's Shibaura district. It is a collaboration between the Namida Project—a non-profit, multicultural grassroots effort whose aim is to help empower people to turn tears of sadness into tears of joy—and the community event space Shibaura House. According to the event website:

VOICES is a gathering of narratives, ideas, knowledge, experiences, opinions and expressions that have grown out of the 3.11 disasters in Japan. In the unique open and inviting spaces of SHIBAURA HOUSE, join workshops, participate in talk sessions, listen to stories, view exhibitions and enjoy music as you reflect on and discuss what has happened over the past year and what should be done to create safe and sustainable communities.

The design of SHIBAURA HOUSE erases the inside/outside, us/them boundaries and brings everyone together in a warm space that offers us a chance to meet and share, and to open our imaginations to other possibilities.

In the evening there will be a special charity concert. It will feature renowned musician and composer Akira Inoue. He will be accompanied by shakuhachi performers, led by Ryozan Sakata, Grand Master of Tozanryu, and including Junya Ohkouchi, Kizan Kawamura and Keiko Higuchi. Guitarist Haruo Kubota and flutist Miya will also join Akira Inoue to create a wonderful windscape of sounds.

We hope you can join us on March 31st and help make VOICES a very special event.

Namida Project is a non-profit, multicultural grassroots effort. Our aim is to help empower people so we can turn «tears of sadness to tears of joy».

EVENT LIST

TALK SESSION 1 // 10:00-12:00
Voices of Health
TALK SESSION 2 // 13:00-15:00
Voices of Fukushima
TALK SESSION 3 // 16:30-18:30
Voices of the People

DOCUMENTARY &
DIRECTOR´S TALK // 11:00 - 12:00

PERFORMANCE // 15:15-16:00
Contellusion

PERFORMANCES // 10:00 -18:30
Accumulating Voices

WORKSHOPS
Take Action Workshop // 10:00-12:00
Improvisational Game Workshop // 13:15-14:45
Connecting through badge-making // 16:00-18:00

PRESENTATION
Video Voices // 10:00-18:30

ART EXHIBITION
Voices of Kiri-e // 10:00-18:30

PERFORMANCES
Accumulating Voices // 10:00-18:30

WORKSHOP
I am here! // 10:00-18:30

DISPLAYS
Kids Voice // Shadowlands 10:00-18:30

BOOKSHOP  10:00-18:30

FOOD SALES 10:00-18:30
http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
CHARITY CONCERT // Windscape 19:30-21:00
Among the day's events are a screening of Then and Now, an exquisitely filmed, brilliantly nuanced short film featuring interviews with Ishinomaki residents about issues that continue facing their community nearly one year following the March tsunami devastation. Following the film will be a talk with its director, Paul Richard Johannessen, and Ishinomaki community leader Toshihiko Fujita.


For detailed information in English and Japanese about all event sessions, as well as tickets and registration, see the official event website.

The second event, "Harukaze 2012: Think It!" will also be held this coming weekend, Saturday March 31st and Sunday April 1st, amongst the budding cherry blossoms in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. The event will feature live music, DJs, an organic market, live painting, and talk sessions featuring speakers on sustainability-related issues, including Gota Matsumura from the grassroots reconstruction project Ishinomaki 2.0.

From the event website:
HARUKAZE: Think it !
Date/Time:
 Saturday, March 31st (noon to sunset)
and Sunday, April 1st (11AM to 8PM)
Venue: 
Yoyogi Park (Outdoor Stage area)* Rain or shine!!
Admission: Free!! (Donations kindly accepted)

Event will feature:

* Three stages (Spring stage, Love stage and Peace Dome)
* The Unnamed Parade
* Skate Ramp powered by Buena Suerte
* Kids activity area
* NPO/NGO booths
* Spring Love Market
* Food/drink stalls featuring healthy/organic ingredients
* Chillout Flea Market
* Talk session on sustainability-related issues
* AND MORE!

The legendary free urban party, Harukaze, is back for its fourth year. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, March 31st and Sunday, April 1st in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park. If our streak of luck continues this year, the weekend will again feature the cherry blossoms at their full peak!

Enjoyed by many event-goers during its first run from 1998-2002, the festival returned in 2009 together with Peace Not War Japan as “Harukaze Spring Love.” Discussions on issues related to peace were added to the lineup that year and the next, and donations were also collected for grassroots peace organizations. Following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake last March, the 2011 event included a candlelight memorial and song tributes for disaster victims from the amazing VOJA (Voices of Japan) led by gospel singer (and festival director) Yuka Kamebuchi, as well as panel discussions on issues related to nuclear power and alternative energy.

The 2012 Harukaze event is titled “Think It!”, and will encourage festival-goers to consider issues from alternative cultural perspectives such as where we have been and where we are headed in our world today. The amazing weekend exthttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifravaganza will again feature top-rated musical and dance performances, organic food and goods stalls, speakers on sustainability-related issues, and much more. Come out with your family, friends, or on your own to enjoy the cherry blossoms while feeding your mind and soul with some Spring Love!!

For more information, see the official event website.

For highlights from past events, see these articles from 2011, 2010 and 2009.

Why not make a weekend of it and attend both events!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

David McNeill: " Latest readings from tsunami-stricken nuclear plant overturn claims that reactors have been made safe"

David McNeill at The Independent, "Still critical: radiation levels at Fukushima can kill in minutes: Latest readings from tsunami-stricken nuclear plant overturn claims that reactors have been made safe":
A lethal level of radiation has been detected inside one of the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, throwing fresh doubts over the operator's claims that the disabled complex is under control....

The struggle to decommission the Daiichi plant continues as a potentially epic battle looms between pro- and anti-nuclear forces. Only one of Japan's 54 reactors is still online after Reactor 6 of the world's largest nuclear complex, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, shut down for maintenance earlier this week.

With Japan's nuclear power capacity down to less than two per cent, from 30 per cent, the Government and businesses fear a summer power crisis unless idling plants are restarted. However, each plant needs approval from sceptical local communities, and post-Fukushima surveys put opposition to nuclear power in Japan at around 80 per cent. Public fears have forced regulators to order tests to determine whether the plants will stand up to another large earthquake or tsunami.

Tepco's disgraced executives also face a 5.5-trillion-yen (£42bn) lawsuit by shareholders. "The company repeatedly ignored tsunami and earthquake research showing that the plant would be overwhelmed," said lead lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai this week. "The plant was run haphazardly and carelessly."

Adrienne Rich: "Poetry can...remind us of kinship where all is represented as separation."

We may feel bitterly how little our poems can do in the face of seemingly out-of-control technological power and seemingly limitless corporate greed, yet it has always been true that poetry can break isolation, show us to ourselves when we are outlawed or made invisible, remind us of beauty where no beauty seems possible, remind us of kinship where all is represented as separation.

- Adrienne Rich

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two Tokyo events this weekend explore 3.11-related themes through music, art, human connection




It has been slightly over one year since the tragedy of 3.11. Two Tokyo events scheduled for this weekend will highlight ongoing themes of critical importance, such as reconstruction efforts in the Tohoku area and health concerns following the Fukushima nuclear accident. Both events will also raise awareness while featuring various music and arts performances, workshops, and much more.

The first event, Voices, will be held all day this Saturday, March 31st, in Tokyo's Shibaura district. It is a collaboration between the Namida Project—a non-profit, multicultural grassroots effort whose aim is to help empower people to turn tears of sadness into tears of joy—and the community event space Shibaura House. According to the event website:

VOICES is a gathering of narratives, ideas, knowledge, experiences, opinions and expressions that have grown out of the 3.11 disasters in Japan. In the unique open and inviting spaces of SHIBAURA HOUSE, join workshops, participate in talk sessions, listen to stories, view exhibitions and enjoy music as you reflect on and discuss what has happened over the past year and what should be done to create safe and sustainable communities.

The design of SHIBAURA HOUSE erases the inside/outside, us/them boundaries and brings everyone together in a warm space that offers us a chance to meet and share, and to open our imaginations to other possibilities.

In the evening there will be a special charity concert. It will feature renowned musician and composer Akira Inoue. He will be accompanied by shakuhachi performers, led by Ryozan Sakata, Grand Master of Tozanryu, and including Junya Ohkouchi, Kizan Kawamura and Keiko Higuchi. Guitarist Haruo Kubota and flutist Miya will also join Akira Inoue to create a wonderful windscape of sounds.

We hope you can join us on March 31st and help make VOICES a very special event.

Namida Project is a non-profit, multicultural grassroots effort. Our aim is to help empower people so we can turn «tears of sadness to tears of joy».

EVENT LIST

TALK SESSION 1 // 10:00-12:00
Voices of Health
TALK SESSION 2 // 13:00-15:00
Voices of Fukushima
TALK SESSION 3 // 16:30-18:30
Voices of the People

DOCUMENTARY &
DIRECTOR´S TALK // 11:00 - 12:00

PERFORMANCE // 15:15-16:00
Contellusion

PERFORMANCES // 10:00 -18:30
Accumulating Voices

WORKSHOPS
Take Action Workshop // 10:00-12:00
Improvisational Game Workshop // 13:15-14:45
Connecting through badge-making // 16:00-18:00

PRESENTATION
Video Voices // 10:00-18:30

ART EXHIBITION
Voices of Kiri-e // 10:00-18:30

PERFORMANCES
Accumulating Voices // 10:00-18:30

WORKSHOP
I am here! // 10:00-18:30

DISPLAYS
Kids Voice // Shadowlands 10:00-18:30

BOOKSHOP  10:00-18:30

FOOD SALES 10:00-18:30
http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
CHARITY CONCERT // Windscape 19:30-21:00
Among the day's events are a screening of Then and Now, an exquisitely filmed, brilliantly nuanced short film featuring interviews with Ishinomaki residents about issues that continue facing their community nearly one year following the March tsunami devastation. Following the film will be a talk with its director, Paul Richard Johannessen, and Ishinomaki community leader Toshihiko Fujita.


Then and Now from Paul Johannessen on Vimeo.

For detailed information in English and Japanese about all event sessions, as well as tickets and registration, see the official event website.

The second event, "Harukaze 2012: Think It!" will also be held this coming weekend, Saturday March 31st and Sunday April 1st, amongst the budding cherry blossoms in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. The event will feature live music, DJs, an organic market, live painting, and talk sessions featuring speakers on sustainability-related issues, including Gota Matsumura from the grassroots reconstruction project Ishinomaki 2.0.

From the event website:
HARUKAZE: Think it !
Date/Time:
 Saturday, March 31st (noon to sunset)
and Sunday, April 1st (11AM to 8PM)
Venue: 
Yoyogi Park (Outdoor Stage area)* Rain or shine!!
Admission: Free!! (Donations kindly accepted)

Event will feature:

* Three stages (Spring stage, Love stage and Peace Dome)
* The Unnamed Parade
* Skate Ramp powered by Buena Suerte
* Kids activity area
* NPO/NGO booths
* Spring Love Market
* Food/drink stalls featuring healthy/organic ingredients
* Chillout Flea Market
* Talk session on sustainability-related issues
* AND MORE!

The legendary free urban party, Harukaze, is back for its fourth year. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, March 31st and Sunday, April 1st in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park. If our streak of luck continues this year, the weekend will again feature the cherry blossoms at their full peak!

Enjoyed by many event-goers during its first run from 1998-2002, the festival returned in 2009 together with Peace Not War Japan as “Harukaze Spring Love.” Discussions on issues related to peace were added to the lineup that year and the next, and donations were also collected for grassroots peace organizations. Following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake last March, the 2011 event included a candlelight memorial and song tributes for disaster victims from the amazing VOJA (Voices of Japan) led by gospel singer (and festival director) Yuka Kamebuchi, as well as panel discussions on issues related to nuclear power and alternative energy.

The 2012 Harukaze event is titled “Think It!”, and will encourage festival-goers to consider issues from alternative cultural perspectives such as where we have been and where we are headed in our world today. The amazing weekend exthttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifravaganza will again feature top-rated musical and dance performances, organic food and goods stalls, speakers on sustainability-related issues, and much more. Come out with your family, friends, or on your own to enjoy the cherry blossoms while feeding your mind and soul with some Spring Love!!

For more information, see the official event website.

For highlights from past events, see these articles from 2011, 2010 and 2009.

Why not make a weekend of it and attend both events!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Uncanny Terrain「超自然の大地」: One Year After the Meltdown 震災から1年



Via Uncanny Terrain:
Filmmakers Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski spent five months inside Japan's nuclear contamination zone, living and working with the farmers, researchers and volunteers who have committed themselves to take the nuclear crisis as an opportunity to build a better society.

We're going beyond disaster reporting, to show what it is really like for these people who refuse to bow to devastating odds. Now we need your help to return to Japan and revisit those working on the front lines of the nuclear crisis, as they mark the one-year anniversary and the farmers prepare to plant again.

We need to raise $10,000 by March 31 to cover the cost of traveling to Japan and shooting there through the May planting. Please join us by donating to and sharing our new IndieGoGo campaign. We encourage PayPal contributions because they are tax-deductible, and funds are available to us immediately...

The organic farmers of Fukushima prefecture toiled for 40 years to grow safe, nutritious and delicious crops on their ancestral land while two nuclear power plants in the prefecture helped feed Tokyo's increasingly voracious energy appetite. Since the March 2011 tsunami triggered the meltdown that spread radioactive contamination on much of the lush farmland of Fukushima and eastern Japan, the farmers have been caught between a government in constant denial of the risks of radiation, and outraged citizens who brand the farmers "child murderers" for continuing to cultivate irradiated land.

But the farmers, researchers and volunteers are committed to building a comprehensive monitoring and reporting network to inform citizens about contamination levels in food, air, water and land, so families can make their own informed decisions; and advancing experimental methods to decontaminate soil or prevent crops grown on contaminated soil from absorbing radiation.

Fukushima has demonstrated the need for greater public vigilance to keep all our food and energy producers honest, not just about radiation but about all the potential contaminants that our collective appetites introduce into our bodies and our communities. Please support Uncanny Terrain and help generate dialogue about these vital issues and assure that the struggles of people in Fukushima can stimulate positive change in the world. Thank you!
Please consider donating to this crucial project, at Indiegogo.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Economics of Happiness: Locally Based Alternatives to the Global Consumer Culture



Many thanks to Anja Light for the head's up on this documentary, website (English, German, Italian and Japanese), and conference (this weekend in Berkeley): The Economics of Happiness:
Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There are personal costs too. For the majority of people on the planet, life is becoming increasingly stressful. We have less time for friends and family and we face mounting pressures at work.

The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, an unholy alliance of governments and big business continues to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, people all over the world are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization.

The film shows how globalization breeds cultural self-rejection, competition and divisiveness; how it structurally promotes the growth of slums and urban sprawl; how it is decimating democracy. We learn about the obscene waste that results from trade for the sake of trade: apples sent from the UK to South Africa to be washed and waxed, then shipped back to British supermarkets; tuna caught off the coast of America, flown to Japan to be processed, then flown back to the US. We hear about the suicides of Indian farmers; about the demise of land-based cultures in every corner of the world.

The second half of The Economics of Happiness provides not only inspiration, but practical solutions. Arguing that economic localization is a strategic solution multiplier that can solve our most serious problems, the film spells out the policy changes needed to enable local businesses to survive and prosper. We are introduced to community initiatives that are moving the localization agenda forward, including urban gardens in Detroit, Michigan and the Transition Town movement in Totnes, UK. We see the benefits of an expanding local food movement that is restoring biological diversity, communities and local economies worldwide. And we are introduced to Via Campesina, the largest social movement in the world, with more than 400 million members.

We hear from a chorus of voices from six continents, including Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten, Samdhong Rinpoche, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Michael Shuman, Zac Goldsmith and Keibo Oiwa. They tell us that climate change and peak oil give us little choice: we need to localize, to bring the economy home. The good news is that as we move in this direction we will begin not only to heal the earth but also to restore our own sense of well-being. The Economics of Happiness challenges us to restore our faith in humanity, challenges us to believe that it is possible to build a better world.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Help restore beautiful Mt. Ogura in Arashiyama, Kyoto - Sunday, March 25, 2012


Via Deep Kyoto:
Poetry lovers and would-be conservationists! This Sunday (March 25th) People Together for Mount Ogura (PTO) needs your help to clean up Mount Ogura - the Poet's Mountain!

Read more here: English Page of 小倉山百人一集の会2012 (PEOPLE TOGETHER FOR MT. OGURA (PTO)):
PTO is a new citizens’ environmental and cultural action NPO, founded in Kyoto, March 2008.

Ogurayama is the beautiful dome-shaped mountain rising on the northern side of the Hozu Gorge as viewed from Arashiyama; a mountain quite unique in its literary associations – from the courtier poets and poetesses of Heian through Priest Saigyo (who had his first hermitage there), Fujiwara Teika (who compiled the karuta collection of 100 Poems by 100 Poets there) right down to Basho (who wrote his Saga Diary there), Kyorai and later haiku poets.

To Mount Ogura
another morning has come
of early winter showers;
when, only yesterday,
all four directions dimly glowed
with red and yellow leaves.


         - Fujiwara Teika

Today, Ogurayama is a ‘forgotten mountain’. On the one hand, it has become a storehouse of wildlife – kingfishers, little cuckoos, deer, wild rabbits, monkeys and so forth – for its varied forests comprise both broadleaf deciduous and broadleaf evergreen, with coniferous sections, too.

On the other, its environmental problems have become severe.

PTO and its volunteers are engaged in tackling the rampant pine disease, in replanting, in maintenance of the bamboo groves on Ogura’s lower slopes, and in collection of rubbish tipped illegally and its future prevention.

We work so that Mt. Ogura will once again become a true inspiration for people who seek enjoyment of natural beauty, and will find its rightful place again in the living local culture of Sagano.

Rendezvous: JR Saga-Arashiyama Station ticket barrier at 9:40. Depart: 9:45

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grandmothers protest South Korean military seizure & demolition of farms & homes in Gangjeong, Jeju Island

Grandmothers in Jeju Island demonstrate against the state seizure and destruction of farmland and homes in Gangjeong Village, and a biodiverse coast (home of Jeju Island's endangered red crabs) and soft coral habitat to make way for a miltary base. Photo: Fielding Hong

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tomoko Oji: Japan's Nuclear Plants & Okinawa's Military Bases

Tomoko Oji's sensitive comparison of nuclear power plants in Tohoku and U.S. military bases in Okinawa, "Seeing the U.S. base issue in a different light" published at The Mainichi on March 17:
Seeing the U.S. base issue in a different light

One year has now passed since the devastating quake and tsunami that triggered the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima, and recently I overheard a worker living near a U.S. base in Okinawa comment on the latest news reports.

"The nuclear power plant issue and the base issue are similar. But the people in mainland Japan don't take the base issue to heart like the nuclear power plant issue," the worker said.

Indeed, the majority opinion is that nuclear power plants and bases bring major "benefits," so it can't be helped if some sectors are forced to carry a heavier burden. One can catch glimpses of the discriminatory idea that problems stemming from forcing one area to host a "dangerous facility" can be resolved simply by paying grants.

I think both issues are similar yet different. Nuclear power plants were built as part of a national policy, and local bodies that were struggling with depopulation and financial burdens accepted them in agonizing decisions. The land for many bases in Okinawa, on the other hand, was literally taken after World War II with the U.S. military's use of "bayonets and bulldozers."

There are also differences in the ways that the receiving ends "take the issue to heart." After the nuclear accident, the Tokyo metropolitan area, where Diet members, central government bureaucrats, and nationwide media reporters gather, became a "concerned party" that felt the issue up close. The merits and demerits of nuclear power plants emerged in the form of both thankfulness and unseen fear of radiation every time people turned on a light or a faucet.

But what about the base issue? It takes a considerable amount of imaginative power to take the issue to heart to the same extent. The main merit of the bases is said to be military deterrence, but it is not easy to feel grateful for something that can't actually be measured. What about the demerits, then? Every time a fighter or helicopter flies low above rooftops near a base, people's conversation is cut off, window frames rattle, and the television reception goes fuzzy. These are things that people probably cannot understand unless they live in those areas. The "concerned parties" are more localized than those affected by radiation, which crosses prefectural borders and the sea.

The merits and demerits of bases are harder to see. I think people first need to be aware of this. (By Tomoko Oji, Foreign News Department)

March 17, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

One-year commemoration of 3.11 disaster spans range of human emotion in disaster-hit region

Tsunami-devastated area near Soma City, Fukushima prefecture (March 10, 2012)

After having traveled to the heavily tsunami-damaged city of Ishinomaki this past November, and then again in January, my partner Sheila and I decided to head up again this past weekend for our third volunteering stint since the disaster struck last March. This time we would be there for the one-year 3.11 commemoration, and frankly speaking, I had somewhat mixed feelings about our decision to visit the city at this time. Even though we had begun forging relationships with local people during our past visits, I felt that as outsiders—those who had neither experienced the disaster firsthand, nor been there to volunteer during the initial weeks and months when the situation was at its rawest—we might be better off participating in a 3.11 remembrance ceremony elsewhere. Still, I reasoned, the volunteer work was carrying on, just as it had every single day over the past year. And so, as our overnight bus pulled away from Tokyo, I pushed the thought out of my mind.

We had hooked up during both of our previous visits with an international volunteer group known as It’s Not Just Mud (INJM), but since their house was completely full for the weekend, we decided to stay elsewhere and then meet up with them for daily project assignments. As it turns out, we were lucky to end up finding any accommodation in the city at all, as the first six or seven places that I contacted had all been completely booked. Clearly, if our presence as outsiders was going to be inappropriate in any way, we were at least not going to be alone in that respect.

Just prior to boarding the bus, I had gotten a phone call from one of the INJM coordinators asking if we would join the team traveling to Minamisoma City in Fukushima prefecture to help deliver food, water and other necessary supplies to local residents. The city, which straddles the 20km nuclear power plant exclusion zone, has basically existed in state of oblivion during the past year, with nearly two-thirds of its 70,000-some residents fleeing shortly after the accident, and those staying behind having to face the anxiety of potential long-term radiation effects.

Truthfully speaking, I had been wary about visiting Fukushima myself, given my desire to have a baby within the next year or two, and having been cautioned by several activist friends to stay away due to potential exposure. With the voice on the other end of the line asking if we would join the Minamisoma team, however, I found myself agreeing without even stopping to hesitate. Surely a one-day trip would not do much harm, and radiation levels in Minamisoma were in fact lower than certain other regions of Fukushima. How could I not do my part to help these residents who were living there, day in and day out, uncertain of their future, and many with children themselves?

Our INJM team picked us up shortly after 6:30 AM just after our bus arrived in Ishinomaki, and the van was already filled with a lively group of people from all around the world. The conversation was warm and animated, and as we made our way south amidst deepening snow and gradually frostier temperatures, I found myself thinking that there was actually nowhere I would rather be at that moment.

As soon as we arrived at the first temporary housing unit, we joined the members of the fantastically dedicated Save Minamisoma Project organization in arranging and handing out supplies to each family: Carrots, potatoes, onions, coffee, juice, cereal, pasta, bottled water, cleaning supplies, and packets of candies for the children. One of the housing units was actually a previously abandoned apartment building, and we carried the boxes of supplies upstairs for those living on the upper floors. Some were families of seven or eight people spanning three-generations that were now living in one- or two-bedroom spaces, and although all were grateful to receive the donations and thanked us profusely, the stress on their faces was apparent.


Save Minamisoma Project / It's Not Just Mud
Photos: Michael Connolly


One mother with small children had a particularly worried expression, barely returning our smile or greeting. It was of course impossible to know what she might have been thinking, but with recent news reports about glowing blue tap water in Minamisoma, while the government continues to dismissively advise Fukushima residents to “be strong” even in the face of worries about the safety of air, food and water—even going so far as to release a pamphlet essentially telling pregnant women and parents of small children that there is absolutely no need to worry about radiation—it was not hard to guess what might have been weighing on her mind.

The monthly distribution that we were handing out, for example, included two bottles of water per adult and four per child—an allotment that would likely last only days when considering needs for both drinking and cooking. And for taking medicine, I also realized, when an elderly woman came over and quietly asked for another bottle of water as we were packing up to leave, which she said she needed to help her take her pills. One of the seasoned volunteers simply told her that we were not permitted to distribute anything beyond the allotment, and the woman nodded and went on her way. Once again, I felt strong sadness and anger toward the situation these people were facing, and helpless at not being able to do more.

At the same time, however, I also found myself in somewhat of a different space than I had ever been previously as an anti-nuclear activist used to essentially attending demonstrations and writing about them. This time, by contrast, I was here not as a protester, but as someone having very human interactions with people in the here and now whose lives were being affected by nuclear policy. In this sense, I was reminded of photographer Jan Smith, who had spoken at the recent Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World about his experience from post-disaster Chernobyl, where he confirmed that in order to understand the true impact from a tragedy of this order, it is necessary to have real interactions with the affected individuals in order to capture the human element that media sensationalism often glosses over or leaves out altogether.

Left: Special wooden temporary housing units in Minamisoma City created by designers and architects in order to give residents a greater sense of "home"
Right: Our volunteer team in front of a tower at the same housing unit, where we were invited to share a ramen lunch together with residents


Similarly, the desire to express anger toward TEPCO and the government over the massive suffering caused by the disaster and Japan’s ongoing nuclear policy—vs. that of engaging in a more quiet, reflective remembrance—became a sensitive topic of discussion across the nation on the occasion of the one-year 3.11 commemoration. According to one news report I heard, some survivors called for angry demonstrations to be kept to a minimum or even cancelled altogether on this day out of respect for the dead. Nevertheless, various anti-nuclear protests did take place around the country, with anger at times indeed prevailing. A photo blog at Mkimpo, whose title was aptly translated as “Mourning and Militancy”, captured this tension excellently as it played out on Sunday in the nation's capital, featuring images from a demonstration held at the offices of the Tokyo Electric Power Company side by side with those from another 3.11 event in Hibiya Park titled “Peace On Earth".

Having chosen to spend the one-year anniversary of the disaster in Ishinomaki, where survivors were experiencing deep trauma of a different nature due to severe damage from the tsunami rather than immediate concerns regarding radiation, Sheila and I were most certainly going to follow the lead of local residents in commemorating the tragedy.

As soon as we left our motel the following morning, it was clear that both domestic and international media were all over the city. We ourselves were even stopped and interviewed while on our way to the It’s Not Just Mud house by Fuji TV, who asked for our reflections as part of the network’s 3.11 coverage. While I certainly didn’t mind sharing my thoughts, it did seem a bit as if the reporter was scoping for sound bites rather than looking for an honest and heartfelt assessment.

After a quick reunion at INJM headquarters with friends whom we had not seen since earlier in the winter, we set off to our assignment for the day. Our job was to help do odd jobs at a kimono shop run by an elderly couple in the shopping arcade area near the train station, which had sustained severe damage from the tsunami. The shop had begun doubling as a community hub of sorts following the disaster, with individual- and group-based volunteers gathering to hold meetings and just share tea, snacks, and one another’s company.

Leading the day’s volunteer work at the shop were the members of Ishinomaki 2.0, a dynamic initiative focused upon rebuilding the city through grassroots-level architectural and cultural projects including a design laboratory, a traveling arts market, a community guest house facility, a café powered by solar energy, a bar, a traveling restaurant event series, and more. Sheila and I were asked to paint some shelves and assemble some furniture that the project members had brought for the kimono shop’s community space, and while we worked, a steady stream of university students and other volunteers came in and out of the shop to work on other tasks.

Left: Blackboards for the community space at the kimono shop, which we were asked to paint

Right: Handcrafted wooden tables at the headquarters of the Ishinomaki 2.0 project, located across the street from the kimono shop


The staff at the kimono shop had no plans to attend any of the several memorials taking place around the city at 2:46 PM—the moment the earthquake struck—saying they would instead participate in a candlelight ceremony later that night to honor the souls of the departed. I also learned here that some local residents indeed felt skeptical toward the news media. During our lunch break, where a big group of us had gathered for delicious, steaming bowls of curry-flavored udon noodles, several people were commenting dryly on the sudden influx of hordes of media, with one resident noting the questionable taste of the reporter delivering a newscast while standing atop a mound of tsunami rubble.

Sheila and I had decided to join a call from members of the spiritual community to observe the one-year mark through meditative prayer, and so we excused ourselves at around 2:30 PM in order to find a quiet spot. We ended up in the public space in front of the train station, and as we sat in silent reflection, we heard the same siren ring throughout the city’s loudspeaker system at 2:46 PM that had warned residents of the coming tsunami one year earlier. It was a surreal feeling to say the least, particularly as the weather was warm and sunny in contrast to the cold and snowy temperatures that had tragically accompanied the tsunami the previous year. With people walking around, drinking and eating in cafés, in fact, it would have been easy to pretend that no tragedy had ever struck the city at all.

In front of Ishinomaki station, around 3:30 PM, March 11, 2012

When we stopped in a sporting goods store on our way back to the kimono shop to speak with an older couple we had met on one of our previous visits, I pointed out the good fortune of the shop not having sustained much visible damage. In response, the woman simply pointed toward her heart. “Yes, there is damage,” she said. “It’s here.”

One of the regular volunteers at It's Not Just Mud whom we had met for the first time that morning, psychological nurse Anna Swain, is now working to address this sort of hidden pain that continues one year later among those who experienced the disaster. An American who was born and raised in Tokyo, Anna returned from the United States shortly after 3.11, and now travels around Ishinomaki on her bicycle offering counseling to local residents who ask for her support. "Sometimes, it's just not enough to say "ganbatte!" ("hang in there!") to a seven year-old who has just lost absolutely everything," she observed. "Although it's often not recognized here as such, post-traumatic stress disorder is certainly present among some survivors."

After finishing up our afternoon volunteer work, we headed together with the kimono shop staff and volunteers to attend the evening candlelight ceremony. Everyone was invited to write messages on dove-shaped balloons, which would then be sent upward into the sky. “On this day one year ago, many of us were unable even to say goodbye to our loved ones,” the event organizer said softly just before the balloons were released. “With these balloons, we send the thoughts and words that we were never able to say to them.”

At this point, I had begun to once again feel that we truly did not belong here at this ceremony together with people who had experienced such profound loss and grief. Just then, however, the woman from the kimono shop came over and stood very close to us. Sheila and I both told each other later that it seemed she felt comforted by our presence, and that as all three of us cried, we both had to suppress the desire to hug her or at least put our arm around her. With physical touching rarely taking place in Japan, however, particularly among people of her generation, we had both held back and simply sent her strong thoughts of love and strength.

Below: Candles, before and after dusk, with messages received from residents of Yokohama City for the 3.11 remembrance ceremony

 

We made our way back to the shop after the ceremony to pick up our things, passing by several makeshift altars along the way that had been set out along the streets with candles and small canes of bamboo. A Buddhist monk was sitting in front of one of them lighting incense and chanting, presumably to comfort the souls of the dead. After being invited to pray, I joined others in pinching a fingerful of incense and bringing it to my forehead three times in succession, trying to send deep comfort to the souls of both the departed and the loved ones they had left behind. (Kanagawa-based blogger Ruthie Iida explores related topics in her deeply poignant essay “Tsunami Damage: Living with Ghosts and Spirits”).

Shortly thereafter, as we made our way to the bus to return to Tokyo, a light snow began to fall, gradually picking up and covering the ground with a freezing slush. I knew that this had to have been bringing people more painful memories, due to the snowfall that had compounded their suffering the previous year. As we pulled away from the city, it was this sense of deep empathy for their continuing sense of loss and pain, together with the warmth of the goodbye/see you again soon that we had just shared with everyone at the kimono shop, that settled in a strangely poignant combination inside my heart that would remain for days to come.



Text: Kimberly Hughes
Photos: Sheila Souza

Friday, March 16, 2012

Donal Lunny, Coolfin & The Kodo Drummers (Celtic Groove)



Some Irish-Japanese musical refreshment from a 2008 Ovation Channel program: "East Meets West With Donal Lunny"....

Donal Lunny lives in Okinawa with his musician wife, Hideko Itami, of Soul Flower Union...

The Kodo drummers host the amazing Earth Festival at Sado Island, Japan, every August.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fukushima residents suing Tokyo & TEPCO for negligence

Via Kyodo via Mainichi: "Fukushima citizens to accuse TEPCO, gov't of negligence over crisis":
The antinuclear groups will hold a rally Friday in the city of Iwaki with an eye to mobilizing about 1,000 Fukushima residents to lodge the complaint in mid-May with the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office against officials of the governmental Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency as well as TEPCO, they said.

They will claim that the failure of the utility operating the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant and the government bodies to prevent the nuclear crisis left many people exposed to radiation and some inpatients dead while fleeing from nearby medical institutions.

The groups are also considering accusing those officials of violating a law on pollution causing health hazards by having spread massive amounts of radioactive substances following the crisis triggered by the devastating earthquake and tsunami last year.

Kazuyoshi Sato, a 58-year-old member of the Iwaki municipal assembly in charge of one of the groups, said he believes it is "nonsense that nobody has been held criminally responsible for causing a major nuclear accident."

Democracy Now!: "Contamination Fears Linger for Japanese Children, Workers One Year After Fukushima Meltdown"

"Contamination Fears Linger for Japanese Children, Workers One Year After Fukushima Meltdown":
We go to Japan to speak with Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the Kyoto-based group Green Action, as Japan marks the first anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that left approximately 20,000 dead or missing and triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

It was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. About 326,000 Japanese residents remain homeless, including 80,000 evacuated from the vicinity of the Fukushima facility.

Residents evacuated from the zone set up in a 12-mile radius around the nuclear plant are especially struggling to rebuild their lives. We also speak with Saburo Kitajima, a contract laborer and union organizer from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. "The workers at the Fukushima plant are currently working under extreme circumstances," Kitajima says. "In spite of being exposed to radiation, the levels of wages run to about $100 a day."

UN Panel questions Tokyo's Okinawa policy, citing human rights violations

Via Mainichi, "U.N. panel on racial discrimination to question Japan gov't over Okinawa policy":
Pointing out that the Futenma relocation plan and the planned construction of helipads in Higashison-Takae in Okinawa -- part of a bilateral deal to return part of the U.S. training ground -- could infringe on the racism convention, in its questionnaire the U.N. panel asks the Japanese government how it plans to respond to the voices of local residents.
Background from Jen Teeter's post on Shimin Gaikou actions leading to this latest, "Ainu and Okinawan Human Rights- United Nations Forum on indigenous issues":
The report also urges the Japanese government to abrogate its proposal to construct a U.S. military base in Henoko and Oura Bay, the ecologically fragile habitat of the Okinawan dugong, and six new helipads in Takae.
Second, regarding the Ryukyuan/Okinawan people, the Government of Japan has not implemented the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which call on the government to recognize Ryukyuan/Okinawan people as an indigenous people. As a result, as reported by UN Special Rapporteur Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Doudou Diene, the heavy presence of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa remains as a form of discrimination against the people of Okinawa. At present, two new military base construction proposalss are being carried out under the agreement between the governments of Japan and the U.S., despite the longtime opposition from local indigenous peoples’ communities.
And more at this earlier post: "Ainu and Okinawan Human Rights- UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommendations to Japan"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kurushii: Test your food (and facts)

Head's up for people in Tokyo...

Check out Martin Frid's announcement at his blog, "Test Your Food" (March 17-19 in Tokyo)....

And for everyone concerned about food safety in Japan –– his in-depth, not-to-be-missed article, "Food Safety in Japan: One Year after the Nuclear Disaster" at The Asia-Pacific Journal:
What is interesting to a food safety expert is the actual data showing the contamination levels consumers face. Anything else is speculation, and of course there is a lot of that after such a huge disaster. The data from actual measurements done in Japan with state-of-the-art detectors over the past 12 months present a very interesting picture.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Island of Stone: Professor Yang Yoon-Mo



This short documentary features Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo, South Korea's most renowned film critic, speaking from Jeju Island's southern coast.

Prof. Yang is now being held in a Jeju prison where he is undertaking a protest fast against the illegal military seizure and destruction of the private property of the Gangjeong villagers; the violent intimidation of villagers, clergy and other supporters challenging the illegality of the state seizure; and the military destruction of Jeju Island's most beautiful coast.

On Jan. 30, 2012, he was arrested when he crawled underneath a naval base construction dump truck. He was on probation from a 2011 prison term. During imprisonment he underwent a hunger strike for 76 days.

He told a local newspaper, “At the time of prison fast last year, [Catholic] Bishop Kang Woo-Il persuaded me to stop the fast but as the situation has become different, I will not stop it.”

“Unless the Navy stops its law-transcending illegal construction, my fast will not be stopped either. I will process a hunger strike struggle to accomplish a faith that the Jeju should remain as the demilitarized Island of Peace.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reflecting on 3.11- Speaking to Ishinomaki


A volunteer in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture reflects on the disaster

Could you imagine being here when the earthquake came?
At first you would shake and feel kinda safe,
but then pretty soon you saw a wave coming at your face.
And that tsunami,
Oh mommy!
It’s coming at a face pace.
Maybe you would’ve ran,
but the waves they chased.
And pretty soon you would’ve stopped turned around and shaked.
Maybe in your last time you would’ve thought “oh shit!”
but been glad to be taken away by something magnificent.
Mother Nature had his way,
I said his but I meant her,
But the power thing that she does
Got some people disturbed.
Now I’m looking around the earth that’s scorched.
I can imagine before that a lot of kids would talk.
People playin with their dogs, everybody be happy.
But now we have silence and the ocean and ….
I’ve been around this town and it really hurts my core,
‘Cause the houses that was there, they’re not there any more.
And the people that live there, they’re somewhere else, misplaced.
But a lot of them now got happy smiles on their face
‘Cause there’s a lot of volunteers who came down today,
and they’ve been doing that for a year, or so they say.
So I feel pretty glad to be doing my thing.
I was working and lifting, and now I’m doing it with sing
-ing songs or rapping, how ever you call it.
And if you thought this was stupid,
your attitude is appalling.
We got some garbage over there.
We’ve got garbage piles stacked up high.
A lot of people rest in peace.
They are probably up in the sky.
And it’s cold out here now
but I can remember back then
in Tokyo, blackouts.
I said, “Again?”, but then I thought,
or at least I was reminded that the people up here at no heat,
so I got silent, turned off mine,
used my girl to make some friction,
‘cause I knew the electricity was being distributed
to the people who live around here.
I’m sorry I lost my flow, but you know what, I don’t care
‘cause right now I see a lot of despair in the air.
I see nothing here,
I see nothing there,
I see nothing everywhere,
It’s like, damn, shit…
Now I know it’s been awhile,
so you don’t want to give out donations,
But they still need help,
Don’t be mistaken
And we’re gonna end our rap with a couple of moments of silence.
Listen to the waves, and think if you was there, how would you survive it.

Donations and volunteers are still needed. Consider donating to or joining in with the activities of It's not Just Mud or International Disaster Relief Organization. For a crowd sourced growing list (in English) of organizations contributing to disaster recovery click here, or join in the discussion at Foreign Volunteers Japan.

The rhymer above, known as Rhyming Gaijin, will attempt the record ‘Longest freestyle rap' to raise money for disaster recovery. Information below and more at this link:
The current record is 12 hours exactly.
So he has to go for more than 12 hours.
On March 11th 2012, we will start this challenge at 6:00am in Tamaplaza.
Then we will arrive to Shibuya around 11am.
We will have some charity events in Shibuya and he will stay few hours at each event.
If he can keep raping until 6pm he will beat the record.
But he will keep raping untill he can't rap anymore so we don't know what time we will end this challenge.
This challenge is to raise money for a charity for remembering the 3/11 earthquake.

We will be donating all the money to Its Not Just Mud
http://itsnotjustmud.com/
- Posted by Jen Teeter

Freedom in Harmony: "3/11 a year later, Kamakura & Fujisawa"


Beautiful post on the soulful 3/11 Peace Walk in Kamakura at Freedom in Harmony.

"human ERROR" (by Frying Dutchman) - 1 Million Person Virtual Parade



Via Frying Dutchman:
HOLDING OF THE "human ERROR Parade"

It is our desire for people to utilize the song, "human ERROR" by "FRYING DUTCHMAN" during the humanERROR parade, as a sort of memorial to the victims of the 2011 Japan earthquake, as well as to deepen the considerations we must make towards the decommissioning and phasing out of nuclear power plants. By sharing these feelings and spirit, your participation in this event of freedom, we hope it will spread throughout the world.

Where to play this song:

Please play this song wherever you are; in the streets, shops, your car, your friend’s or colleagues’ cars. Even if you are alone at home, please play this tune in your room.

Of course, if you are at a large-scale gathering, such as a demonstration, rally, exhibition, etc., we hope humanERROR will be noticed.

But participation is not limited to where there are many people. Even listening on your media player, or your smartphone, pc, etc. is participation in the humanERROR parade.

●The parade kicks off on March 10 at noon (12:00 p.m.).

By playing “HumanERROR” at these events, you can spread this movement to even more people. During these 2 days, create a “virtualparade” by playing “HumanERROR” over and over. Share the music with friends and family memberswho haven’ t discovered it yet but who share your desire for a safe and peaceful world.

On March 11 (Saturday) at 1:00 p.m., at the Tidanowa Festival in Okinawa, all of us in Frying Dutchmanwill perform “HumanERROR” with all our soul for all of Japan. You can watch this performance live onUstream and synchronize your feelings with like-minded people all over the world. We believe thatrevolution begins when people’ s hearts unite.

"Requiem"



Via kizunaworld.org via Temple Valley Times, "Requiem" by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit: The March 10, 1945 Fire (Napalm) Bombing of Tokyo's Residential Neighborhoods

Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit Plaintiffs/Defense Counsel/Support Society poster. (Image: Teruo Kano)


The Tokyo Air Raids

Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit* Plaintiffs/Defense Counsel/Support Society

At the end of World War II, the US took a "scorched earth" strategy and attacked 150 cities in Japan. Other than the disastrous damage by atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tokkyo suffered the worst damage of them all.

In November 1944, the US started the air raids on Tokyo by dispatching the newly produced B29 airplanes from the Mariana Islands. At first, the targets were focused on the area of military industry. However, at the beginning of 1945, the US started the indiscriminate bombing to massacre the general public. They dropped fire [napalm] bombs and bombshells every day and night.

On March 10, 1945, the US made a bombing raid in the Kotoh area in Tokyo where the working people resided. After that, the US spread the targets to residential areas. The deck planes joined the attacks. Tokyo was exposed to almost 130 such air raids.

At the beginning of World War II, however, it was Japan that started such indiscriminate bombing in China. Japan almost destroyed Chongqing and other cities. We should never forget it was the Japanese Army that deprived many precious lives of mothers and children.

The number of fatalities of air raids in Tokyo exceeded 115,000; the number of wounded 150,000. And more than 3,000,000 people became war sufferers. 60% of metropolitan Tokyo fell into ruins, leading to the ending of World War II.

Air Raid on March 10, 1945

On March 10, 1945, when the strong north wind was blowing, Tokyo became a scene of carnage.

At dawn on March 10, about 300 B29s carrying full loads of high explosive bombs flew at a very low altitude over Tokyo Bay and started the bombing by creating an encircling net around densely populated Kotoh. Then they launched a series of attacks over the people who had lost all means of escape.

The flames ran through the roads and enveloped the houses and crossed over the canals and the Sumida River. The eastern part of metropolitan Tokyo was totally enveloped with raging flames. Although the air raid ceased within two hours, more than 1,000,000 people lost their houses in fire; about 110,000 were wounded; and about 100,000 died in the canals, bridges, and on the burned land. Most of these were women, children, and elderly people who were definitely not in combatant service.

In the world history of wars, there was no record of 100,000 soldiers being killed in a few hours in one action. In a sense, Tokyo was "the forefront" of World War II.

In December 1964, General Curtis Emerson LeMay, who commanded the indiscriminate bombing on Tokyo, was decorated with the First Order of Merit with the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government recognizing "his effort to bring up the Self Defense Forces of Japan after the war."

Children confined in a cell so as not to escape from the war orphanage in Odaiba, Tokyo, July 1946. (Photo: Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit Plaintiffs/Defense Counsel/Support Society)

*The Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit is the first group lawsuit brought by civilian victims against the Japanese government for neglecting its duty to help civilians after the Tokyo air raid by US bombers on March 10, 1945. The plaintiffs are seeking an apology and reparation for the damages suffered, insisting that "We must never suffer these horrors of war again."


Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit* Plaintiffs/Defense Counsel/Support Society booth
at the 2007 Global Article 9 Conference in Tokyo (Photo:JD)

The Great Tokyo Air Raid through Drawings


The Flames of Kototoi Bridge—Memories of Losing my Family
Artist: Kano Teruo
Location: Sumida River, Kototoi Bridge (Asakusa side)
Age at time of raid: 14

(Image: "That Unforgettable Day--The Great Tokyo Air Raid through Drawings あの日を忘れない・描かれた東京大空襲", The Asia-Pacific Journal)
On March 10, we fled from our home in Asakusa Ward’s Senzoku-cho to Sumida Park near the Kototoi Bridge. The park was a chaotic crowd of jostling people, and I got separated from my family. I jumped into the river because the sparks flying through the air made it so hot that I was having trouble breathing. I was able to wedge myself between the stones of one of the bridge’s supporting pillars. From there I could look up at the flames on the bridge above me and see people stuck on the railing. Every now and again red hot sheets of corrugated tinplate would fly off into the river.

With dawn, those of us who had survived under the bridge gathered. There were about twenty of us left. Everyone else had either burned to death or drowned.

I lost six family members that night, but my troubles were only beginning. I was discriminated against for decades as a war orphan and was forced to live at the lowest levels of society. I don’t even know who to blame for it. I just pray that those who haven’t experienced war will never have to go through that hell themselves.
More at Japan Air Raids.org and Mark Selden's "A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq" at The Asia-Pacific Journal (historical and comparative analysis of the mass bombing of civilians).

The Center of the Tokyo Raid and War Damages exhibition of newly found photos runs until April 8


Nezu Shrine near Asakusa. (Photo: Center of the Tokyo Raid and War Damages

"Center to show photos of U.S. air raids from World War II":
More than 700 never-before-seen photos on the U.S. air raids during World War II, taken by an Imperial Japanese Army propaganda apparatus, will be displayed in Tokyo.

Prints from 636 newly found negatives, as well as 79 photo panels, will be shown at the Center of the Tokyo Raid and War Damages in Koto Ward from Feb. 18...

A man who acquired Tohosha’s former office and darkroom in Tokyo found and kept about 17,000 negatives and donated them to the center last year.

The photos to be displayed show damage from the air raids, which lasted for half a year from November 1944, reconstruction work and life in the ruins of war.

In addition to homes and factories, downtown areas including Ginza and Hibiya and universities such as the Nippon Medical School, Keio University and Sophia University are photographed.

Some photos show damage from U.S. air raids on Hong Kong and Guilin in China, which were under Japanese occupation.

The special exhibition, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the center’s opening, runs through April 8. Admission is 300 yen for adults and 200 yen for junior and senior high school students.
For those who can't make it to the center in Tokyo's Koto War, Time is featuring an online gallery of some of the photographs.

For more info, please visit The Center of the Tokyo Raid and War Damages website.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Beautiful video via project now: "Switch on Imagination"

New York Peace Film Festival - this weekend @Unitarian Church, NYC


New York Peace Film Festival

"Reconciliation Efforts Throughout World"


Sat. March 10 & Sun. March 11, 2012
1:00PM-9:00PM

UNITARIAN CHURCH OF ALL SOULS
1157 LEXINGTON AVENUE ((between 79th and 80th Streets)

Admission: $12 in advance/$15 at the door (cash only day-of)
The 5th Annual New York Peace Film Festival (NYPFF) commemorates the nuclear disaster in Fukushima with several films that address the issue of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

The festival kicks off at 7:00 p.m. Friday night with a gala featuring several of the filmmakers whose works will be screened this weekend. These artists will have the opportunity to discuss their films. The kickoff party is free but an RSVP is requested. Send an e-mail to info@nypeacefilmfest.com or call 917.692.2210.

On Saturday and Sunday, festival organizers will screen ten films, including documentary shorts, full-length documentaries, an animated short, and the 1975 anti-nuke classic Who Will Be Next? which includes portions of an interview with Major General Charles Sweeney, the pilot of the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Saturday’s films focus on peace efforts in Africa and the Caribbean and reconciliation in Japan, and Sunday’s screenings are dedicated to the nuclear issue – both nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

In addition to Who Will Be Next?, there are three other Japanese-related films in the festival’s lineup.

In the documentary short Return to Hiroshima, Takashi Tanemori and his sister survived the Hiroshima bombing as children only to be estranged as adults for 50 years. Their reconciliation mirrors the forgiveness they promote in world affairs. Q&A with the filmmaker follows the screening.

Recruited from internment camps, Japanese Americans reflect on the accomplishments and the horrors of their battalion’s experience during World War II in 442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignity.

Ashes to Honey chronicles one Japanese island’s struggle to halt a nuclear power plant and build a sustainable future.

To purchase tickets in advance for each day’s festival, go to http://nypff2012.eventbrite.com/. Ticket prices, whether in advance or at the door, are for an entire day’s screenings.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jeju governor calls for suspension of destruction beautiful coastline, but South Korea proceeds with explosive blast


"Gangjeong Island" was taken by film director Rain Jung.



(Photo: 오마이뉴스 )



Jeju Island peace activist standing in the destructive aftermath 
of what was once Jeju Island's most beautiful coastline

Today CNN travel writer Francis Cha reported international outrage at explosive demolition of an ancient volcanic rock at what was Jeju Island's most beautiful coastline:
This serene travel photograph of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island has been headlining the top trending news story on local media outlets and SNS in Korea.

Yesterday morning, construction workers began detonating hundreds of kilograms of explosives on the Gureombi seashore at Jeju Island's Gangjeong Village to make way for a new naval base, sparking a public outcry from environmental activists, Korean netizens and Jeju citizens.

Hundreds of activists have chained themselves to vehicles to block contractors from entering the construction site. Twelve protestors, including a Jeju council member, were "removed from the scene" by the police, according to the Korea Herald.

Gangjeong Village is a small fishing town that derives most of its income from tourism. Villagers are afraid the new naval base will affect their livelihood.

"The village is situated near one of the most beautiful walks on the Olle Trail and many travelers come to see the beautiful views," said a reporter for a local newspaper who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"The need for a new naval base is clear, but what is not clear is why they have to build one in one of the most beautiful places on the island, and threaten the tourism of Gangjeong Village. Jeju is an extremely large island and there are countless other spots that would be a better location for the base."
Particular symbolism has been placed on Gureombi Rock (featured in the above photo). It features a rare topographical quality -- being comprised of a single 1.2 kilometer-long rock formed by lava flowing into the sea and rocks rising from the seabed, reported the Korea Times...
Yesterday, the Jeju Island governor issued an emergency appeal , asking the South Korean government to stop destruction and review the controversial, environmentally destructive project.


Arriving at the broad expanse of the Gureombi coast, one is immediately greeted by the sight of Beom and Seogeon Islands, which seem close enough to touch. In 2002, the coastal area here was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The waters off the coast were designated as a marine ecosystem protection zone by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries that same year, and a Cultural Heritage Administration natural monument protection zone in 2004. In essence, the area‘s preservation value has been acknowledged by both the international community and the South Korean government.

The Gureombi coast is also a habitat for the red-footed crab, narrow-mouthed toad and wild fauna designated as endangered by the Ministry of Environment. The Jeju saebaengi, a freshwater shrimp that is a candidate for endangered species status, has been found there, as has the Cladium chinense, a rare variety of flora. All of these endangered species will gradually disappear as the construction effort continues.

Yamada 3.11 Remembrance Project Invites Solidarity Through Photos


Project Members in the town of Yamada-cho, Iwate prefecture

As the one-year mark since Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster approaches, a group of Tokyo-based activist filmmakers have launched a remembrance project based upon their travels to the town of Yamada-cho in Iwate prefecture, which was hard hit by the disaster. There, they have forged relationships with local individuals living in shelters and temporary housing units through simple, life-affirming actions such as cooking, singing, and sharing laughter and tears together during numerous trips to the region over the past year since the disaster struck.

Inspired by the solidarity vigils led by the Women in Black peace activists worldwide, the project invites individuals from around the world to share their thoughts on this occasion simply by sharing a meaningful photograph. Spearheading the project are the members of a filmmaking organization known as Feminist Active Documentary Video Festa (FAV).

From the project website:
YAMADA PROJECT: PHOTO RE-MEMBERING

    ‘Photo-graph’ is to draw with light

Pick a place and stand while you embrace your thoughts over the 3.11 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake/Tsunami, care for your loved ones or your hopes and dreams. When, where and how would you stand?

This project calls for anyone to take a photo while thinking of one’s own “Yamada” that is dear to you. The photos are strung together on the web like an infinitely spread quilt. You can join by simply taking a photo and sending it to us. Anyone is welcome to join!

Please take a picture of yourself standing and send it to yamada@renren-fav.org. The photos will be shared at http://www.renren-fav.org/yamada/eng/. The posting period is unlimited. You’re welcome to send your photos once or periodically.

Yamada Project:

This project began as one of the members of FAV visited the tsunami affected town of Yamada in Iwate Prefecture soon after the Great East Japan Earthquake in order to volunteer to cook for the evacuees. The project is comprised of two separate activities, photo + film. The film project is motivated by a wish to keep in touch with the survivors and is built on a cycle of filming and screening in Yamada. “Yamada” is a common name in Japan that could be any place or anyone. Where or who is it that would be dear to YOU? The photo project has developed in this period leading up to one year after the disaster, so as to photograph this moment in which one stands with thoughts of each of our “Yamada.” The photographs are strung together like an infinitely spreading quilt on the web. The idea of “standing in silence” was inspired by the Women in Black standing action.

Women In Black:

A world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence. It is not an organization but a means of communicating and a formula for action. It s actions often take the form of women wearing black, standing in a public place in silence.
http://www.womeninblack.org/en/vigil

Feminist Active Documentary Video Festa (FAV):

FAV brings to you a collection of outspoken and larger-than-life films from a feminist perspective. Started in 2005, it’s a creative space made possible by organizers, film-makers, and audiences working together.
www.renren-fav.org

** PLEASE SEND YOUR PHOTOS AND SPREAD THIS WIDELY **


The blog of FAV member Miho Tsujii includes a video and English-translated lyrics of the moving song "Here Lives My Heart" by vocalist Fumika Takahashi, which was written on behalf of tsunami survivors.

An event will be held at 7pm on Weds Mar 28th at Waseda Hoshien Liberty Hall where Takahashi will perform, and FAV members will screen their footage from Yamada-cho.

- Kimberly Hughes

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Popcorn Homestead: Early Spring Farmers' Markets in Tokyo


Kichijoji's Earth Day Market. (Photo: Eco-Waza)

Via Kurushii via Joan Bailey's Popcorn Homestead, comprehensive list of farmers' markets in Tokyo this month, including Omote-sando's Gyre Market and Kichijoji's new Earth Day Market in dreamy Inokashira-koen.

More on the Kichijoji market (all organic, all fair trade) in Inokashira Koen at the latest post at Popcorn Homestead:
Many of our usual favorite vendors were there - Cocira with her most excellent bamboo charcoal cleaning product, BioFarm with the usual selection of beautiful greens and the scrumptious roasted potatoes pictured above, Kitagawen with their lovely organic teas, and Miyamotoyama with their mouth-watering homemade mochi, miso, and natto - along with a bundle of new folks selling everything from plants and seeds to jewelry, jams, an assortment of grains, vinegars, miso and shitake, along with jewelry and yarn.