Umami Mart Barware
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I'm happy to report that we had a successful fundraising event for Tohoku last month. This was our first collaboration with UC Berkeley's Center for Japanese Studies, and we'd all agree that it was awesome. Despite the massive rain that poured down on downtown Berkeley on the night of March 12, we had about 100 people show up, ticket in hand, for a night of food inspired by the region, a compassionate talk by a journalist, music by jazz band Otonowa, sake and cocktails, and DJ Marcy from Fukushima.

With the support of attendees, we were able to raise nearly $7500 for two organizations actively doing good work in the Tohoku region: Safecast, a foundation selling kits to build geiger counters and encouraging people to share their radiation data online in a free, open-source website platform; and Y-PLAN Japan (“Youth – Plan, Learn, Act, Now”), a UC Berkeley leadership and exchange program that has hosted 600 high schoolers from Tohoku since 2012.

Held at the Brower Center, it was an evening filled with education, great food and drinks, conversations with new friends, and most importantly, MUSIC! We danced our asses off, in remembrance of Tohoku, and it felt good.

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A warm thank you to Harriet, who came a little early with flowers

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The one and only Hermexial tended bar

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Kazuko-san and Atsushi

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We kicked off the evening with a talk by Martin Fackler, the former Tokyo Bureau Chief of the New York Times.

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Mr. Fackler was on the ground when the earthquake hit Japan in 2011. He described his experiences of visiting the affected region with pointed references and vivid imagery. It was at once haunting and sobering, but also uplifting as he spoke of the school children who helped the elderly to reach the roof tops. The talk was wonderful and certainly a highlight of the evening.


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Dana Bundrock, Chair of the Center for Japanese Studies

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Setting up the buffet with Tori-chan's cooking!

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Tori-chan, originally from Minami Soma in Tohoku, owns a restaurant called Jicca in Tokyo. We were so happy to have her here for our fundraiser. The night was made that much more special because of it. This is what she cooked up with Keisuke of Casa de Kei:

Event Menu
Local Fukushima Cuisine
By Jicca


Miso Roll with Shiso (しそ巻き)

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Mushroom Kinpira (きのこのきんぴら)

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AIZU SOBA Salad (会津蕎麦サラダ)

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Shio Koji Pickles (三五八ピクルス)

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Salmon & Ikura Rice Balls (鮭はらこ炊き込みおにぎり)

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Miso-marinated Roast Pork (豚ロース味噌漬け)

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Anko & Chocolate Ball (あんこトリュフ)



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A line formed for the food as soon as the doors opened. 

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A huge THANK YOU to our generous sake sponsor Sake One and beer sponsor Coedo.

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Leroy and Martin Fackler

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Local jazz band Otonowa played a set for us. They have toured extensively throughout the Tohoku region since 2011 to show their support through music.

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And the party never stopped in the food room:

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Keisuke of Casa de Kei helped Tori-chan in the kitchen for the event

For the grand finale, we flew in DJ Marcy from Fukushima for our event. Marcy owns a record shop in Fukushima called Little Bird where we met him for the first time last year. We spoke of bringing him over for this fundraiser and so thankful that he actually made it!

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Marcy's set was peppered with funk, soul, and retro dance hits from Japan. We had a blast.

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Nathan and Hermexial. Thanks to you both for tending the bar!

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We had a donation booth at the table, which also received action during the event.

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It was so wonderful to commemorate the devastating Tohoku disaster of 2011 in such a lively and forward-thinking way. Thank you everyone for supporting this important cause!

All photos by Joe Stillwater