It's hard to believe that it has been nearly five years since the devastating tsunami disaster in Tohoku. The earthquake struck on March 11, 2011 and news traveled quickly to California. I recall watching footage of towns in northern Japan immersed in water -- people being dragged downstream (many who had passed on), while people stood on rooftops of their homes, trying not to get sucked into the fury.
The death toll kept growing each day, with awful news of burning nuclear plants in Fukushima, all while we received photos of Tokyo in a panicked frenzy. Back then, we only had an online shop, and Yoko and I decided immediately to donate proceeds of sales to relief funds. To take it a step further, we organized a huge soiree in San Francisco to fundraise for a food bank in Japan. We raised over $10,000 for the cause! It was one of the greatest events we've put together -- bringing together our closest friends in the Bay Area to support the affected regions in a way that made the most sense to us. The gift of food!
Since 2011, Yoko and I have traveled to Tohoku a few times, meeting with farmers, small business owners and volunteers. While there was indeed a mass exodus of residents from the region to Hokkaido, or southern Japan, the people who have stayed remain positive and continue their daily lives. However, the area is not the same, and it would be foolish to pretend that nothing ever happened, and even more shameful to forget about the disaster altogether. As the government continues to convolute information about radiation levels in the region, people have expressed that they feel "invisible." It seems that our support is more important than ever.
For the fifth anniversary of the Tohoku disaster, we are teaming up with the Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley to bring you TOHOKU SPRINGS BACK, an evening of food, drinks, music and dancing. And a talk by former NY Times Bureau Chief of Tokyo! We'd like to commemorate the hardships endured in the Tohoku region in the last five years, and the people who are bringing positive change to the area.
The event will take place at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, on Saturday March 12:
We are inviting our friend DJ Marcy from Fukushima (owner of a record shop in Fukushima City called Little Bird) and our friend Tori-chan, who owns a restaurant in Tokyo called Jicca (but herself is from Minami-Soma, in Fukushima). Tori will cook for the event along with Casa de Kei, and DJ Marcy will spin records.
Local jazz band Otonowa will play a set and there will also be a special talk by Martin Fackler, former New York Times Bureau Chief of Japan -- who was on the ground on 3/11/2011. He will talk about his experiences during this time as a journalist.
Local Fukushima Cuisine
Miso Roll with Shiso (しそ巻き)
Mushroom Kinpira (きのこのきんぴら)
AIZU SOBA Salad (会津蕎麦サラダ)
Shio Koji Pickles (三五八ピクルス)
Salmon & Ikura Rice Balls (鮭はらこ炊き込みおにぎり)
Miso-marinated Roast Pork (豚ロース味噌漬け)
Anko & Chocolate Ball (あんこトリュフ)
The two non-profit organizations we will be fundraising for will be:
1. 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. Through generous funding from SoftBank, 100 youth pursue a three-week intensive program on building leadership and social enterprise skills. We’ve met these students when they were in town two years ago and they were so wonderful. These funds will go towards an event to be held while the TOMODACHI students are here this summer, honoring and showcasing their accomplishments and inviting back the many, many people who have come to know them in the Bay area through family homestays, field trips and intense interactions on community development.
2. 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. Yoko and I built a geiger counter with Safecast last month in Shibuya, then went up to Koriyama to visit Safecast volunteers, who have a sensor at their residence. We respect the work of Safecast deeply and would like to raise funds for geiger counters to be installed in public spaces Tohoku.
Tickets are $75 general admission and $50 for students and faculty.
BUY TIX HERE:
WHAT: Tohoku Springs Back -- Commemorating 5 Years of Positive Change in Tohoku, Japan
Food by Jicca and Casa de Kei
Sake, beer + cocktails
Music by DJ Marcy and Otonowa
Talk by Martin Fackler, Former NY Times Tokyo Bureau Chief
WHEN: Saturday March 12, 2016, 7-10pm
WHERE: David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
BART: Downtown Berkeley
Can't join us for the event?
Donate to Safecast here.
Donate to Tomodachi program here. In Step #4, write "Tomodachi Program."