The Second Anniversary of The Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

charmworks1It seems like the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 was a long time ago, and chronologically, I guess it was.  Here in Japan, however, the events of the day are still in the front of our minds, brought to the fore with just the slightest whiff of reminder.  Many people across the country are still affected by the events of the day, and many people are still working hard to repair and rebuild those affected areas, as they will be doing for a long time to come, still.

One such young woman who is working on rebuilding is Sohpia Slater.  I had the privilege of interviewing her recently and she speaks with the wisdom and foresight of someone well beyond her years.  Sophia is sixteen and a junior at the American School in Japan.  She started the charity “Charmworks” that you can find here.  Twice a month, she and various people around Tokyo get together to paint charms made from the roof tiles salvaged from a fishing village in the Tohoku region called Funakoshi.

You can read more about my talk with the delightful Ms. Slater on the site A Hopeful Sign.  All money she receives from charmworks2the sale of the charms goes back to the people of Funakoshi so they can rebuild their industry and lives.

As a note, in addition to starting Charmworks and being a good student, Ms. Slater is a rather insightful young lady.  She has a lot of good ideas about the notion of recovery as it encompasses both physical and emotional healing, and how the two go hand in hand.  You can read more about that in her blog posting in the Huffington Post.

The young Ms. Slater’s work is one example of the dedicated men and women across Japan who are working to rebuild the once beautiful seaside towns in the Tohoku region.  Please consider buying a charm from her, or continuing to support Japan in some way.  We live in a 24-hour news cycle these days, and one crisis tends to give way to the next.  But people continue to suffer long after the reporters are gone and the initial sensation is over.  We should always remember.


Tomo – An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the launch of a very special and unique book, titled Tomo: An Anthology of Teen Stories.  In it, both Western and Japanese writers contribute stories aimed at teens, about some aspect of Japan.  Some of the stories are quake-focused, but some are about other experiences of teens – both foreign and Japanese – in Japan and some others are about Japanese teens’ experiences abroad.  There is at least one graphic story and more than one prose-poem.  The beauty ofTomo is that all money raised goes to help children in Tohoku affected by the disasters of March 2011.

At the launch, several writers got up to read from their pieces, and all of them who read, did so as if they were reading directly to the affected children. They emotion of their words and their voices, to a man, was palpable in the room.  It was a wonderful night.

The editor of the anthology, writer Holly Thompson, is masterful in her ability to marshal support in the form of creativity, and the authors who wrote for her have produced a prize-worthy collection of pieces designed to explain, inform, and aid teens in their cross-cultural understandings.

Please go to the Tomo website here, and see the details of how to purchase this book.  I assure you that the teens are not the only ones who will appreciate it.