A year after the quake in Japan – Japanese in overseas
On the 11th of March was the most memorable day for Japanese people this year. Not only those who live there but also who live outside of Japan. I don´t think there were no Japanese living overseas and didn´t think about Japan any moment. I´m sure many tried to find what they could do for their country. How many years being away from Japan, we are Japanese and that doesn´t change.
Japanese people living in Spain are not the exception. On the 11th of March, there were many memorial events in many places. I´ve got to know two of those, one in Madrid and one in Sevilla.
Lazo y Arigatou was held in Madrid. The organiser was the girl who asked people to make Origami Tsuru (origami crane) in her website, 1000grullas. Young Japanese artists who live in Madrid got together for her call. There were a Japanese flamenco dancer, an expert of the flower arrangement, a chef of Japanese home cooking, an urban architect and many volunteers who came to help.
From the entrance to the exhibition room, there were many photos of origami cranes that have been sent by people around the world. A chef who has a small Teppan-yaki restaurant in Madrid made tasty okonomi-yaki. There were beautiful flowers arranged on the every corner. Volunteer helpers explained the situation in the affected area to the visitors by showing the photos or teaching them how to make origami tsuru. Some of the volunteers have been in the devastated area in Touhoku to help cleaning and their stories were so real.
I myself participated as a calligrapher and did a small demonstration.
This is the letter of Kizuna (bond / the title of the event, Lazo) which was the word of the year 2011.
We wanted to thank to everyone who helped us during the year and we appreciate the bond we had through the catastrophe.
Now, there was another event held in Sevilla, the south of Spain. The organiser is an association of Japanese people in Spain called Maholoba. I was able to talk to one of the founder of the association.
“Sevilla Japanese Association, Maholoba” was formed on the 11th of March 2011 when Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami attacked Japan. The main object of this association is to support Japan. Despite of he damage Japan had, we understand that there are many other countries in the world that have sever internal problems, wars or disasters, so our main purpose is not collecting donation for Japan but to introduce Japanese culture through activities. Then we send the sales we earn from the events as a donation. The staff come to help us are all volunteers.
The most difficult part is to maintain the staff. This time there were about 20 people participated in the event; lecturers for kendo (剣道), poetry, Japanese literature, calligraphy (書道), cooking and origami (折り紙), helpers, people who cooked and sold food, masseurs, people who sold yukata (浴衣), accountants, publicists, presenter of the event, some people took more than two parts but even that, many people collaborated with us.
To be honest, I think most of the Spanish people have already forgotten about this disaster. Rather, they believed that Japan is fine now as it´s a powerful country despite of what had happened. I personally think this is normal. I can´t remember all the disasters and incidents happening every day in the world.
We will never forget, that is the most important thing and I think it´s enough for me that more Spanish people like Japan and travel to Japan or buy Japanese products through our activities.
Since the 11th of March last year, Maholoba has been having an event every two months and selling charity goods. We have sent 14,000 euro in total to Japan. This might be a small quantity but I do believe that if each Japanese person who lives outside of Japan does something they can do, at the end it becomes a big movement.
Our next event is “Maholoba Japan week” in May. We will have workshops of Japanese table manners, calligraphy, olive oil tasting and Japanese cookery class.
Have you been to any 1 year memorial event in your country?