I've just come back from a visit to Japan via a blog written by Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu, who writes children's books as well as the wonderful Here and There Japan. Though she says her blog is aimed at children, I have found it to be the best place to visit to quell the homesickness for Japan that regularly rises with the passing of the seasons and the coming of the special days celebrated there but that pass here in Canada unmarked, and among the people of my acquaintance, unmourned. Possibly only people who have lived there feel this.
Ms. Chikamatsu keeps most of her posts short and to the point, supported with an evocative photograph or two, that could only have been taken in the Japan that I know and love. To read her is to sink into the Japanese countryside, like entering a warm bath, and as I soak up the words, the feeling grows that if I were to look out my window right now I would be able to see the brown houses and the ceramic roofs, the narrow alleys, the shops decorated gaily for the season, and smell the freshly roasted coffee in my corner coffee shop, or the tang of soy and sugar and vinegar of the obento shop as they prepare all the holiday favourites.
The post I want to reference, before I lead myself too far down memory lane, is the one called In Memoriam, in which she talks about the loss of friends in the Indian Ocean tsunami and the fund raising effort for The East Japanese Earthquake by Students Rebuild. Students around the world folded 2,000,000 cranes to raise money. And they inspired a poster by the artist, Vik Muniz, currently being sold here to boost the relief effort.
Here in Halifax, students were at our local farmer's market soon after the Earthquake and tsunami folding cranes and accepting donations. Those donations were being matched by local banks.
There was a huge crowd around the booth wanting to talk and offer support both in words and with donations. I'm not sure if this fund-raiser was part of Students Rebuild but it was certainly the same idea, and I think this is a great time, with the New Year approaching, to remind ourselves that Japan can still use our well-wishing and whatever we can give.
Note: All photos courtesy and copyright of R. J. O. 2011