Tohoku Earthquake – 5 years later

I had trouble writing this post.  It’s been nearly seven years since I left Miyagi-ken.  I haven’t gone back like I had planned, and now I don’t see my students coming to Southlake because they’ve grown up (also the age range changed).  As evident with the decreased frequency of updates, I’ve become distant with the country that is my second home.

Nevertheless, I can’t forget about how five years ago, I spent all night worrying about my friends when the casual status updates about an earthquake became something much scarier.  It’s hard to not think about the Tohoku earthquake when NPR was all over the 5 year anniversary and all of us Miyagi-ken JETs pay tribute on social media.  I think it’s good to be reminded though, as the people in the region are still struggling.  Thus, I’ve decided to make this post about some examples of aid and recovery.  There’s a lot of individuals out there who continue to dedicate some of their time to Tohoku through raising money or lifting spirits.  Let this be inspiration to all of us.

The one project that led to this post was the 113 Project.  It is a series of short films directed by Wesley Julian, one of my fellow Miyagi JETs who also created Tohoku Tomo.  The 113 Project provides glimpses of rebuilding from youth, local business members, and expats to show the power of collaboration.  To view the films, visit the 113 Project website.
 photo Sake-Urakasumi-TourBrewery-IMG_9130_zpsjbsip6gd.jpg From 113 Project

Visual kei band X Japan has always been active with charity work, having raised money for both the Tohoku earthquake and other disasters.  This year drummer/pianist Yoshiki put up a special drum set for auction.  He donated the proceeds to the Japanese Red Cross.
 photo Ydrum1_zpsgo1iphrf.jpg From Resonance Media

The question of where to send money often crops up with disaster relief.  While I don’t doubt the Red Cross’ valiant efforts, they have received some criticism, at least stateside.   One charity I can recommend 100% is the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund.  Not only does each project provide updates through emails from Global Giving, but the charity is run by the father of Taylor Anderson (who was another Miyagi JET).

Lastly, I wanted to highlight RADWIMPS’ annual tribute as an example of how art heals.  Listening to music that pays tribute to the survivors never fails to bring back emotions I thought I had forgotten.  Seeing images does the same.  With the returning sadness is a message of hope that the artists put into their work.  Tohoku is recovering, and the human spirit will triumph.  Since 2012, RADWIMPS has released a new tribute song on March 11.  Here is a list along with the video of the most recent:
2012 – “Hakujitsu
2013 – “Buriki
2014 – “Kaiko
2015 – “Aitowa
2016 – “Shuntou”


AnimeFest 2011 report

AnimeFest is not your typical anime convention. It’s four days long (the advantage to being on Labor Day weekend). It prefers to stay small, hence no day passes this year.  There are two nights of cosplay contests: one for walk-ons and one for skits.  It also insists on staying true to its name— panels and guests must be related to anime.

One may think that AFest is a little too focused to provide enough material for four days, but the definition of “anime-related” can be very broad.  The panels covered everything from plushie-making to h.Naoto (Ibi was a special guest) to “How to Talk to Girls”.  I got to sit in on Digital Painting 101, led by the entertaining Amelie Belcher, and for part of Steampunk 101 with the Celestial Rogues.

The panels might not have been great in number, but they had something for everyone. There was also gaming, a semi-formal ball, a singing competition, and an interactive game based on The World Ends with You. The viewing rooms showed a wide-ranged of anime— both subbed and dubbed— as well as the films Summer Wars, Tekken Blood Vengeance (of which there was a panel featuring the writer, Dai Sato), and Trigun: Badland Rumble.

Cosplays too have moved beyond being strictly anime and video games.  In fact, much of what caught my eye came from various genres of Western media: Adventure Time, Harry Potter, Homestuck, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Repo the Genetic Opera, and Scott Pilgrim.
AFest-Sunday26 AFest-Sunday21

This year has demonstrated a major shift in the most commonly-cosplayed series from the Shounen Jump favorites to a more diverse collection that includes Doctor Who, Axis Powers Hetalia, Vampire Knight, and Vocaloid. There was a lot of Gainax love with the sizable number of Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt cosplayers and the attention they attracted. Older anime series, such as Trigun, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Sailor Moon, were popular as well.
AFest-Saturday10 AFest-Sunday17

Fashion didn’t have as strong of a presence outside of the dealer’s room and Bizarre Bazaar (a.k.a. artist’s alley). There was one Lolita panel and one steampunk panel, and I only spotted a handful of each. However, it turns out that neo-Victorian males were sought out for their vests and slacks, an item on the scavenger hunt list.

The most impressive part about AFest for me was the interest in charity. The con hosted a blood drive and a charity-literacy auction. I spotted several tables supporting earthquake/tsunami relief, local libraries, and local women’s shelters. Amidst the chaotic gatherings and massive spending, it was nice to see anime fans get together for a good cause.

For more photos, click here.

Listening to: “What Are the Roses For?” by Angela Aki

Messages from Minamisanriku fishermen and JET alum

Thank you to Canon for sharing this.

JETwit has been chronicling the accounts of JET alum selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to return to their cities, which were affected by the earthquake and tsunami, in their Return to Tohoku series. Check out the posts to learn what the former JETs are doing and how their cities are dealing with the long road to recovery.

Recently I created a Tumblr to share media related to my various blogs, ideas for future posts, and other projects and musings. You can follow me at

Listening to: “Memory” by Daishi Dance feat. Mika Nakashima

Japan Aid Update

It has been a while since I’ve updated with earthquake and tsunami relief information.  The news in America has all but ceased coverage, and life in some areas have returned to normal.  However, rebuilding entire towns takes years so this post serves a dual purpose of showing that every little bit does count for something and of keeping you updated on more charity opportunities.

When I made my post about Japanese celebrities helping out, I hadn’t seen the blog posts by Sugizo of Luna Sea and X Japan.  He actually took the time to go down to Ishinomaki to help out.

My friend and tsunami survivor Canon Purdy recently traveled back to Minamisanriku to hand over the money she raised through her SaveMiyagi charity.  She has updated the blog section of the site with pictures of the rebuilding.  She plans on continuing to raise money and is currently helping out in Ishinomaki with Peace Boat.

One of my Tome sempai, Lucy Onodera, notified me about a charity run her sisters were doing in England.  They’re collecting money to buy school supplies and other necessities for orphaned children.

Speaking of Tome, the city’s mayor sent a letter to Southlake’s mayor expressing his gratitude towards the citizens of Southlake who dedicated their time and money to helping out their sister city.  Remember this banner from the Southlake 4 Japan benefit concert?  It’s currently on display in Tome’s city hall.
ssc banner

A couple weeks ago, the steampunk event Anachronism III took place in New York.  The theme was “A Visit to Edo”, and part of proceeds went to various earthquake relief efforts.  If you missed out, you can still donate to the steampunk-helmed charity Rising Phoenix Circle

If you didn’t catch the Cosplay for a Cause link in my Guide to Cosplay, here it is again.  The profits from the calendar sales will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Blogger La Carmina, actor Sebastiano Serafini, and Soho Hearts are selling a necklace to help the Sendai government in rebuilding areas of the Miyagi Prefecture.
pray for japan necklace
Photo from La Carmina

Smile Kids Japan and Living Dreams have teamed up to help children affected by the disaster by providing basic necessities, toys, school supplies, and counseling services. Smile Kids Japan also contains a video with an update on Taylor Anderson’s Memorial Fund.  Kyodo News also reports that her family has donated money for books to all the schools she taught at.

There will be a free benefit concert at Corner Stone Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas tomorrow.  Donations will go to aid Kesennuma Elementary School and Utatsu Junior High.  If you can’t attend but would like to help, please contact me and I will give you information on where to donate.
FW benefit concert
Check out the concert’s webpage for messages from Japanese athletes and the office of George W. Bush.

It’s great to see so much hard work and dedication being put to helping out those in need.  Let’s continue to show Japan our support.

Listening to:[-club REALISTIC-]” by MoNoLith