We Can’t Forget…
Reflections on the Upcoming Kyougaku Taiko Drummer “Arigatou” ConcertTour 2012
The survivors today of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami are living through their second winter since the disaster. This year there has been a particularly harsh winter with deep snows and severe blizzards. The people of Japan stand together and day by day continue to support the reconstruction of the survivor’s lives. The reality is stark, but looking forward with hope, the survivors work toward healing.
In our internet connected world, we have watched from the US; the videos, news stories and daily reports on the devastation in Japan and the year of efforts to rebuild. In the first days after the disaster in Japan on March 11th, 2011, we watched powerful reports of heroic rescue and recovery operations in the worst hit areas of Eastern Japan.
As the world watched, an admiration arose for the Japanese people who faced this horrific devastation with a unified calmness and strength. As I watched from the United States I reflected on where this trait in the Japanese character and spirit came from.
After much thinking I concluded that these were traits of a Japanese people who lived their lives traditionally very close to the earth and nature. The areas hardest hit by the 2011 earthquake disaster were mostly rural communities of farmers and fisherman; a people who have lived off the land and by the laws of nature for centuries.
These communities have worked together in a partnership with nature throughout history; reaping the fruits of harvest and weathering the wrath of unpredictable nature. Weathering harsh winters, torrential rains or any other of nature’s disasters has always been a way of life and survival for the people in these areas, making them very well acquainted with the nature of nature itself.
Most Japanese people in rural areas especially, have beliefs deeply rooted in a Shinto and Buddhist philosophy that revolves around a great respect for nature. Shinto custom finds gods or kamisama in most all natural elements and especially before our modern days of scientific discovery; it was the gods that were the cause of any natural disasters that might occur. Traditionally great attempts have always been made to keep the gods happy in all parts of Japan through offerings, prayers and festivals.
This intrinsic respect for nature and religion that is instilled in the Japanese psyche is one of the reasons I believe the people of Japan reacted with such calm and order in the face of even this largest of disasters.
Even being Japanese myself, I found myself marveling at the calm of the people with the rest of the watching world. I think we will all be equally impressed by ongoing accomplishments of these survivors as they continue to rebuild their world.
This coming March 11th, 2012 on the first anniversary of the day of the earthquake disaster in Japan, Nippon Kan General Headquarters USA, with the help of many, will be coordinating a special concert to be performed at the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This part of Colorado supports many military bases and operations including the US Air Force Academy and was a major staging area for “Operation Tomodachi” (Operation Friend) in the US.
As a longtime partner in Nippon Kan’s humanitarian and cross-cultural mission, Nippon Kan General Headquarters has invited the world renowned Shinano no Kuni, Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers from Matsukawa Village, Nagano Prefecture, Japan to perform at this special event. The Kyougaku Drummers have worked together with Nippon Kan on many international humanitarian projects, performing concerts coordinated by Nippon Kan in the US, Brazil, Columbia, Turkey and the UAE. Link here for articles about these concerts around the world!
The concert project in March 2012 is coordinated by Nippon Kan in cooperation with the Japan Foundation in Denver. The concert tour has been named “The Kyougaku Taiko Drummers “Arigatou” (thank you) Tour 2012 and its mission is to express a united voice of thanks and appreciation from all of the disaster survivors in Japan for the aid and support provided by the United States through Operation Tomodachi and other support campaigns.
At the time of the disaster in March 2011, the response was swift and generous from the United States. Although all of the missions of aid are too numerous to list in this article they were well documented. Only six hours after the initial earthquake and following tsunami, over 100 US military aircraft were sent to the worst hit areas to coordinate overhead surveillance. Within two days, the US carrier Ronald Regan reached the shores of Japan to coordinate countless helicopter drops of emergency relieve supplies. Only days later, all branches of the US military forces joined together in “Operation Tomodachi” bringing much needed emergency supplies and trained personnel.
Thinking in simple terms, it is hard to imagine how many resources would be needed to move even one carrier one mile, much less all the way to Japan… Operation Tomodachi was not created because Japan and the United States are under treaty; it was created because of the heart, philanthropy and generosity of the American people. Not only were the military dispatched in short order to aid in Japan but the American people, from all over the country, rose together in support of the rescue and recovery efforts so far away.
Nippon Kan, a 501 © 3 non-profit organization has had a lot of experience supporting many humanitarian efforts in projects around the world. Initially, there was a great outpouring of support for victims of the earthquake in Japan but my own experience with Nippon Kan humanitarian support efforts cautioned me to wait a bit before deciding how best Nippon Kan could support the survivors in Japan.
This decision to wait was based directly on Nippon Kan’s philosophy of support and we have been thinking through the year, as we continued with our previously established support projects in the world, when and what would be the best contribution we could make to Japan. Thinking strategically, using all of one’s resources simultaneously is not always the wisest strategy. Leaving resources in reserve for a second wave of support is just as important. The recovery for these victims will be a very long-term project; and the healing will not take place overnight. Aid and support, in different forms, will be needed for a very long time.
It is also very important to us to maintain a wide perspective and not lose sight of the other humanitarian projects under Nippon Kan’s care that also need of attention and support. Since the time of the earthquake disaster in Japan, we have served over 3000 meals to the homeless in Denver and internationally we have built and opened a new AHAN Learning Center in Mindanao in the Philippines, and a new orphanage for Myanmar refugee children in Thailand called the Bilay House Orphanage.
We had not forgotten the crisis in Japan this past year, but worked to consider both our own size and resources and how most effectively to continue our support for others also in great need and consider new options for support in Japan.
In my long experience with international humanitarian assistance I have learned many truths. I have learned that those who receive support and are not truly appreciative of assistance, struggle to grow out of their situation of need. In some situations, I have seen people that have receive support and become “addicted” to the support; only growing more dependent on others and losing their ability for individual, self motivation and productivity. In most of my experience however, I have learned that those who have received support with a tremendous amount of appreciation, grow and take on new individual responsibility with ingenuity and heart. I do not think that our organization is not the only organization that has come to these conclusions; I believe that this is a phenomenon that is universal.
My heritage is Japanese. I feel that it is my personal responsibility to help Japan and the Japanese people express their appreciation for American support during Japan’s time of true crisis. I would never want to see Japan labeled or judged as ungrateful for all the help received, as this would be far, far from the truth.
At the time of earthquake disaster last year, there were many fund and supply raising campaigns coordinated in the US by Japanese citizens living in the United States. I feel there is an obligation for these Japanese citizens to make sure that the American people who supported their causes are shown the appreciation they deserve.
The victims of the earthquake disaster in Japan, indeed all of the people of Japan, will never forget the support they have received from all over the world. Right now, however, the survivors working to rebuild their lives in the worst hit areas of Japan are not able to express their thanks personally. This day, maybe even this moment, all of these people hide the pain in their hearts and with as much bravery as they can muster, continue to struggle towards recovery. This brave effort I believe is a great testimonial and symbol in itself of their appreciation for the support they have received. They are giving their best efforts, one day at a time.
At Nippon Kan General Headquarters we have taken as our mission to bring the message of thanks and the spirit of survival and appreciation from the survivors in Japan to the American people. This message is a very important part of the Japanese heart and spirit, and helping to carry this message we feel is the best way we can help to give our support.
The Kyougaku Taiko Drummers will not only be performing at the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, they will also be performing a Denver, Colorado “Arigatou” concert at the Denver University, Newman Center for the Performing Arts on March 14th, 2012. This concert, part of the Kyougaku Taiko Drummers “Arigatou” tour brings a message of thanks and hope from the Japanese people to Denver. As a gesture of thanks this concert will be performed in support of the Denver Rescue Mission, an institution in Denver serving the homeless since 1892.
On March 12th, 2012, The Kyougaku Taiko Drummers will also perform in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a focus on support for children with cancer in Santa Fe.
This Kyougaku Taiko Drummer “Arigatou” Concert Tour will receive partial financial support from the Japan Foundation but primarily this project is made possible by all of the people, both from Japan and the United States who understand the spirit and message of this concert series and have donated countless hours of their time and many talents to make it possible. Whether from Japan or US we sincerely give our thanks to all.
We, the people of Japan cannot forget…
We cannot forget what we have learned from the experience of this disaster.
We cannot forget that to recover from this disaster will take time.
We cannot forget the support we have received from all over the world.
I personally invite all of you to join us for this Kyougaku Taiko Drummer “Arigatou” Concert Tour 2012 and hope you will be able to attend.
Nippon Kan and AHAN Founder
December 1st, 2011
This article was written by Nippon Kan Founder Gaku Homma in December 2011. The Kyougaku Taiko Drummer’s Arigatou Concert Tour from March 10th- 16th, 2012 was an overwhelming success! All concerts at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Santa Fe and Denver were filled to overflowing capacity and audiences were thrilled with the performances. Over 3000 people attended this concert series and the message and the music touched the hearts of every single person.
Full report on the Kyougaku Taiko Drummers Arigatou Concert Tour will be included in the next Activity report updates for Jan-April 2012.