Friday, March 11, 2016

5 Years After 3/11

Today is the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災 Higashi nihon daishinsai ) on March 11, 2011.
Buddhist Lantern Ceremony, Kōmyōji, Kamakura
 March 10, 2016
Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction--An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories (Stone Bridge Press) continues to raise money by donating royalties from sales of the book.

The donations from Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction support high school students in the earthquake and tsunami affected areas via the N.P.O Hope for Tomorrow. In December, Hope for Tomorrow announced the most recent allocation of funds as follows:
The 2015 Educational Support Program will be allocated to the following five high schools:Haramachi High School (Minami Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture), Ishinomaki High School (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture), Kesennuma High School (Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture), Ofunato High School (Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture) Takata Senior High School (Rikuzentakada City, Iwate Prefecture; temporarily located in Ofunato City).
Individual recipients are selected through their schools, and grants are awarded to students each February.

Five years have passed since the earthquake--both quickly and slowly. Recovery proceeds in Tohoku, but problems abound, and of course, after trauma of such magnitude, grief and pain are ongoing. In Japan, it is customary to keep true feelings to yourself, to mute your complaints, to suffer in silence. After the tsunami, a homeowner in the town of Otsuchi in Iwachi Prefecture wisely set up a telephone booth in his garden, placed a disconnected rotary dial phone inside, and invited people to step inside and speak to the loved ones they'd lost in the disaster. Called the kaze no denwa (風の電話) -- wind phone -- the booth has drawn over 10,000 visitors (see a reblogged version of a Mainichi Daily article here and NHK coverage in Japanese here). NHK recently featured a poignant documentary (trailer) on the phone and its power to enable individuals to speak words of deep pain. One segment featured a family of a mother and her three children who'd lost their father with all of them visiting the wind phone after the eldest child bravely did so.

Yoko Imoto has written and illustrated a children's picture book called Kaze no denwa (The Wind Telephone).  This book and one other are featured on the SCBWI Japan Translation Group Blog: Two Stories for Children Commemorate 3.11 in a post by Deborah Iwabuchi (translator of the Tomo story "The Law of Gravity" by Yuko Katakawa) with links to English-language readings.

For readers of all ages, today is a also good day to re-read the SCBWI Japan Translation Group post by Sako Ikegami (translator of the Tomo story "Hachiro" by Ryusuke Saito): The Tale of Hamaguchi Gohei and the Tsunami.  Kimiko Kajikawa's picture book Tsunami, written before 3/11, is based on the same tale.

Wishing compassion and the comfort of words and stories to all those affected by the disasters of March 11, 2011.