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Osaka Kansai International Art Festival Vol. 3 Image: Kohei Mastumura
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An artful aftershock: Supporting Noto Peninsula earthquake recovery through the arts

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By Ashley Tsuruoka

In times of hardship, artists look to find understanding and healing through art. The Noto Peninsula earthquake struck on Jan. 1, leaving destruction in its wake. Amid the tragedy, arts initiatives began to emerge, offering alternative ways to support affected communities. An astounding number of concerts, exhibitions and auctions have been emerging as additional avenues of support for recovery through the arts.

While some have since ended, many events and exhibitions are ongoing.

Charity auctions

Crafted with a clear “crystal” casing, a see-through grand piano was auctioned off on January 16. While three Kawai CR-40 Crystal Grands are produced annually, this piano possessed rarity beyond its visible inner workings. The piano held sentimental value to legendary rock musician and composer Yoshiki, leader of X Japan, who deemed the piano part of his family. Bidding farewell to his musical companion, Yoshiki helped raise ¥40 million in donations to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Illustrated ceramics, metal-forged foliage, clay dolls, leather bags and much more were sold at the Craft Artist Charity Auction which took place from February 2-4. Artists of kogei, traditional Japanese arts and crafts, handmade beautiful works using centuries-old craft styles and techniques, such as urushi lacquerware sprinkled with gold and tsumami-zaiku, decorations made of intricately folded fabric. With 701 bidders, these artists raised over ¥6 million, donating 100% of profits to the Japan Red Cross Society.

“Sakura” corsages, “bird’s eye” black and silver tea bowls, “seahorse” gold sake cups and much more were auctioned by Enishira, a traditional crafts business based in Kanazawa, Ishikawa. Although Enishira suffered light damages to its shops, they have decided to donate 100% of profits to the Ishikawa Prefecture Noto Peninsula Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund. The auction concluded on February 13, selling 47 artworks from artists across the country.

Charity exhibitions

Above: Exhibit by Daisuke Ishizuka for Osaka Kansai International Art Festival Vol. 3.

Studying the relationship between art, people and the streets in times of crisis, Study: Osaka Kansai International Art Festival held an evocative exhibition titled “Street 3.0: Where is the Street?” Graffiti, art perfumeries and experimental calligraphy are among the many thought-provoking works presented by artists challenging expectations and seeking new paths of expression. Ticket proceeds from January were donated to Noto Peninsula Earthquake relief efforts.

Cozy displays of candles, sound and light will be traveling to different cafes and bars in Japan, fundraising with goods such as wax flower lanterns and postcards with butterfly and tulip designs. Beginning with Namio Coffee in Ome in February, and moving on to Yokohama Dunk on March 1, lighting designer Satsuki Morishima hopes to illuminate the world.

Even in his absence, legendary wrestler Antonio Inoki is raising money to support recovery efforts. Treasured childhood photographs, handwritten calligraphy and memorabilia from iconic battles was exhibited until February 25 at “Mark is Minatomirai” in Inoki’s hometown, Yokohama. Admission to the exhibition is free, but all proceeds from “fighting spirit” merchandise will be donated in spirit of Inoki's lifelong commitment to social contribution.

Charity concerts

Above: Sakushin Gakuin Concert.

Hula dancers, cheerleaders, youth brass bands, taiko (Japanese drum) groups and singer-songwriters came together to give a concert at Takanova near Matsumoto Castle. Music, food and a surprise appearance from Shishibarion, Matsumoto's local superhero, uplifted spirits and helped earn money for disaster relief.

“Prayer, peace, courage” and music emanated from Ishikawa’s concert hall, Ishikawa Ongakudo. Although the earthquake had caused some damage to the hall, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa held a charity concert on February 6, presenting a soul-stirring selection of compositions by Bach, Haydn and Beethoven.

Seeking to resume musical activities for students and reawaken the joy of music in devastated regions, a concert at Kai Seiwa High School Memorial Hall was held on February 17. Junior high and high school groups, including brass bands and choirs, expressed their feelings through music and touched the hearts of those suffering. Donations were made via the All Japan Brass Band Federation.

The essence of Edo and centuries-old song resonated through Tonenumatabunka Hall in Numata City, Gunma Prefecture. Kineya Chizuru and Katsura Kosumi performed nagauta, a traditional Japanese musical style used in kabuki theater, as well as modern music and original compositions sung with shamisen (a three-stringed instrument), shakuhachi (a bamboo flute) and piano.

The thunderous beats of taiko resounded through Konosu on February 25. Groups such as Hono-O-Daiko, an all-female Japanese drum performance team, brought the community together through powerful rhythms and compassion. Admission to Claire Konosu Hall was free, and donations were encouraged to support Ishikawa taiko groups that are in need.

A violin crafted from the driftwood of houses destroyed in the Great East Japan Earthquake will be played at a charity concert in Karuizawa Ohga Hall on March 10. Among the performers will be Kimiko Nakazawa, wife of Muneyuki Nakazawa, the creator of this heartfelt instrument and the Tsunami Violin Project. This concert was originally scheduled to raise funds for the Great East Japan Earthquake, but was unanimously changed to support Noto Peninsula.

Featuring high-level performances from top big bands of the 54th competition, the Yamano Big Band Jazz Contest will use the power of jazz to unite communities and heal through music. On March 15 and 19, the music charge fee and collected donations at Jazz Dining B-flat in Akasaka will be donated through the Kanazawa Jazz Federation.

The Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall will set the stage for a remarkable charity concert on March 24, featuring piano virtuoso and composer Shinya Kiyozuka, along with other performers yet to be announced. Organized by Universal Music Japan, this concert pledges all proceeds to the Noto Peninsula Earthquake Relief Fund.

This is just a small glimpse into the many people, places and events offering support through the arts in Japan and across the world.

Aside from donation boxes stationed at the Ishikawa government office and its branches in Tokyo, Osaka and Komatsu, some cultural institutions have introduced donations, including the Tokyo National Museum, Suntory Hall, Sumida Triphony Hall and National Crafts Museum in Kanazawa.

In New York City, 180 people gathered to watch shakuhachi players, taiko drummers and dancers perform their hearts out. Broadway actor Yusui Minami from Ishikawa Prefecture also made an appearance. The NYC charity concert and weekly collections helped raise over $20,000 (about ¥3 million) with the help of the New York Japanese American Lions Club.

Following a disaster, art is not an immediate material need. Yet art, in every sense of the word, helps us see that beauty continues to exist in the world.

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© Japan Today

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1 Comment
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collecting money for survivors is a great idea.

but if you want help the survivors to recover psychologically I feel like nothing could do better than psychological drama play. they need to process the grief of losing family members, pets and houses, and Im not sure if just a concert or exhibition could ease that pain effectively.

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