In 2015 KASA affiliates learned of how a small group of survivors evacuated to a coastal town after their homes were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. The group climbed to higher ground driven by survival and a will to locate displaced family members.
This story of survival, hope, and making an impact resonated with us. A few local community members joined together around a warm fire just beyond a gov. temporary housing building. Then something amazing happened, a musician named Mr. Yamazaki asked the group to raise their voices in song to unite one another and thus the choir group named Utakkonokai was forged out of the chaos of the tragic events of March 11th.
The stories of this choir signing in small venues around the Kamaishi area connected with KASA's mission of sharing culture through the arts. These small yet meaningful acts of kindness by Mr. Yamazaki and his singing group continue to inspire us.
Join us in supporting this local community choir in Japan.
Utakkonokai choir interview:
Interviewer: How has the group positively affected the local community? Mr. Yamazaki: "Through music, we heal our mind and are able to feel it together." Interviewer: What does your name "Utakkonokai" represent?
Mr. Yamazaki: "After the disaster, it is a fact that possessions cannot satisfy our soul; music is for people who are content, but also for people who are heartbroken." Interviewer: Why is singing important to you? Mr. Yamazaki: "Expressing our feelings, sometimes crying together & holding each other... We keep on moving forward... that's important.
Interview of members: Atsuko Takeuchi, Kentsu Tanaka, Sato Yoshida, Saho Ogasawara, Teyo Hoshiba, Tomi Koyoma
Interviewer: Why is singing important to you? Atsuko: "I love singing! Our piano, choir, everything was gone. We are living in the shelter, but we get together and sing; it makes me feel great, gives us encouragement in this way, we get our strength back. The shelter is small, not able to sing loud. We come here to sing along with the piano. It is wonderful." Statements from other members: "It is fun to sign. Using my voice loudly soothes my mind." , "We get scared, sad and lonely we lost our connection. When I was asked to join the choir, I felt happiness and joy."
Interviewer: How did your time with Utakkonokai begin? Kentsu: "There was a choir prior to 3/11. People who are at the shelters not able to sing or talk loud. We went to see Yamazaki sensei and his wife had a piano, so we began a new choir."
Interviewer: What does singing mean to you? Kentsu: "Singing loud from the bottom of the stomach makes me feel good. Singing makes us feel pleasant and energetic.
- Hana wa Saku (Flowers Will Bloom), Utakkonokai choir
Thank you for your support.
"A culture of Kindness."