- Steve Sato, KASA founder
Inspiration from Morioka Japan
Updated: Dec 28, 2018
A feature article from the local paper, “The Iwate Nippo,” which appeared on Sep. 19, 2012
One Saturday morning, in the heat of late summer, the Charity Song for Northeastern Japan Reconstruction wafted through the open window of the Osanai Assemble Hall in Unosumaicho, Kamaishi City. Thirteen victims of the tsunami, who still live in temporary housing, could be heard cheerfully singing, as they put their whole heart into the song. The “Utakkonokai” project, begun in February of 2012, is a valuable opportunity for local people to unite in mind and soul.
Before the earthquake, there was a choral group that performed in the Unosumaicho region. Since its establishment twenty years ago, the members have enthusiastically sung for various occasions and competed in some competitions.
However, the group’s activities came to a halt due to the death of some of its members and their piano and meeting place being destroyed by the earthquake & tsunami. The former leader of the group recalls, “The temporary houses our members had to live in were all in different locations and due to depression some of us shut ourselves up in our homes, isolating ourselves from the devastation. We didn’t see each other for a long time.”
One of the members, Ms. Tanaka wanted the group to resume singing because she felt it would cheer the community up hearing the group singing from the heart. She consulted her friend, Mrs. Yamazaki about getting a piano. Mrs. Yamazaki managed to get a piano through a chiropractor Ms. Mitamura, who happened to be there as a volunteer from Ebina City, Kanagawa. The piano belonged to a classical ballet instructor living in the same city, who donated it.
The piano was delivered in January and soon a new singing group, “Utakkonokai” was formed. One of the members, Ms. Koyama said, “To recover from the disaster I think it’s necessary for us to get together regularly like this. Although we don’t have many optimistic topics to discuss, we would like to work together in our own small way towards a brighter future.”
For the time being, the group would like to just enjoy singing together rather than competing.
That sunny, summer Saturday morning the group sang a Japanese children song, “Zuizuizukkorobashi”, in the end and cheerful laughter filled the air.
One of the members, Ms. Yoshida said, “The more often we gather together and sing the more smiling faces we see among us. We are having a great time.”