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  • 2011.06.18 Saturday
  • 03:10
1)Sebastian from Harajuku's 6%DOKIDOKI writes in English about visiting the tsunami-hit areas of Japan.

MIGHTY HARAJUKU special column
"Visiting the victimized areas"

Please check it...!

#1 "I'm going to the victimized areas."

The reality I saw at first-hand

The Volunteer center

2)MIGHTY HARAJUKU PROJECT has become a project officially recognized as the Harajuku Jingumae distric

It was very worthwhile for me to speak to people on a personal level after the disaster.
Although I got the support of people from 28 different countries, it took an a lot of time for me to organize everything in Japan.
When I think about it, I took part in district meetings and got support there, and then did a speech in front of the head of ward of Shibuya and head of the local police force.
I continued empathize the durability of this project while doing more meetings. I took steady steps with my effort.

People may wonder why I am so passionate about this project.
It's simply because I don't want to lose the Harajuku that people admire to a disaster like this!
This is simply what we have now, but I succeeded in taking this project to another level.
I am going to take one step away from the project, but I pray that it becomes bigger and puts enthusiasm into Harajuku.
From here, we will be able to observe events started by the younger generation, such as flea markets and fashion work.
When that happens, I want everyone to come to Harajuku!

I will update any information here.
Please keep supporting us!
We vow to Mighty Harajuku!

MIGHTY HARAJUKU column「Visiting the victimized areas #3」 #m_harajuku

  • 2011.06.12 Sunday
  • 15:04

MIGHTY HARAJUKU special column

"Visiting the victimized areas"

3) The Volunteer center

It is difficult for an average person to do large-scale volunteer activities, like the ones that celebrities sponsor, and are shown on TV every day. 
We have our own lives, and the reality is, that there is a limit to what we can do. 

I wondered if there was anything I could do to help, and headed to the volunteer center, located in Minamisanriku-cho. 

I was surprised at how organized the system for accepting volunteers was when I got there. 

As you get to the reception desk, you enroll in an insurance (all you have to do is write your name), and right after that you are assigned to a task.
So as long as you have the willingness to do so, you could easily go there and help out, even if it is only for a few hours.
There were people who came as teams, people who stayed there for a longer period of time, and people like us, who came to help out for the weekend.  There were about 300 people who came that day to do volunteer work. 

We were expecting to help out with removing rubble, so we were dressed appropriately for that task. However, we were given the position of "Finding Memories corp"; our job was to clean photographs and albums found in the rubble, and return them to their respective owners. 

This activity was started by the town mayor, who had lost all his albums and memories after being a victim of the tsunami that happened during the great Chili earthquake.
He did not want any more people to be victimized in such way. 

Huge albums covered in dirt, stretched out photographs, photo stickers(PURIKURA)… Time has passed since the earthquake, yet numerous soaking wet photographs were brought in front of the volunteer staff.  

We pick up a stack of these photos, and using various equipment such as paint brushes, tooth brushes and sponges, we begin removing dirt from them. When opening up the albums and opening the pages sealed together with sea water, a strong stench of salt and sludge comes from the them.  

When cleaning the albums one by one, I begin feeling as if I am getting closer to the owner's life.
A album documenting a baby's growth,
a photo of a father when he was young,
albums containing photos from weddings and family,
an album full of photos from a trip grandma had with her friends,
albums packed with photos of a pet cat…  

I try to put as much care as I can when doing this.
One of my staff members that had come with me quietly said;

"Isn't this is similar to what we do at 6%DOKIDOKI?"

The task that we were given were not obvious jobs that helped recovery such as removing rubble, but supporting important things like "memories".
When you think about it, items from 6%DOKIDOKI are not physically necessary for someone to live. 
However, the feelings people hold against the items sometimes save them, and make them happy.

I almost felt as if I was destined to get this task.
I wanted as many photos to return to their owners… 

When I was leaving the volunteer center, I decided to ask if I could directly hand the donations had collected all over the world to someone.
I was originally thinking of donating the money to Red Cross Japan, but I thought that it was a better idea to directly give the money to someone so I could see where the money was actually going, and what it was going to be used for.
I decided that I was going to deliver the donations directly to the locals. 

Fortunately I was able to meet someone from the public office, so I handed the donations I had collected during our west coast tour, 23356 Japanese yen. (I collected the donations in dollars so it may seem a little lower than what I had collected…)

The staff of the volunteer center kept bowing down and told us "Thank for coming from os far away!" 

This is a letter that was sent to us later on. A very courteous thank you note.  I am deeply touched when remembering about the site. 

After looking at the victimized sites, I started thinking, Now what do we need for recovery?

Fortunately, Tokyo was not affected too badly.
What is the thing we can do to step in a little deeper into the situation? 

On simple terms, there are a number of things that can be simply be solved by man power. The effect of man power, in other words, can help recover the victimized areas sooner as long as there are more and more people helping out. I believe that one of the ways of helping is by going to the site, and helping literally helping out with your own body. 

The reality is still going to continue.
It is going to continue for a very long time. 

There are problems with the nuclear power plants,  and I cannot irresponsibly tell people to go to the site. And I don't want anyone to go half-heartedly, or go there just to be curious bystanders.  

However, through this experience I did notice that what we can do is not to waste time, and becoming hysterical looking at news shows and informations coming from the internet. There are ways to be more productive and efficient, even for yourself. 

I hope that my report becomes useful for someone who is ready to take the next step. 
I myself intend to think about what I can do from here, now, as well…

ーSebastian Masudaー

MIGHTY HARAJUKU column「Visiting the victimized areas #2」 #m_harajuku

  • 2011.06.08 Wednesday
  • 23:54

MIGHTY HARAJUKU special column

"Visiting the victimized areas"

2)The reality I saw at first-hand

After taking the local train from Sendai, we finally arrived at Kisennuma-station, which had finally recovered from the disasters.
From there, we took a taxi (which had also just recovered) to Shizugawa to get to Minamisanriku-cho.

The purpose was to see the site, and to take part in volunteer activities, so I could be some help to the local people. The taxi driver was born and raised here, and was an older gentleman who was familiar with Minamisanriku-cho.

 He told me;  "I'll explain what is going on in this town until we get to the site. As closer as we get there, you're not going to be able to believe in the scenery you see. I'll drive a little slowly so you can take pictures." 

The driver usually drove around a lot of journalists and photographers, and knew how important it was to "convey" messages. I could only do a little, but since i do have some influence on people, I was one of the people in charge of "conveying" a message. 
The things that the local people told me encouraged me a great deal. 

From here, I would like to show the photographs I took with things that the taxi driver told me as a supplement. 

However, I would like people to understand that photographs are only show a part of the reality, and this is what is happening 2 months after the initial disaster.  Photos cannot show everything.

We drove through a road alongside the ocean to Shizugawa.

The road is very close to the ocean. The roads are nice and clean, but the houses on the sides of the road were still rubble.   
There are some buildings that haven't been torn down, but you could easily see that there is a great amount of damage. Even areas not close to the ocean, people are getting affected by tsunamis that happen from the water from rivers.

I sometimes see "OK" written in front of the buildings. (I wonder if this means that this building has already been researched) 

Here, the whole village has disappeared. 

You can see that here, a bridge in the distance, has fallen down. When you look carefully, you can see that there is a house on top of the bridge as well. 

I arrived to Minamisanriku-cho, and around Shizugawa station. I got off the taxi, and started walking.

Quite frankly, I had no words.
Everything was worse than what I had expected.

In front of Shizugawa station.

This building has turned upside-down.

The platform of Shizugawa station.


This is the scenery seen from the platform.
I can see the turned-over building from here.


A hospital.

You can see that there is a ship on top of the building.

In front of the government office in charge of disaster countermeasures, I saw paper cranes, national flags, flowers and incense. 
I joined my hands in prayer using prayer beads that my mother had given me. 

I don't know how many times I sighed. 

Words are empty. 

After this, we headed to the volunteer center.
As I got off of the taxi, the driver told me
"Thank you for coming to help out from so far away. I will definitely pay back for this some how…" and bowed down. 

All I could do was to say in a brighter tone,
 "I'll come back as a tourist, to enjoy some delicious fish!"

MIGHTY HARAJUKU column「Visiting the victimized areas #1」 #m_harajuku

  • 2011.06.08 Wednesday
  • 05:40

MIGHTY HARAJUKU special column

"Visiting the victimized areas"

Every day, there are news reports on the victimized areas of the earthquake/tsunami disaster.
I believe that with the help of everyone,  we, in Harajuku, are facing this unprecedented disaster in a way only we can.
However, after 2 months passed from the initial quakes, I began rethinking what we can do from Harajuku; we are so far from the victimized areas.

That made me think that not only as someone who started the MIGHTY HARAJUKU PROJECT, but as one Japanese person, I began to think that it was necessary for me to know the truth about what was going on in my own country. This made me not able to stay still.

1) "I'm going to the victimized areas."

The weekend of May 14/15th. I traveled  300km away from Tokyo to Minamisanriku-cho, one of the most affected areas of the Northeastern-Japan earthquake/tsunami disaster.

"I'm going to the victimized areas."
The first time I said this to my staff was actually March 12th, right after the disaster had occurred.

I wanted to see, and verify what had happened to Japan with my own eyes, and not through the TV screen. I also thought that it was my job to see what was happening, and to inform people of the reality.However, I started to calm down as I continued to speak to my staff; I noticed that this urge was very egotistical of me.

If I went now, I have nothing to offer.If I did go, I would just be wandering in the rubble, and I might ask for help from others, and just cause more trouble in the end.It was saddening, but that was the truth.

Then, isn't there anything I can do from where I am?

I thought and thought and thought.
The result was "MIGHTY HARAJUKU PROJECT"; where I could share the rebuilding and development of Harajuku after the disaster.

MIGHTY HARAJUKU PROJECT began to spread worldwide, and got attention from several media outlets. During the tour we did in America (West-coast), we were able to collect donations, and a lot of people were cheering Japan on.

As I was away from Japan for 2 weeks, I was able to reflect on what position I was placed, and the reality of Japan in a more calm manner.

The last city I visited during the tour was New York.I actually visited Ground Zero at the end of the year when the 9.11 Terrorist attacks occurred.
The gouged out remains of the World Trade Center, and the bare subway station.I did not expect a bigger disaster to happen in Japan.

 "I really do need to make sure about the reality of my own country with my own eyes."

Previously, when I held an event called "Kawaii will save the world!", I visited Cambodia.
This was because I decided to donate 20 yen out of the 500yen entrance fee for vaccinations for children all over the world.
It might be only 20yen, but if I am receiving this money from the customers of the event, I could not feel comfortable unless I made sure that the money was being used for vaccinations. It was a simple reason like that.

However, it is highly difficult for us, the general public, to observe facilities of Non-Profit Organizations.
I started becoming worked up, so I took a video camera to Cambodia, and negotiated with the local people to see the facilities.
 Miraculously, I was able to find the storehouse that kept all the vaccinations purchased by the donations.
"These are the vaccinations being purchased with your money!"I showed the video that I had just shot at the event, and held the vaccination in my hand and shared the experience with the audience.

As a result of this, half an year later, I was invited to a tour of inspection aboard; this was recognized officially by the government of Myanmar.
I went to Myanmar right after the cyclone disaster. This time, I actually took the vaccinations from the storehouse to the various places that were doing the vaccinations, and was allowed to medicate the children myself.

And now, the north-eastern Japanese disaster.

As someone who started a charity group, a lot of people have cooperated with me, collected donations with me, and proved the power of Japanese culture. Yet, why was I still not able to see the state of the affected area?On top of that, this is happening in my own country.

This made no sense to me.

"I'm going to the victimized areas."

I said this to my staff in the same manner as I did right after the disaster.This time, I had found out that the transportation system to the victimized areas had been recovered.

After a silence, my staff told me
"Let's go"
"If anything, we have to go."

May 12th, exactly 2 months after my first "I'm going to the victimized areas."
I decided to go to the victimized areas.  


  • 2011.05.27 Friday
  • 19:43
こんにちは、Sebastian's STAFF Kです。



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