Thursday, March 6, 2014


Sunday March 16th 1:30 ~ 5:30pm

We Care ~ You are not Forgotten!!
As we commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and
nuclear disasters that hit Japan on 3/11/11, let's continue to wish the best for those
who are still struggling without homes, jobs and basic human needs. 
Let's doeverything we can to relieve their pain and suffering..

Many Activities for all ages:
Charity Shiatsu and Chair Massage
Make Cards and Dolls
Play Charitx, the board game!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Three Years After ~ Sending Love and Hope for a Bright Future

“Unbelievable things are going on in broad daylight”

from blog “The Reality of Fukushima” by Momoko Fukuoka

People who have read my blog, after learning about the real situation of Fukushima, often said, “This is unbelievable! Japanese government and Toden (Tokyo Electric Co.) must be taking care of this. It has been 3 years. Why don’t they move to safe areas? They should be able to find jobs somewhere. What happened to all donations we sent? Aren’t they distributed to the victims of the earthquake? It is unthinkable that they still need foods and daily essentials!”

This is an understandable reaction for people with common senses. It has been 3 years after all! However, in reality, there are unbelievable things that are going on in broad daylight.

First, all the money came in went to the government (according to Japan Red Cross Society). The government distributed the money to municipal governments of cities, towns and villages, and instructed them to use it for infrastructure repairs and decontamination. None went to the victims of the disaster directly.  A few expressed the disappointment. They said, “We wanted even a little as an expression of sympathy. But there was nothing. It wasn’t the amount. We wanted the intention.”

Why don’t they move to the safe area? It is because there is no money for them to move. Before they settled down to temporary housings, they already had to move 7, 8 times. People affected by Fukushima nuclear reactor used to think that the government would create a safe place for them to move, for they may not go back to their home. The government would compensate for their lost homes. They could start their new life in a new home with their families and friends and rebuild new community…

However, the reality was so different. There was no compensation for their lost properties. There was no plan for their new homes. Families and communities were separated. Even young couples were separated to look for jobs. The victims of Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster have even lost the basic human rights because of the contamination. They lost everything: safe living condition, basic human needs (foods, clothes and shelters), family connections, education for children (schools & kindergartens), health (radiation), jobs, marriages, hopes for the future, bank savings, their properties… What left is the uncertainty of future, fear of illness, loss of hope and despair.

Even now, the government and Toden are sending people back to areas with unsafe radiation levels. Their goal is to “send the victims home.” They are spending enormous amount of money for decontaminations. 

Because their goal is to “decontaminate and send them home,” there is no housing construction for the disaster victims. There is no compensation for the lost properties. There is no support of moving expenses. Furthermore, for the people who live outside the 20km radius of affected area and areas that was revoked of refugee area status, their monthly compensations of 100,000 yen (about 1000 USD) from Toden were stopped. They have no income. In addition, they are asked to pay tax and they have to pay the medical expenses. The rent of housing is covered up to the third location, but after that they have to pay their own rent. Many that were affected by Fukushima nuclear plant disaster were famers and before the disaster there weren’t much food expenses. Now they have to pay for food.

People who lost the monthly compensations from Toden have lost the lifelines. The elderly who receives the government pension receive about 40,000 yen (about 400 USD) a month. After paying electricity, heat, gas and phone bills, there is nothing left. Even people over 70 years old are joining decontamination work. They say that is the only way to survive. After evacuating the radiation area, they are going back to expose to radiation. They will get 10,000 yen (about 100 USD) a day as a danger fee. They can only get physical once in every few months. They cannot even see the result themselves. They are just told, “The radiation is below the dangerous amount, so you are safe.” They are used to it now and the sense of danger is wearing thin.

“The Voices of Disaster Victims”

People who found the government’s reaction absurd say:

“Before spending money on the decontamination effort, they should invest on rebuilding the disaster victims lives. We are not looking for extra compensations. We just want to live like before. We want to live like ordinary people.”

“After many decontamination attempts, there are areas registering higher radiation levels. There is no infrastructure. No hospital. Not even a shop. The houses are infested by rats and there are wild boars roaming the town. How can we go back to the places like these.”

“There are places in South Soma city where nothing has done after the 3/11 disasters. Even at the temporary housing, the radiation is 0.3 μSv. However, they are saying that by April 2016, they will announce that all residents can return home. Outrageous.”

“The government contacted the disaster victims directly without going through the mayors of cities, towns and villages and said, “You can go back home from December 24th to January 6th at your own risks. I didn’t go back because I know the danger of radiations. But the others in my community went back.”

“Aren’t we the victims and is Toden responsible for the disaster? Why are our demands not accepted and do we have to accept the unreasonable demands of Toden?”

The elderly victims now say, “I want to die in my own home in my hometown.” Living in the small temporary housings is stressful and their patience is wearing thin. Without a long-term plan from the government, separated from their families, the elderlies feel lonely and they long for their homes. They wish the decontamination would progress faster, so they can go home as soon as possible.

The victims of Fukushima disaster are getting taciturn.
“We don’t want to think about the hardship. We don’t want remember the disaster. That is why we don't talk about the nuclear plant. We don’t want to talk about our recollections of disaster. There is no sense of hope, so we don’t want to talk about the future and compensations. Just thinking about it makes our hearts heavy. Please don’t talk to us about that.”

Even mentioning those issues will bring out dark painful silence and uncomfortable groan among them.

One leader of neighborhood community council said, “Before, we were bright with hope to rebuild our community. Now, everyone is looking down. They were healthy and hardworking people, but now they are sick and cannot even walk. They stopped talking. They became silent.”

The victims of Fukushima disasters also have to endure the cold stares. Because the media doesn’t report the reality of what is happening in Fukushima, there are vast misunderstandings among people: “Aren’t they receiving the money from the government and Toden?” “How long do they have to depend on the others?” “You are lazy.” “Find a job. (They don’t understand the fact there is no job to find)” “He is from Fukushima. (As if we are virus)”

Some young people say: “We may not be able to get married.” “We may not be able to have a child, because we are from Fukushima.”

“Please extend your understanding and compassion for the people of Fukushima”

Could you correctly understand the people of Fukushima? They have suffered and hurt. They witnessed too much sadness. And they are exhausted. Could you hold them with warmth and kindness? Could you give them a shoulder to cry on?

What they need now are people who understand them and friends who can take their hands and walk with them. Your loving kind gaze; your warm words and hands; that is what the people of Fukushima need right now. It becomes the hope for their lives.

If possible, please send us support. There may be people from Fukushima near you; in your neighborhood and in your community. Please help them. I wish from the depth of my heart that you can be an angel for those people.

Momoko Fukuoka

In affected areas in Fukushima, they are still in need of essential living supplies. I wish your kind support.  (Please donate goods that are new or in good condition.)

Bath Towels, Face Towels, Hand Towels, etc

Futon Covers, Zabuton (sitting cushion), Blankets, Sheets, Warm Sheets (Fleece, etc)

Clothes for elderly (Size L ~ 5L in Japanese sizes), Underwear, Socks

[Food Items]
Water, Rice, Spices, Vegetables, Fruits, Pre-packaged Foods, Dried Foods, Canned Foods, Green Tea, Snacks (please check the expiration dates)
Mochi (Japanese Rice Cake) (For Tohoku people, Mochi is very healing and energizing gift)

[Dispensable Items]
Toilet Paper, Tissue Paper, Pocket Tissue, Detergents, Shampoo, Conditioner, Saran Wrap, Garbage Bags, Instant Pocket Heater, Sanitary Masks, Female Sanitary Products, First Aid, Bug Spray, Rubber Gloves

Ball Point Pens, Pencils, Note Books, Memo Pads, File Folder, Post Cards, Letter Papers and Envelops, Postage Stamps

[Elderly and Infant]
Disposable Diapers, Adult Diapers, Pads for Urinary Incontinence

[Consumer Goods]
Sewing Machines, Irons, Ironing Boards, Humidifiers, Dehumidifiers, Fans, Electric Heaters, Futon Drier, Indoor Exercise Machines, Health Supplies, Medical Supplies, CD Players, DVD Players, Recreation Goods (Games, etc), Canes, Hobby Supplies (Knitting, Sewing, etc), Potable Bicycles, Wheel Chairs, Walkers, Flash Lights

[For Senior Group Home]
Rags [Old Towel, Old T-shirts, Old Sheets cut to 20cm x 20cm (about 8in x 8in)]

There are requests for the fund to run Temporary Housing Committees. 

I translated this blog with permission from the author, Momoko Fukuoka. After 3 years, the people who were affected by the earthquake in northern Japan are still suffering. They are losing hope.  Please read and send your love to those who are suffering, so they can hope for a bright future. With hope and love, we can overcome anything. We will send information soon about how to participate in fundraisers and send them support. 

~Gadu, Tao Sangha Madison 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ryokyu Endo's Post from September 2011: 3 Live shows !!!


For a while I had an idea about giving volunteer Shiatsu in the Touhoku area and also giving some live performances with the Sangha band, Lamani. And this plan manifested in a very interesting way. Let me explain: Firstly, Lamani registered to perform at Teizen-ji Jazz festival in Sendai City, and also at Dou-Gen-In in Ishino-maki city, through a friend of mine, Clive.  A journalist from the UK, Clive lives in Tokyo, and came for one of our live shows at Earth Garden, in Yoyogi,Tokyo.   He was so excited at the show, that he helped set up live performances for us in the Touhoku disaster areas.

Photo of Clive
Another live show we decided to do was at a live house in Karakuwa Town, which is where GUC has been supporting people in shelters since March 2011, sending washing machines, refrigerators, fresh vegetables and other things.  It is the place with which we have Go-En (An invisible connection, a karmic connection—in Buddhist terms). 

So here it was: our wish suddenly materialized into three live shows at three different places!

It took 12 hours for the band members to get here from Kyoto.  Next day, it took us 3 and a-half hours to get to Kesen-numa city, and we did volunteer Shiatsu all day long. It was great that everyone in the band could give volunteer Shiatsu treatments; how great it was….. But it was an intensive schedule.
We gave Shiatsu treatments till night had fallen, and then performed at the live house.  Then we moved to Ishino-maki city late into the night, and played again in the afternoon next day, finally going to Sendai with  lightning speed again.
We had decided, prior to the shows, that, if we all went together, we would not be able to have as much time for volunteer Shiatsu, so, we decided that I would just go to Ishino-maki alone first. This way, I ended up at a temporary residence in Ishino-maki, with people who were evacuated to a temple called Do-Gen-In following the tsunami and earthquake. I treated a few people including elderly people that the afternoon. They were happy, like the one who couldn’t bend his knee before the shiatsu treatment. By the way, Do- Gen-In is not that huge, but at some time, there were 400 people staying there! I wondered how it was possible!. It must have been intense. However, now, all of them had moved to temporary residences. Unfortunatel,y Ishino-maki city is still not recovered fully from the huge damage they experienced.
 After Ishinomaki, all six band members, left toward Karakuwa town, spread into 2 teams, and gave Shiatsu treatments for the whole day at 2 locations. A leader of one of the residences kindly suggested to us to take a break sometimes, but we actually couldn’t take any.  Below is a picture of a girl who goes to kindergarten there.  She had asked for a treatment for her dislocated joint.  Her name is Kokoro (meaning  ‘heart’). After the treatment, I told her to take it easy for a few days, but right away she started enjoying riding her bike, saying, “I’m Cured !”

 Miss. Kokoro after treatment showing her leg

On the 3rd day, we did volunteer Shiatsu till the sun went down, and then a performance at a live house.
The young 17 year old boy sitting in a wheel chair in front, is called Yuta. He is the son of the owner of the live house, and he is a strict critic for performers here, but it turned out we passed his test. The place rocked, and we were asked for an encore!

As a matter of fact, I don’t really know what is going on around me when I am playing music. I guess because I concentrate so deeply to my inner self, just like a Nembutsu practitioner who is really ‘into his wishes and prayers’. 
We took off after performing and supper to Ishino-maki city, arrived at this hotel around 11:30pm. Most of Ishino-maki’s hotel have not yet recovered fully since the disaster, and the hotel we stayed in was no exception, as the bathrooms didn’t work. We had to go to a park nearby to use the bathrooms there, but having a bed and roof is better than no bed and roof, so we couldn’t complain!
I called Mr. Onozaki, the head priest of Dou-Gen-In Temple, in Ishino-maki city. Do-gen-In used to be a shelter and there were 400 refugees staying there at one point. Today, Sep/11, exactly 6 months after the disaster, there was a special ceremony at the Temple.  Mr. Onozaki asked me to do a memorial performance before the ceremony.

I had heard about this Temple as it is well known through the mass media. The whole event and ceremony was broadcasted on National TV. We first started to set up in the morning, and began to play with an indescribable heartrending feeling. I could feel the music was penetrating to people’s hearts. There apparently were some elderly people who could not hold back their tears. After performing, an organization from Taiwan that was delivering their fundraised money to the area asked me for a meeting, and they told me the performance was excellent and they asked us to play again when they organized another memorial ceremony for the whole Touhoku area.
We took off again, to the next place, Sendai. We had another performance. People from the Temple saw us off with a song from a famous Japanese singer. I mentioned that we feel sorry for not attending the ceremony, and then they told us kindly our performance was good enough for that.   I had a little worry whether we can be on time for next performance, but it went well also, and we felt people were happy with the performance.
We had some comments like “I’ve never heard songs like this!” and “Somehow it <the music> penetrates into my heart”.  It was many hard days and nights, but I really think it was right to continue this way and also if we, as a band of a Pure Land Temple can transmit Buddha’s wishes through our performances, it would be so much appreciated.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reports from June ~ October 2011…..

Kesen-numa now: June ~ October 2011…..
I would like to inform everyone of our on-going support to Kesen-numa Elementary and Secondary School shelters.
<June 2011>
After 3 months, the food condition of both schools shelters ws still not good enough, with a constant lack of vegetables. A welfare commissioner, Ms. Ono who had evacuated to Kesen-numa Secondary School shelter told me most of the food we had was stuffed bread, and/or instant food and only occasionally could have boiled radish and carrots from the beginning of May. “Until Tao Sangha began supporting here, we’ve never seen a whole tomato…. “
I also asked other people, and everyone expressed wanting to have some vegetables. So, GUC decided to send some vegetables regularly.

We were struggling to find a vege-supplier, but finally found ‘Tsukiji Sanchoku farm”, a whole seller in Tokyo Tsukiji market, and they thankfully promised us to not make any profits for this event.
That was the beginning.
The first delivery arrived, and everybody, included volunteers from all over the country helped to make 200 salads. We couldn’t use the kitchen, therefore we made them outside, in a little field in front of school building. It was hot, and salads easily get damaged, so, they were moving to the shade under the trees, and the whole process took about 3 hours. “ It was only a small portion for each person, but everyone was really grateful, and so happy to have even that.”--- comment from somebody staying in the shelter.

<August 2011>
We sent 2nd, 3rd deliveries, but the city complained to Ms. Ono, saying “ Making salads outside is not safe and you are taking a chance to get food poisoning.  Are you going to take responsibility if that happens? “ It was an unpredictable action from city.
Ms. Ono had tears in her eyes, but we had to stop sending the vegetables, because no one could take responsibility.  However, we could send root vegetables, and Ms.Ono shared them with everyone in the school shelter.  Another obstacle we were faced with was that of course, there was no cooking equipment available at the school.   Well, when some people with relatives in temporary homes would go there to take a bath, they would take some vegetables with them and cooked them there. In this way, the vegetables were shared with people in temporary homes as well as the shelters.

There were 500 people living in this school shelter at the peak period. Now, the number is down to two digits. Ms.Ono also decided to move to a temporary home finally even though she was not really happy about the decision. She said that she had to make a compromise, because those homes are built in an isolated area (especially hers is built in a valley), and some people even refuse to move there. The city asked her to move in because she‘s never been lucky in the draw so far. She had refused many times till now, but her health has been failing, ---she lost 25lb---, and finally she felt it maybe better to move there.

It has been a month since Ms. Ono moved into a temporary home, an area with another 56 people living there. It is a very isolated area.  For example, the nearest bus stop is a 20 minute walk away, and the road is too narrow, so she thinks no snow remover will be able to get in. So, she is negotiating with the city to have some snow removal supplies.
While visiting every home in the area door to door, she also realized that the majority of the people there are elderly.
She noticed the increase of depression and dementia among those elderly living alone. No wonder! They lost everything that meant anything to them, and with no hope for their future, they just spend day after day in this shelter, alone….

Then she was inspired by something. Her parents used to be tailors, and Ms. Ono can sew very well because she used to help her parents. And, she started to teach “patch work” using old Kimono to those elderly people in the area. It was from her ultimate wish that those people could regain a hope to live.
GUC also wishes her wish comes true, and asked to all of our members to donate any old Kimono, and then we sent them.
Also, she humbly asked us when I called her,“ If you don’t mind, please send one… maybe 3 sewing machines. Sorry for always asking, “ she said.
                                                                                                               Report : Shin Hasegawa