Congratulations to Fujinosono Children’s Shelter


Congratulations to Ichinoseki Fujinosono Children’s Shelter. They will open their new, children’s home this summer to house approximately 50 children. The original home was damaged in the March 11, 2011 earthquake that devastated the Tohoku region.

The home will be state-of-the-art and one of the most eco-friendly buildings in Japan, with solar, passive solar design, heating from bio-mass from the surrounding area. The building will also serve as a disaster center for the immediate area. Congratulations to Sister Caelina and to Sae Kani of Malteser International for raising monies and building the project.

A donation from the Tohoku Insights 2013 event was sent to Fujinoso. In addition, jazz musician, Akira Tana and his band Otonowa, made a donation from the proceeds of the new CD “Otonowa” that was featured at the Tohoku Insights 2013 event. Thank  you Akira.


Twilight Concert, April 27, 2013

On April 27, ZenPlay, the Edgewood Trio of (Beni Shinohara – violin, Margaret Moores – cello, and Marilyn Thompson – piano), and Himawari-kai co-hosted a fundraising concert in Tiburon, California.

Over 70 people came to celebrate beautiful music, friendship, food and wine in a true testament to the ZenPlay spirit: Play a little, give a lot.

We raised over $8000 in this event, and will send to Ichinoseki Fujinosono, over $6000 in donations (after expenses), to support over 40 children who live in the house. The children are looking forward to moving into their new home after having lived in temporary housing after the earthquake in 2011.

Video: Yuko Inatsuki

Fujinosono images: Steve Yamaguma

Kids Orchestra Japan Project

Just met Junko Suzuki Parsons and her friends at Mari Kawawa’s fundraiser “Twilight COncert on the Bay”, Saturday, April 27th, 2013 in Tiburon, CA, featuring the Edgewood Trio. Junko’s team is helping promote the Kids Orchestra Japan Project, an exchange program of youths in Japan and the U.S. collaborating with music. Their goal is to connect the kids in the affected areas in the Tohoku area of Japan to help them through these challenging times. Will be updating more about their progress.

“Friends helping Friends” Castilleja School’s Arts with a Heart – Friends Helping Friends

Friday Feb. 8
Saturday Feb 9
Sunday Feb 10

Don’t miss this moving performance of dance, song, poetry, and interviews from the heart at Castilleja School for the Arts in Palo Alto. Beautiful, artistic interpretations of the events that happened on March 11, 2011 in the Tohoku area of Japan, the students captured the sense of devastation, fear, and loneliness and how connecting as “friends” instilled a spirit of hope and optimism.

The addition of famed Oh-In Taiko and master drummer Jimi Nakagawa fueled the excitement and stirred the emotions.

And, the moments with the “special guests” touched the hearts of everyone in the audience. Gambate kudasai.

Congratulations to Georgi Shea, producer and all the students and performers of Castilleja School.

Wilcox High School Japanese class sings their best wishes to Tohoku

Upon hearing that I would be traveling to the Tohoku region of Japan to visit Soma Aiikuen Children’s Shelter in Soma City, and Ichinoseki Fujinosono Children’s Shelter in Ichinoseki, my son’s Japanese class decided to sing a Japanese song dedicated to the children in those shelters. Led by Ushimaru-sensei, the students sang, played the music, shot and edited the video.

The students in the Wilcox High School Japanese Class in Santa Clara California wishes all the best and hope to build friendships across the Pacific Ocean.

They did an excellent job, putting their heart and soul into the project.

Please enjoy.

One Year and Six Months. A trip to Tohoku

It’s been one year and six months since the tragic earthquake and tsunami that devastated regions of the Tohoku area, and six months since our “One Year After benefit concert took place in Fremont, California. We had the opportunity to connect with many dedicated people helping the displaced children through the Living Dreams organization. And now, next month I will have an opportunity to travel to the area to actually meet some of them in person.

It’s one thing to rally our community together to raise monies for the victims of a disaster. It is another thing completely to come face to face with their reality, as they struggle day to day to bring normalcy back into their lives. The people of Japan are resilient and hardworking and have made tremendous strides in rebuilding their lives and their cities. But the toll has been taken, as thousands of acres of farmland have been contaminated, lives lost, homes swept away, and families displaced. It will take years before the area once again thrives.

I am not sure what to expect as I make plans for my short trip to the area. I hope to bring a message of good will and support from the many in our community who worked hard to stage our fundraiser. And I hope to meet the people who through sheer perseverance have rebuilt their lives and their homes, keeping the light of hope shining for all to see.

We have a lot to learn from these people.

I will be updating my experiences along the way.

Steve Yamaguma

July 4, 2012, 1000 Cranes made it to Japan!

The 1000 Cranes created by the many volunteers for the “One Year After: Benefit Concert for the Children of Tohoku, Japan” on March 10, 2012, made its way over the Pacific Ocean and landed in Fukushima, Japan bringing our best wishes to the orphans in the Tohoku region. Please read this moving letter from Katherine Geeraert,  Home Communications Manager for Soma Children’s Home and founder of Friends of Soma.

P.S. This letter arrived on the Fourth of July!

TOMODACHI Summer 2012 SoftBank Leadership Program

SOFTBANK CORP. will provide Japanese high school students from the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami with an intensive three week program focusing on global leadership development and community service. This program will take place at the University of California, Berkeley.

This program will be administered by Ayusa International, a non-profit educational exchange organization established in San Francisco in 1980 that provides life-changing cultural exchange experiences for high school students around the world. Prior to departure, students and parents will participate in in-depth orientations, and students will engage in two days of intensive English language lessons delivered by native English speakers. Students will travel to the United States with Japanese chaperones, who will accompany and provide support throughout the program.

In collaboration with UC Berkeley, this program will provide a campus-based leadership program concentrated on developing powerful social advocates. Students will learn leadership skills, and develop volunteer community service projects to implement in their home communities when they return home. Along with acquiring the skills to lead, students will be exposed to inspiring role models and situations focused on motivating and equipping them to assume leadership roles upon returning home. The program will feature extensive contact with Americans through their academic program, a weekend homestay, social and sightseeing activities, along with exposure to American culture and values.

For additional information on this program, including application procedures, please click here (in Japanese).

Host a Japanese Student from Tohoku for a weekend this summer!

Hosting Dates: Friday, August 3-Sunday, August 5 (3 days)

Tomodachi Program

We are looking for families in the Bay Area to host Japanese high school students from Tohoku, the area afffected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.  The Tomodachi (Friendship in Japanese) Initiative is a public-private partnership supported by the US and Japanese governments that supports Japan’s recovery from the earthquake. Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program seeks to foster the next generation of Japanese and Americans, a “Tomodachi generation” of driven doers, thinkers and creators who are invested in the future of U.S.-Japan relations, appreciate each other’s cultures and countries, and possess the globally oriented skills and mindsets needed to thrive and make a difference. This summer, the Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program comes to the Bay Area!

Why Host?

  • Change the course of a young person’s life
  • Meet exceptional students from Japan
  • Build lifelong international friendships
  • Introduce your family to a new culture & language

Contact: Ayako Miyaguchi


Center for Cities & Schools
University of California, Berkeley

Somei Yoshino Taiko, at the One Year After benefit concert, March 10, 2012

somei taiko, music at the mission

Photo by Bob Hsiang

Naoko Amemiya of Somei Yoshino Taiko performs at the One Year After benefit concert for the children of Tohoku, Japan, March 10, 2012 at the Mission San Jose in Fremont, CA

The concert, raising monies for the Smiles & Dreams: Tohoku Kids’ Support Project, featured Somei Yoshino Taiko in collaboration with the Music at the Mission Chamber Players.

A powerful, moving performance set in the beautiful, historic Mission San Jose, the community rallied together to make this a moving, momentous occasion.