Within the Nikkei community in America, there is a long tradition of supporting the people of Japan when they have needed it most. After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, our first generation Issei organized a fund campaign among Japanese in America and sent thousands of dollars to Japan to assist with the rebuilding and recovery effort. When Japan was devastated and the people were left with nothing after WWII, Issei and Nisei here in America sent box after box - care packages filled with food, clothing, and medicine - for family and friends for years after the war.
After the 2011 triple disaster in Tohoku, Japanese Americans raised millions of dollars and sent it to the Tohoku region to help the people rebuild and restart their lives again. This tradition of empathy, caring, and compassion is part fo who we are as Japanese Americans. Since the disaster, Grateful Crane has participated in fundraising and recovery efforts to assist the Tohoku people in their ongoing recovery. In 2011, Grateful Crane performed in a Japanese American community disaster relief concert which raised funds to replace musical instruments for schools in Ofunato, and in May 2011, we also produced a concert of our own to raise funds for Tohoku disaster assistance and relief.
In 2014 and 2016, Grateful Crane, thanks to the support of the Japanese American community, completed two goodwill tours to Tohoku, where we sang songs of hope and inspiration for tsunami survivors in the hardest hit areas. Along with the singing of nostalgic and favorite songs to lift their spirits, we have also raised funds for a playground playset for a local park in Ishinomaki (2014) and provided a one-year supply of safe, clean bottled water for children and families in Fukushima (2016), and have continued to support this project ever since.
Thanks once again to the generous support of our community, Grateful Crane will be going on our third goodwill tour to Tohoku in September, 2018. On this tour, we will be going to places where the people are still in need of emotional support, encouragement, and friendship from overseas. Our message to them is this: "You have friends in America, and we have not forgotton you." Concert tour stops include schools (kindergartens in Fukushima), temporary housing communities (Fukushima), a nursing home (Minamisanriku/Miyagi-ken), a chidlren's home (Ofunato/Iwate-ken), an arboretum (Ichinoseki/Iwate-ken), and a day care center (Ishinomaki/Miyagi-ken) for seniors and people with special needs.
The lasting emotional impact of our trips was perhaps best communicated by a couple of residents who saw our performance at a Fukushima temporary housing community two years ago. "I am very thankful for these people who came all the way from the United States just for us," said one woman resident. "Due to language differences," added a male resident, "We can't communicate our thoughts to each other, but our hearts became connected. I feel very close to them. I feel happy and supported. I was happy because they were happy. They were happy because we were happy."