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Artists' network works together for quake relief

To some foreigners who stayed, those who left Tokyo after the March 11 earthquake committed a cardinal sin, worthy of the disparaging epithet "flyjin."
Yet when couple Ai Kurahashi and Sebastian Mayer left for Phuket, Thailand, and their friend Naoko Maeda headed to Osaka, such criticisms were the last thing on their minds. Kurahashi and Maeda had spent several days translating Japanese news for English speakers in Tokyo, while Mayer had been planning to sell artworks to raise money for the cause.

Please visit and check "Tomodachi Calling CHARITY WEB-SHOP".
Tomodachi Calling CHARITY WEB-SHOP

What they then did from their new locations challenged the boundaries between "stayers" and "leavers" that others have stressed as so important: they started calling friends all over the world to try to help the victims of the disaster.
There was an overwhelming response. Within a week, an international group of artists and designers had come together to create an online store selling merchandise decorated with unique designs to raise money for the relief effort.

Also visit Blog "Tomodachi Calling Blog" and Japanese Red Cross Society.

The site, called "Tomodachi Calling," uses the Japanese word for "friend" to emphasize the close personal relationships that helped make it possible.
"Basically, everyone's a tomodachi of ours, or a tomodachi of a tomodachi," Kurahashi explains.
"Some of the contributors had exhibitions or concerts in Japan, and they learned to love Japanese people--now they want to give something back," says Mayer.
In the first week, the trio were inundated with offers of help.

("早くまた、明るい日本に戻りますように!"/"I wish that peace would be back in Japan very soon.")

"Everyone responded really quickly, saying, 'I can make the web shop,' 'I can do the sales,' or 'I can design the logo,'" says Kurahashi.
Eight days later, thanks to a hard-working team including web designers in Berlin, a translator in Zurich, a photographer in Phuket and supporters in Tokyo and Osaka, the website was online.
"Every time we wanted to change something, it was done almost before we said so," Kurahashi says. "Our web designer was working like a ninja!"

("身近な紙をつかってデザインしました。少しでも早く、被災された方々に穏やかな日常が戻りますように。"/"I made this design using paper close to hand. I hope that the people that experienced the disaster can go back to leading normal peaceful lives as soon as possible.")

While the website was being built, the trio asked artists, graphic designers and musicians they knew to contribute designs to be printed on high-quality T-shirts, eco-friendly bags, buttons, mugs and even babysuits. The artwork submitted included photographs, drawings, abstract graphics and handwritten poems.
Anxious to avoid putting stress on Japan's infrastructure, the group decided to use U.S.-based company Cafe Press to print and ship the merchandise.
Tomodachi Calling has so far raised $3,000 for the Japanese Red Cross.

By TS on Apr 30, 2011
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tag : Cool Japan, Earthquake



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Author:T. SATOH