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The Japanese Speaking Community
Letters to Japan 
19th-Mar-2011 07:39 pm
devil cat
Yesterday, subscribers to the Tokyopop (a popular manga publisher) newsletter received a message from the founder regarding the situation in Japan. He is collecting letters, art, manga, and pictures to give to the Japanese students there who have lost their home as a way to show support. It's especially good if you are able to write in Japanese since they cannot read much English, so since this group is made up mostly of people who either know or are learning the language, I thought it would be a good idea to pass this on here. Of course, even if you can't write in Japanese, I'm sure your letters will be very much appreciated.

March 18, 2011 - Stu Levy

Hi everyone!

As you all know, Japan is going through a very challenging time. The 9.0 earthquake last week and the resulting tsunami caused significant damage to coastal towns throughout Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. The quake rattled and rocked us in Tokyo as well, resulting in food and gas shortages, electricity blackouts and transportation problems.

But the people north of Tokyo (in Miyagi and Iwate) have been living a nightmare. Over 400,000 victims have had their homes destroyed - and are now living in emergency shelters. Many have lost friends and family, as well as most of their worldly possessions.

This week I visited one of those shelters to deliver food, fuel and other provisions. The shelter is a junior high school in a harbor area of Sendai, Miyagi. The school (and neighborhood) is called Rikuzen-Takasago, shortened to TAKASAGO. There are over 1000 victims living in this shelter.

For the first few days after the earthquake, they had so little food that they had literally only one potato chip per person for the entire day. Two nights ago we prepared their first hot bowl of rice for them from the provisions we delivered. They still do not have electricity or heat, and when I was up there it was freezing cold and snowing. 30-80 people are scrunched into each classroom, sleeping on the floor with one or two blankets each. The victims are of all ages - and everyone is urgently cleaning the tsunami mud from the school so that disease doesn't spread.

Even in those circumstances, the victims are working hard as a team. They are cleaning together, cooking together, carrying the provisions, helping each other out - it's truly inspiring to see them fighting so hard to survive and overcome this tragedy.

What really stood out to me the most was the energy and spirit of the Takasago students. When we were building an outdoor cooking facility, they all labored on various tasks we assigned them - sweeping, washing, carrying gas tanks, laying down temporary flooring, and more. We worked as a team and I could tell how excited they were to be involved - they took a lot of pride in their hard work.

On the way home, I was listening to Japanese radio while taking turns driving the truck. The radio's DJ was reading letters from people throughout Japan who are cheering on the victims. It is very moving to hear these letters, but I realized that none of the victims can actually hear these messages because the shelters don't have electricity - so no radio.

That's when it dawned on me what WE can do together as the TOKYOPOP community. I remembered the students' excitement when they practiced some of their English phrases for me and when I taught them some of our American handshake styles (we have so many, after all). They laughed and jumped around trying to high-five each other in the "American" styles.

So, I thought, what if I gather letters from our community and deliver those letters to them? They can't read much English but so many of you can draw beautifully as well as write poems, simple letters, and even some decorative Japanese phrases. Maybe you can include a photo of yourself and friends (cosplay!) - or something about you. Anything to let the Takasago students know that you are cheering them on - and to put a smile on their face.

Of course, the food, fuel and blankets are top priority but so many people are now pitching in that I anticipate that problem will be resolved in the next week. The real issue is how long the victims will have to live in these shelters - it could be months. So many of these shelters are schools and the schools need to start teaching. The students will have bright futures if they can make it through this trauma, not only physically but also emotionally. That's why your letters and drawings will mean so much. It will help heal the deep scars this disaster has caused, and ease the pain of the trauma.

So, here is my plea to you:


We can't do this digitally because there's no electricity, so we have to go old school: paper! Also, I want to bring up a huge box on my next provisions trip, so please send them directly to my office in Tokyo. I know the postage is a bit more expensive, but it will save precious time to not go through our LA office.

Of course donations to the various non-profit funds are critical but this is something that will cost you almost no money (just postage) - and it is something very special. My hope is that I can learn more about the Takasago students and introduce them to you guys next - through photos and letters from them back. For now, here's a photo I took in the shelter's kitchen. It's a group of some of the students - you can see the joy and love in their faces. Your letters will guarantee many more smiles over the hard months ahead.

Please send them to:

Students of Takasago
c/o Stu Levy
Tokyo Towers, Mid-Tower 4918
6-3-2 Kachidoki, Chuo-ku
Tokyo, Japan 104-0054

If you are also interested in making a donation,
click here for JEN (Japan Emergency Network) the non-profit organization I am volunteering for.



20th-Mar-2011 02:49 am (UTC)
This is such a cool idea!! I plan on doing this later this weekend, hopefully tomorrow, but one thing: Can anyone explain to me how to address the letter? I can't just write the address he provided in romaji, right? And I don't trust myself to just google the kanji and magically get them all right...
20th-Mar-2011 02:51 am (UTC)
I should think it would be just as typed above. I mean, they get mail from people all over the world, most of whom don't know how to write in Japanese, right?
(Deleted comment)
20th-Mar-2011 03:02 am (UTC)
Okay, thanks - I thought I read the opposite on another earthquake help website the other day, but maybe I just got confused. ^^;
20th-Mar-2011 04:00 am (UTC)
Yep, romaji's fine!

When I lived in Japan I always wrote in romaji to get things out of the country to my family, and my family always wrote me in romaji to get things to me.
20th-Mar-2011 03:40 am (UTC)
I'm going to do this!
20th-Mar-2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Great! :)
20th-Mar-2011 04:01 am (UTC)
I've heard some negative things about Tokyopop over the years, but this is a really wonderful thing they're doing. I may ask my students to write letters.

Thanks for posting!
20th-Mar-2011 04:28 am (UTC)
I love Tokyopop... They really do a lot to connect with their fans. I've read negative stuff, too, but it was only regarding their printing quality, which I personally have never had any issue with. I don't know what other complaints there have been.

At any rate, I think it's great that the founder went there to help out and decided to collect letters & stuff to give to the people there. :)
20th-Mar-2011 04:54 am (UTC)
Oh wow awesome! If the first week of April is ok, I'm doing a donation post at my LJ with pictures that say "From the Internet with love." When I get done I will FOR SURE put them together in a book for you to send!
20th-Mar-2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Great! :)
20th-Mar-2011 05:03 am (UTC)
such a great idea~~ I'm planning to make one, hopefully by tomorrow. :)
20th-Mar-2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Great! :)
20th-Mar-2011 07:02 am (UTC)
What a nice idea :) I'll try to send a few!
20th-Mar-2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
A few! Why didn't I think of a few? I was only planning one. haha >_
20th-Mar-2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
First of all, thank you for giving such a precious information like this.. We have been waiting for this moment where we could actually send something to the victims there.

We make Shinai Mirai no Hana here, It's not much, but hopefully it can bring them to immediete recovery.
20th-Mar-2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
What is Shinai Mirai no Hana?
20th-Mar-2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
Sorry, just realize i wrote it wrong there.. It's Shinsai Mirai no Hana, piece of papers that shape like a flower, and in each leaf we write our message, pray, etc.

Here is how it looks like:


20th-Mar-2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's neat! :)
20th-Mar-2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
Going to do this of course ♥ Thank you!
20th-Mar-2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Great! :)
21st-Mar-2011 12:22 am (UTC)
i really wanna do this but i dont know what to write or draw >_< I kinda wish I could send them some Japanese manga (actual books bought from japan)but I have but ive been told against that... I'll try to think of something though... is there any day they need our letters by?
21st-Mar-2011 01:59 am (UTC)
Definitely gonna do this!
Ouen shite ageru wa!
I'll send it tomorrow by post!
21st-Mar-2011 05:09 am (UTC)
May I know if I can re-post what you have up there? Would like to inform my lj friends on it. :)
21st-Mar-2011 05:02 pm (UTC)
Sure, that's fine. :)
21st-Mar-2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
I'm majoring in Japanese and is asking if my classmates are interested in writing a letter to them. Will be collecting letters and send them off. Thanks for informing about this btw. :)
22nd-Mar-2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
That's awesome! :D
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