Letter to Japanese Friends on March 11th

Japanese Version of Letter Below (scroll down)
French Version of Letter Below (scroll down)

Emerging Above Natural and Man-Made Crisis

A letter to Japanese friends contains a poetic vision of how artists, citizens and decision makers could together define a new Japan.

Today is the third anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.  Let us move forward together. Fukushima could one day be a name associated not with disaster, but a springboard for national and international change.  Everything is still possible.

Please circulate this Letter to Japanese Friends, discuss it, click “like” to encourage Japan.  Join us to work with other artists and citizens who inspire.  Link to Beyond Our Best: Creators Uplifting Japan so we can work creatively together.

This letter has been published in 2012 both in English and Japanese by the chief editor of Sogensha in Osaka Japan in 日本語臨床フォーラム, a web journal dealing with psychology psychotherapy and art.  It has also been since re-published in Belgium in 2013 in the philosophy and theology journal Acta Comparanda XXIV, FVG, Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions, pp. 137-138, 2610 Antwerpen Belgium.

For other venues interested in publishing it, please Contact Us.

 

—– English

A Letter to Japanese Friends

Leiko Ishizuka, MBA, MALD, Keio University exchange, a Franco-Japanese from New York

Paul Briot, Ph.D. in Philosophy, Professor at the Antwerp Faculty of Comparative Religion

This,

understanding, heart of sun,

when?

Nations, just like individuals, often ask crucial questions in times of crisis.  It is only when things become really difficult that we have the courage to consider transformational change.  After the 2011 tragedy, Japan set about recovering with a dignity and courage that moved the world.  Just as in 1945, the Japanese will recover and rebuild.  The question is: can a new Japan emerge?

Some Japanese realize that in the face of increasing natural and man-made disasters, the country has to equip itself with a new moral drive that enlightens and inspires.  To rebuild an old Japan in the current international context is not enough.  To write a glorious page of its history, Japan will need to emerge from this crisis far beyond its previous best.

Let us imagine how Japan can conceive and bring about a sublime nobility, a beauty capable of projecting its inhabitants beyond what they ever were, even at the height of their culture and past.

Japan needs This, a moral drive rich in comprehension and compassion.  The country requires an enlightened spirit of fraternity, open to all those in the world who in this period of adversity have shown their sympathy and respect for Japan’s courage, dignity and solidarity.

In order to mold a new heart for themselves, a heart of sun, one that ignites the sparks that live within them, the Japanese launch into the sky the arrows of their imagination.  In a country that experiences a tremendous range of human emotions and feelings, poets suggest a Japanese This, an element of value and meaning that resides in the very spirit of the Japanese people.

Painters, sculptors, architects and all artists envision faces that gradually rise towards This, a moral sun that is stronger and undoubtedly nobler than unbridled nature.

Intellectuals, historians, writers, journalists, major broadcasters evoke the past.  Throughout its history Japan has been influenced at times by China at times by the West.  But today those lands are also in search of meaning, of their own existential journey.  Fortunately, Japan itself can devise its own audacious future.

The spiritual, the wise and those who meditate propose their experience.  This will signify according to each individual: spiritual faith, moral force or beauty.  These three aspects are indeed compatible.  Imagining meanings, choosing one’s own specificity, committing oneself to the essential Adventure.

Individual citizens ask important questions of themselves and of their country.  They move, they engage, they act to rebuild Japan from within.

Finally an appeal is launched, a solemn appeal to those in charge, including leaders and decision-makers, to contribute to a new Japan.

The Japanese envisage the sun in full freedom, as their inspiration dictates.  They question it in all possible ways.  They imagine poetically its responses, its enigmas, its allusions.  Meaning starts to live, it deepens, it spreads freely.  Value blossoms, sparkles, becomes light, a measureless light that sublimates all things.

The Japanese are capable of This and the world context requires nothing less: comprehension, compassion, liberation, realization.

This,

understanding, heart of sun,

now.

 

—– Japanese

天災と人災を乗り越えて

日本の友人への手紙

Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka(ナタリー 玲子 石塚) パリHECでMBA、慶応大学に留学、「ベストを超えて:日本を元気にするクリエーター達」ディレクター

Paul Briot(ポール・ブリオ) 哲学博士、アントワープ比較宗教学講座教授

これこそが

悟り、太陽の心、

それはいつ?

個人と同様に、国家も、危機に直面すると重要な問いを発するものです。本当に困難な状況に陥ったときに初めて、根本的な変化へと踏み出そうとする勇 気が出 てきます。2011年3月の悲劇的な災害から、日本は尊厳と勇気を持って復興への道を歩みだし、世界を感動させました。第二次世界大戦から復興したときと 同じように、日本はまた復興と再建を成し遂げることでしょう。問題は、「日本は新しく生まれ変われるのだろうか?」ということです。

自然 と人為、二種類の災害の頻度がますます高まっている昨今、日本人の中にも、道を照らし、人々を勇気づけるような新しい精神力を身につける必要があることに 気付きはじめた人々がいます。現代の国際情勢においては、以前と同じ日本をもう一度再建するだけでは十分ではありません。日本がこの苦難の時を乗り越えた とき、これまでの日本をはるかに上回る素晴らしい国として生まれ変わった姿を示すことができれば、その歴史に輝かしい1ページを書き加えることができるで しょう。

想像してみてください。新しい日本が、文化的な栄華を極めた過去のいかなる時代をも超越した、これまでにない高みにまでその国民を引き上げることができるような、崇高で壮麗な美を生み出している姿を。

日本には、相互理解と思いやりに満ちた、この精神力が必要なのです。日本に必要なのは、光にあふれる博愛の精神です。この災禍のときにあって日本人が見せた勇気と尊厳と団結心に共感と敬意を示した世界中のすべての人々に対して心を開く、博愛の精神です。

日本の人々は、新しい心、すなわち内なる輝きに火をともす太陽の心をかたち作っていくために、想像力の矢を空高く放ちます。詩人たちは、数えきれな いほど さまざまな感情や思いを今まさに経験しているこの国において、日本人本来の精神性の中にもともと備わっているこの価値観、この意味を訴えかけます。

画家、彫刻家、建築家、その他すべての芸術家たちは、この精神的な太陽に向かって、少しずつ立ち上がっていく日本の人々の姿を描き出していきます。心の太陽は、歯止めのきかない奔放な自然よりも力強く、また間違いなく崇高なものです。

知識人、歴史家、作家、ジャーナリスト、ニュースキャスターなどは、過去の歴史を呼び起こさせます。日本はその歴史上、中国から、そしてまた西洋か らも影 響を受け続けてきました。しかし今日では、それらの国々もまた意味を求め、自らの存在を問い直す旅のなかにあります。幸いなことに日本は今、自分たちの未 来を自らの手で大胆につくり出していくことができるのです。

宗教家や賢人、瞑想家たちは、自らの経験を言葉にして伝えます。信仰、精神 力、そして美――これが日本人ひとりひとりにとって重要な意味を持ちます。これら3つは共存可能です。意味を想像すること、自分だけの特質を自ら選び取る こと、そして意義深い「冒険」へと踏み出していくこと。

日本人ひとりひとりが、自分自身について、そして日本という国について、重要な問いを投げかけます。ひとりひとりが、日本という国を内側から立て直すために立ち上がり、力を合わせ、行動するのです。

最後に、次の言葉を訴えかけたいと思います。指導者や政策決定者たちを含む、新しい日本の創造に貢献できる立場にいる人々に向けた、重みのある宣言として。

霊感の指し示すところにしたがって、日本人はその心の中に自由に太陽を描き出します。日本人は可能な限りのあらゆる方法で太陽に問いを投げかけま す。太陽 が返す答え、太陽がかける謎、太陽が暗示するものを、日本人は詩的に想像します。意味が命を得て、深まり、そして自由に広がっていきます。価値は花開き、 輝き、光となります。それは、すべての存在を至高の高みへと導く、計り知れない光です。

理解、思いやり、解放 ――日本人にはこれらを成し遂げる力があります。そして、世界の状況も今それを求めているのです。

これこそが

悟り、太陽の心、

今こそがその時

著者紹介

ポール・ブリオ

ポール・ブリオは哲学博士、アントワープ(ベルギー)の比較宗教学講座教授。危機の活用、誠実さ、芸術的創造、目標の明確化などをテーマとした詩的随想や記事、著書を発表。近著(Le rayonnant…un art vers l’Infini…?  2004, Editions Caractères, Collections : Cahiers & Cahiers)では、すべてを超越し、人々を高みへと導く内なる芸術について論じている。

ナタリー 玲子 石塚

石 塚ナタリー玲子は慶応大学で日本語を学び、フレッチャー法律外交大学院でMALD(法律と外交に関する修士号、ハーバード大学との共同学位)を、パリの HECではMBAを取得。学位論文では1946年に制定された日本国憲法と国連平和維持活動について論じ、憲法起草者の一人から称賛の手紙が贈られた。危 機を国家や個人を変革するためのチャンスとして捉えることをテーマに執筆活動を行っており、「日本の友人への手紙」に、日本の昔話「鶴の恩返し」を重ね合 せた寓話「きずな(KIZUNA)」を発表している。

 

 

 

 

 —– French

LETTRE A DES AMIS JAPONAIS

Leiko Ishizuka, M.B.A. HEC, M.A.L.D. Fletcher School, a Franco-Japanese from New York

Paul Briot, Docteur en philosophie, Professeur à la Faculté des religions comparées d’Anvers

Ceci,

comprendre, cœur de soleil,

quand?

En 1945, les Japonais ont réparé les dommages de la guerre et développé une économie particulièrement brillante.  Après le drame de 2011, ils se redressent une fois encore avec une dignité et un courage qui touchent le monde entier.  Mais certains Japonais comprennent que, face à des désastres naturels et d’autres créés par l’homme, le pays doit se doter maintenant d’une force morale qui éclaire l’existence et l’inspire.  De cette crise actuelle le Japon peut écrire une page glorieuse de son histoire.

Imaginons comment le pays conçoit et réalise une noblesse, une beauté qui projette ses habitants au delà de ce qu’ils étaient avant cette épreuve terrible.

Il faut au Japon Ceci, une force morale riche de compréhension et de compassion.  Il faut au pays un esprit  éclairé, fraternel, ouvert à tous ses amis du monde qui, dans cette épreuve, ont manifesté au pays sympathie et respect pour son courage, sa dignité, l’aide que chacun a apportée aux autres.

Pour se forger un nouveau cœur, un cœur de soleil, pour faire jaillir ces étincelles qui déjà vivent en eux, les Japonais lancent vers les hauts les flèches de leur imagination. Dans ce pays qui a reconnu l’immense gamme des émotions et des sentiments humains, les poètes suggèrent ce quelque chose qui vaut, ce quelque chose lourd de sens qui réside dans l’esprit même du peuple.

Peintres, sculpteurs, architectes, tous les artistes imaginent des visages qui peu à peu s’élèvent vers Ceci, soleil moral plus fort en fin de compte, plus noble assurément que la nature déchaînée.

Compositeurs et chorégraphes évoquent une sagesse où volonté et courage s’unissent à l’amour.

Penseurs, historiens, écrivains, journalistes, grands diffuseurs évoquent le passé.  Au cours de son histoire, le Japon fut influencé tantôt par la Chine, tantôt par l’Occident.  Mais aujourd’hui ces lieux se trouvent eux aussi à la recherche d’un sens, d’une formule d’existence.  Par bonheur, le Japon lui-même peut concevoir des plans d’audace, un Ceci japonais.

Les spirituels, les sages, ceux qui méditent proposent leur expérience.  Ceci signifiera selon chacun destinée spirituelle, force morale ou encore beauté, ces trois aspects étant, bien entendu, compatibles.  Imaginer des sens, choisir un sens particulier, s’engager dans l’Aventure essentielle.

Enfin un appel est lancé, un appel solennel qui s’adresse aux responsables, aux dirigeants, aux décideurs pour apporter leur aide à un nouveau Japon.

Les Japonais considèrent le soleil librement, selon leur inspiration.  Ils le questionnent de toutes les manières. Ils imaginent poétiquement ses réponses, ses énigmes, ses allusions.  Du sens se met à vivre, il se creuse, s’étend librement.  La valeur s’épanouit, lance des feux, devient lumière, lumière immense qui sublime toutes choses.

 

Ceci,

comprendre, cœur de soleil,

maintenant.

Kesennuma Making a Difference from Kid to Kid

Kesennuma, Changing Japan from Kid to Kid and Beyond (a visit on March 13, 2013)

kesennuma-before March 11 Kesennuma, located in the northeast of Miyagi Precture, Japan, was deeply affected  in Japan’s quake disaster.    This leading fishing town in Japan is of great beauty and its people of great strength.  Having said that,  the strong need help and two years after the disaster there is still much that can be done.

Kesennuma Hit Hard by Tsunami

kesennuma after march 11When we compare the images of before and after the disaster, the contrast helps us realize how difficult re-construction can be and how much help is still needed.

When faced with national crisis many of us feel useless.  Our first response is what can I do?   And yet, it is often the smallest acts, many of which seemingly go unnoticed, which make a fundamental difference.

Kesennuma boat chaosFor instance, Emi Satomi and a group of nursery teachers from Kesenumma whose jobs were eliminated by the catastrophe, weren’t sure what to do.  They made a makeshift day care center in a warehouse up on a hill.  Despite Emi’s fear to take on something she felt was beyond her, she forged ahead and named the new nursery Ohisama,  meaning “sun” (more on her by Japan Times).  And sun it brought.

Today, the Japanese have done a great job in cleaning up Kesennuma.  And yet, it is not clean streets alone that are sufficient in raising the human spirit.  It is people like Emi Satomi and small acts which change lives.  Acts that tell people we are with them.

TIS (Tokyo International School) Kids, Parents and Michael Anop’s Play Ground of Hope

TISteamclose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On March 13 2013, a group from TIS (Tokyo International School) of dedicated and inspiring parents — including Bita Alu and Tracey Odea — as well as the head of the school, Des Hurst, and the entrepreneur Michael Anop (founder of the Play Ground of Hope) went up to Kessennuma together with a mission.  The purpose of the visit: to send a message from the kids of TIS (Tokyo International school) to the kids of Ohisama that they are not forgotten.

fullplaygroundIn kids talk, this means it is time to play and to smile.  The kids at TIS saved their money and through their own fundraising as well as of their parents offered a playground of hope to a nursery school in Kesennuma.  The idea was to provide a  smile to kids up north and some relief  to the brave nursery teachers who through their giving and effort helped many families in difficulty.

These kids from TIS (Tokyo International School) are wiser than most of us.  They know that is only when smiles return that real reconstruction begins.  Let me share with you a few of those pictures as the moment was a happy one!

happy kid kesennuma playground of hopedownslidehappyredcap

The boy with the red cap kept hugging us.

I speak about the wisdom of children, but I also speak with some noted exceptions of great adults.  Michael Anop, who is himself a parent and knows well the benefit of outdoor play for kids has started a great project of hope for kids (and their parents) in Tohoku.  As the housing situation is difficult in the north with temporary housing now constructed, but with no room for kids to play — a solution had to be found.

kesennuma playground of hope peaceGiven that local authorities remain busy with the basics of housing and employment, it is private initiatives like the Playground of Hope that make the difference.  Michael, determined to help children and their parents in Tohoku, found a way to make playgrounds affordable.  He did something that even the local Japanese constructors thought impossible: build a sturdy affordable playground designed to last.

As he has worked on project after project in Tohoku, he has merited the confidence and trust of local authorities and even the makers of playgrounds are now approaching him with some admiration.  It is my hope that new playgrounds can be created for children who have no place to play.  For this to continue efforts in financing Playground of Hope are helpful by schools and individuals.

We also need the media in the north to make the project of hope visible so that new communities in need of playgrounds will initiate requests to Michael.

snack2snack1Here the kids are having a snack after playing in the playground.

They are waving to their new friends at TIS.  Bita Alu lugged up a large suitcase of presents for each one of them, to be given after the snack…

 

Financing Socially Aware Projects in Tohoku Creates Smiles

People such as Ronald Choi, a Korean investment banker for JP Morgan in Tokyo and also a parent at TIS, is now working to help finance the Playground of Hope and other projects.   He and others are aware that the real work in re-construction starts now.  That is : it is only after people have struggled to physically survive, that comes the more difficult task of re-building one’s life and creating daily meaning in difficult circumstances.

copy-nadiahpheaderRon Choi is raising additional money for the Playground of Hope and other projects up north with the organization NADIA.

I first met Mr. Choi on a bus on the way to Ishinomaki when TIS donated a large playground and many excited children and parents rode up together with Lorraine Izzard (the new head of TIS as of July 2013).  On the bus, I was struck by Mr. Choi’s great spirit, modesty and generosity.  Here was an investment banker who took his own vacation time (vacation is rare in investment banking) to physically do hard labor to help re-build homes up north.  I only met him for a few moments, but was moved by him and his giving family as well as the way he spoke to his own children and to others.

Helping Communities Now and Japanese Architects

what future KesennumaProjects such as Michael’s are important as they underline the necessity of people up north to re-create links and find a place to see old friends and build relationships.  This naturally happens around children.  Socially aware projects like Michael’s enable communities to unite and re-build from within.

As most housing units up north have been randomly assigned to people in temporary housing, people often do not know each other.   Until (and even after) permanent housing and new relationships are created, playgrounds and places where adults can come together are needed.

Another such notable project that merits attention due to its social awareness is by the reknown architect Toyo Ito.  He has designed a “house for all,” as shown in Keiko Courdy’s web documentary Yonaoshi.   Her stunning documentary talks about a New Japan emerging from the disaster, a Japan better than before.   Perhaps, when we look at this house, we begin to understand the spirit of this new Japan.

Toyo ItoIn the video interview of Toyo Ito, Keiko Courdy shows a  prototype of a house by Ito that builds on a new spirit of community.  The wooden house has a place to sit outside where people can naturally greet passing neighbors and a place to gather to cook together a simple meal inside or to have tea together.

Other Japanese architects too, like Shigeru Ban, have created new structures for people up north often without help from local governments nor outside funding nor support.   These architects remind us of our responsibility in crisis to think about the people within the houses, about their hearts, minds and desire to be together with loved ones.

The experience of these Japanese architects remind us of the courage necessary to break away from bureaucracy and let a new Japan emerge.  Some Japanese bureaucrats have been courageous to do so and have allowed talented Japanese architects to realize new structures.   However, more needs to be done to help Japanese architects build and innovate according to needs of people who have lost their homes and often all hope.

It could be our role to link Japanese architects, courageous mayors and bureaucrats who are willing to take a chance, bankers like Ronald Choi and daring social entrepreneurs like Michael Anop to help make the daily life of our citizens livable.

Building a New Japan : A Role for Artists

fukushima stationAs we returned home and passed through Fukushima, I looked out of my window and felt like we have only just begun.  That the real work starts now.

boatKesennuma upon our return shows considerable progress in cleaning up the streets.

The well known ship that was left stranded shows a stark contrast to the one in the earlier picture of this blog.  And yet, there was also a feeling of great sadness.  A feeling of isolation that is hard to describe as there was an emptiness about the streets.

tobuild

With unemployment in the Tohoku area important,  houses with a new community spirit and playgrounds brought by the private sector can do much to help reduce stress and growing domestic violence, drinking and suicide in Tohoku.

Playgrounds and community houses may seem like little acts of creation, but in the day to day life of stressed out parents who can easily tire, they bring back a moment of peace or even a smile.   That smile was best communicated to us by the children we met at Kesennuma.  When we first met them, they were all hard at work happily building something in the sand around the playground.

Kesennuma

When I asked them what they were building, I had expected a “castle,” or something of the sort, but instead heard “I am building a store, a house, a road and shops.”   And so they were.  I leave you, Japanese architects, bureaucrats and financial investors with their hopes and with the beautiful sunset I saw on the way back passing Fukushima.  I am sure you will not disappoint them.

sunset Fukushima

The Art of Joy

A Franco-Japanese at Home in Tokyo

I am now living in Minatoku, Tokyo, Japan since August 2012 and there is too much to tell.   I have not even informed my friends abroad (nor many in Japan) of an address in Tokyo for the next four years nor of my presence, let alone had time to write or formally study Japanese.  I hope you will forgive me.

Perhaps all this to say that I am deeply moved and grateful to be here.

Forgive me for this absence.  It has taken me time to get settled and I have much to learn.

I  begin again on the spirit or soul of the Japanese with Ishinomaki, in Miyagi Prefecture (Tohoku).   I write about artists who through their work bring joy.  They are many.

Ishinomaki, Tohoku

The town was devastated by the tsunami on March 11th. NHK has mentioned that the water overcame 46 percent of the city’s land which is not difficult to imagine when one watches this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBtRIRiTJqA .

An article in the Huffington Post co-authored by Tokyo based Robert Michael Poole states that more than 3,000 residents died and about that many remain missing as of a year ago.

Not so Far Up North

We went up to Ishinomaki with my six-year-old daughter and many families from her school, TIS (Tokyo International School) as they had donated a Playground of Hope for the residents in a housing project.  We took the Shinkansen past Fukushima (the stop at Fukushima seemed a bit odd – a deserted feel) and continued up north to Sendai.  From there we took a 1 ½ hour bus ride.

TIS and the Playground of Hope

Thanks to a year of fundraising by TIS (Tokyo International School) students, teachers and parents, Bita Alu, a parent and friend, had selected the NGO It’s Not Just Mud and been in contact with Michael Anop and Jamie El-Banna.   The NGO is involved in several projects including building playgrounds, which bring a dash of color to temporary housing residences.   The NGO is efficient, and no frills attached.

When Temporary is Childhood

Jamie El-Banna, Bita Alu, Yamakami Katuyoshi

Jamie from It’s Not Just Mud explained to me that it was difficult for the parents in this temporary residence as there were no places for children to play and often local or national organizations have not responded thinking it not a necessity to build a playground as the housing is temporary.

And yet, temporary housing here is estimated to be five years—a good part of youth for a child.

A Playground for Kids or Adults?

Jamie pointed out to me an old man with his grandson who had watched the playground being built since the beginning of the week.  “He’s been here since the beginning,” Jamie says smiling.  “I keep telling the man, ‘It’s for the kids!’ but he always returns!”

Black and White with a Touch of Yellow

When we got off the bus, the cold wind (strong enough to blow off a door of a car if left open according to one resident) added to a feeling that there was no natural warmth here.   The trees which all had been destroyed by the tsunami created no front against the most chilling wind.

So when we approached the playground (and could only hear the cries and laughter of children) playing, the contrast with the scenery struck.  The black and white photo suddenly had a small dab of yellow.

Language Barriers

My daughter was a bit shy at first.  She clung to me and even the clown, Supa Gajin, had a little difficulty initially warming her up (although after he had great success).   And just as I was wondering what to do, a Japanese man from the town with the most expressive eyes came forward with his little dog, and suddenly the scenery had changed for her.  The little dog, this Japanese man, and my daughter became friends.   After a short while, my daughter played with the children in the playground.

I stood by and envied how children do not need to speak the same language.

A Place to Play

One resident told me that the children all went to different schools, and that to get to their schools they take different buses.  So the children, despite they live in the same housing unit, never play together.   Now they have a place to play and can make new friends.  Now the parents can sleep a bit better at night in rooms too small for play.

A Place for Everyone

Another old woman told me she felt useless.  That she could no longer clean clothes nor read given her age.  I told her I felt lucky when I was with older people.  There is a wisdom in age, that is more meaningful than any task we can accomplish.

Depression

A young man in his early twenties seemed lost and disoriented with nothing to do.  I saw he had lost all his teeth and wondered how that happened.  I went up to him and we spoke a bit.  I gave him some models I brought.   Something to occupy, one was of a Japanese temple — and that was the one he wanted.   Perhaps he was telling me discreetly that we have succeeded in building houses, but forgotten the human spirit.

Just Like Us

There was a very nice father smiling with his child.    A man with deep eyes, smart, and a feeling of warmth about him.  He was watching the clown Supra Gajin with his child in his lap.  He was just like us.  But his wife was not with him and he lived here.

A Smile One Can Not Forget

Katuyoshi Yamakami

There was a man who I did not speak to, but whose smile lit up the whole playground and miles around.  I am told his name is Yamakami Katuyoshi, and he is the head of the housing association we visited.

He works freely and given his work is a full time job I wondered how he managed to feed himself or his family.  Yamakumi’s smile was infectious, it never came off his face, not once.

Men with a spirit like this can change Japan.

When A Smile Lasts

There was a man, a clown, who I met, an artist by the name of Gaetano Totaro, who is known as SupaGaijin the smile ambassador.   I had heard of him before from my son’s school BST (through Helen O’Brien who runs BTT Bridge to Tohoku) and has done wonders with children.

BTT has supported the smile ambassador’s work in Tohoku by helping him pay expenses (he gives his own time freely).  Unlike many others who first came to this region, Gaetano returned over and over building a relationship with children – a lasting smile.

A Clown who Doesn’t Clown Around

This clown who was trained at Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey’s Clown College had a way of bridging barriers amongst children.  By using familiar objects such as an umbrella, which could be found even in temporary housing, he encouraged children to use their imagination and to begin a road to recovery.

Kids watching Gaetano Totaro Supagaijin Ishinomaki

I thought, I want to do something with this clown, this artist of great imagination.

When we departed, my daughter had made a new Japanese friend — a girl with the greatest smile.   The two girls didn’t want to separate.  As soon as my daughter got in the bus, she opened the window.  The Japanese girl ran to the bus and through that small window, the two girls held hands.   Surely, they were not saying goodbye.

There is nothing Fun about surviving and yet Joy

I am told that there is a difference in Japan between “tanoshimu” and “yorokobu.”  The laughter–a deep kind– that lasts—is of the latter. It is caused not by fleeting entertainment, but by the deep smile of a Mr. Yamakami and by true friendship offered to us so freely by the Japanese we met in Ishinomaki.  We have much to learn from you.

Thank you.  We will return.

 

 

 

 

A VIDEO OF OUR VISIT ISHINOMAKI

 

 

Letter to the Japanese

The World’s Most Valuable Asset in a Time of Crisis

Letter to Japanese Friends

Dr. Paul Briot and I (Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka) believe that to rebuild Japan will require a magnificent and strong morale made of comprehension, of compassion, beauty and all the pacific values of the great Japanese culture.  In that respect, Japanese artists, writers, thinkers and the youth have an essential task to realize.

It is with great modesty that Paul and I wish to address in the months to come a letter to our Japanese friends and in so doing share our own optimism for Japan.  We believe that Japan thanks to this crisis will rise again.  Not uniquely in an economic or political sense, but in a morale, aesthetic, existential or spiritual sense.

Should the Japanese collectively, and individually, emerge from this crisis with greater comprehension, compassion, liberation, and realization they could initiate changes in society far beyond a previous balance.

If successful, the Japanese could go as far as stiring the imagination of other nations on how to face and successfully overcome natural and man-made crisis, each freely with respect to their own culture, specificity and individual differences.

Brief Background Description of Authors of the Letter:

Paul Briot

Paul Briot, Ph.d in Philosophy, Professor at the Faculty of Comparative Religion, Antwerp (F.V.G.), Belgium.  Author of poetic essays, articles and books on the subject of the utilization of crisis, sincerity, artistic creation, and the clarity of objectives.  Recent books include Le rayonnant…un art vers l’Infini…?  (The Radiant…An Art towards the Infinite?) 2004, Editions Caractères, Collections : Cahiers & Cahiers.  La Structuration de l’existence, (The Structure of Existence) Charleroi, Editions du Centre universitaires (Cunic), 1989.

Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka

Nathalie Ishizuka studied Japanese at Keio University, M.A.L.D. Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (administered in cooperation with Harvard), M.B.A. from HEC, Paris.  Her 240 page summa cum laude thesis on Article 9 of the 1946 Japanese Constitution and UN peacekeeping received written praise from Colonel Charles Kades, one of the Constitution’s founding fathers.  Ishizuka currently writes on the use of crisis as an opportunity to build individual and national health for the Positive Mental Health Foundation. She is also the author of this blog inviting Japanese artists and citizens to imagine a new Japan.

 

Japanese Art & Artists

Japanese Art & Artists: What will the works of Japanese Artists Invite us to Dream About?

 

beyondourbest

Can Japan Go Beyond a Previous Best?  (Artist, Nathalie Ishizuka)

If certain artistic masterpieces can be understood from the aspect of wisdom, what do the works of Japanese artists invite us to dream about?   How did the Japan tsunami, the Japan earthquake, and the Japan nuclear meltdown change Japan?  Are we about to discover something more important than technology and economic efficiency as the central motor of our civilization?  This section of the site will analyze or comment on the works of artists who inspire.

 

 

Use Crisis

February 16, 2012

Crisis Both Danger and Opportunity

Crisis can move artists and individuals in a positive direction.  In the future, we wish to post here interviews with key individuals in Japanese art, culture, and society who wish to discuss a positive vision for Japan and incite both the old and young to act with greater comprehension, compassion, liberation or realization.

Yukio Ishizuka 5 Alternatives at threshold of stress

We will also post articles for individual Japanese citizens to use the crisis as a means for greater comprehension, compassion, liberation and realization.  These articles will include a psychology of health, balance and  building meaning in our everyday lives despite difficulty.

 

Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear

February 16, 2012

Japan Earthquake, Japan Tsunami and Japan Nuclear Power Plant  provide an Opportunity for Societal or National Transformation

The analysis of crisis on this website begins with Japan because of the severity of the crisis (timing is critical in crisis and the desire for change) and because of the great courage the Japanese have shown in the face of a triple disaster (japan earthquake, japan tsunami, japan nuclear).

Kesennuma boat chaos

The nature of the articles on this section is humanistic, philosophical, cultural and psychological.   As media attention on the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis can be often short-lived and short-sighted, articles presented here are are meant to incite the Japanese to continue a narrative on the nature of the crisis and the opportunity crisis provides for societal or national transformation.