Soka Gakkai Youth Host Music Festival in Tohoku
On September 2, a year and a half after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, Soka Gakkai student group members in Tohoku held a "Rock the Heart" music festival at Kotodai Park in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. Determined to send a message of courage and hope to survivors at a time when national media coverage of the affected regions is waning, eight student performance groups participated in the event, including a choir and Japanese taiko drumming ensemble. In the "Voices of Youth" segment, four local student members shared their experiences of the disaster and how they have grown in the 18 months since.
One of the speakers, Rasuta Mori, was preparing to enter university when the tsunami destroyed the first floor of his home in Iwanuma City, Miyagi Prefecture. When he learned that some of his friends had passed away, he was overtaken by feelings of utter powerlessness and apathy which lasted for days. At such times, he would meet with classmates who had also survived the disaster and they would encourage one another, saying, "We've got to live for the guys who didn’t make it!" and muster the energy to stand up again.
Mori was able to find his future career goal: communications technology. In the wake of the disaster, cellphones were down and no one could connect with their loved ones. Then, as soon as the power came back, he remembered the way his cellphone inbox flooded with messages and notices of missed calls. Realizing the importance of human connections, he decided to pursue the field of innovative communications technology and is now a sophomore at the Tohoku Institute of Technology. "Being of use to the reconstruction efforts--that's what I can do for my friends who didn't make it," he said.
A second speaker, Shiori Saito, was initially at a loss as to how to respond to the catastrophe. Then one day, she saw a news program showing footage from an evacuation center and was deeply struck by the bold words of an elementary school child who proclaimed, "We are the ones who will create the future!" After entering college, Saito joined a volunteer organization that focuses on creating spaces of learning for children in the affected area. "I want to make sure these children who will shoulder the future have ample opportunities for growth. I believe that this directly contributes to the reconstruction efforts," she shared.
This "Rock the Heart" music festival was the second held to date, and it is part of ongoing efforts by Soka Gakkai members in Tohoku to uplift the spirits of people affected by the March 11, 2011, disaster.
[Adapted from articles in the September 4 and 8, 2012, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photo courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]