The restoration of the Tohoku region hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident on March 11th, 2011 is still halfway through. I started to volunteer to perform in those disaster struck areas every year until full recovery.
This time, the plan was to visit Fukushima prefecture during October 10th to 12th, a visit to the disaster struck areas organized by Asahi Newspaper. At the time, we were in no position to know that the typhoon No.19 which was to become the strongest typhoon ever had started swirling in the south of the Pacific Ocean.
The day before departure to Tohoku, we learnt that the typhoon this time looked so strong and big and we discussed with the staff in that area, to shorten our trip as it would also affect the audiences’ safety.
On the first day of visit, I visited Iwaki City, Futaba Nanboku Elementary School and Junior High School, Hisanohama Elementary School, Tomioka Fishing Port, and Koito Ryokan (Japanese style hotel). At the Fishing Port, the sea had started getting rough with high waves but the fishermen gathered and heard me play. At first, some of them felt that “We don’t really understand Classical Music” but in the end, they were in tears and listened to the music sincerely.
Looking at the shining eyes of children and hearing about the difficulties of the Ryokan owner ladies made me very emotional.
The following day, I had planned to visit Nishiki Kokaido, Hisanohama Fishing Port and the Okuma Town Hall and they were all ready to accept me for the event, but the decision had to be made to cancel the plan as the typhoon was already approaching. The news of the huge typhoon approaching in an unimaginable strength spread through while I was still volunteering.
Learning that all public transport would be stopped on the 12th, we changed our plans and finished my last performance of the day to end at around 6 PM, and we had to get on the return train to Tokyo.
During our return trip on the train, not knowing that the typhoon disaster would be this big, we discussed about getting back to Fukushima again to complete our mission in the very near future and tried to arrange our schedule.
However, reality was not so simple…
Typhoon No.19 caused river flood, collapse of breakwater, and immense damage by the storm.
The number of victims of the disaster increased day by day and the huge shock that froze our brains ran throughout the country.
And even more, Typhoon No.21 yet again brought river flood, landslides, and traffic paralysis. Disasters occur so ruthlessly. In Chiba, the disaster had started from Typhoon No.15 and have continued.
Now it seems that my plan to go back to Iwaki city to do volunteering in November is impossible.
I feel the helplessness of being a musician on such an occasion, it is not yet the time for us to do anything. This is what we artists feel repeatedly when such disasters occur.
The only thing we can do is to pray.
When time passes and if we are ever wanted again, we are ready to go and stay close to the hearts of the suffering people. If we could give some sort of energy or comfort with music to the audience, then, that is most pleasing for us, but for those areas hit by the typhoon this time, power of music is still not a solution to save them.