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TOKYO

Candles to remember Tohoku

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

News media continue to report on the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, but it’s important to remember that people across the Tohoku region are still recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake that happened there two years ago.

One way of remembering comes to us from students at Tama University in Tokyo. The Washi Candle Garden will feature more than 3,000 candles decorated with washi (Japanese paper). When lit, the candles will illuminate messages written by Tohoku residents and around 350 Tokyoites.

The candles will be arranged in 42 rings to represent the cities and towns in Tohoku that the students collected the messages from. Five of these in particular represent cities in the Fukushima exclusion zone, which the Tama students were not allowed to enter when they visited the region.

The messages, such as “Praying for the recovery of Minamisanriku and hoping to bring back the light into the city (life),” relay the feelings of fear, sadness and hope by those who lived through the disasters.

The rings will be set up to resemble a traditional Japanese pattern called shippō (seven jewels). In Buddhism, precious substances such as gold and lapis lazuli are believed to offer protection and maintain peace and harmony among a nation’s people.

The stories of the people who were interviewed for the project will also be collected and published in a leaflet that will be handed out to visitors.

The event was initiated by members of the We Love Japan Project, a group comprising students of a seminar class taught by professor Sadayuki Murayama.

Washi Candle Garden takes place Sept. 20-23 (5 p.m. till 9 p.m.) at Tokyo Midtown in Minato-ku, Tokyo. Admission is free. For more information, call 03-3475-3100 or visit www.tokyo-midtown.com/jp/event/2013/7450.html (in Japanese).