By producing high-quality timepieces that have been closely linked with people’s lives, the Seiko Holdings Group has shared time with people, in sorrow and in joy, throughout its history.
Commemorating 10 years since the tragedy, Seiko will organize a special concert at Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo on March 11 to bring together those affected by the disasters and those who have offered support for reconstruction, including pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii.
Looking back, when the disasters hit the Tohoku region in 2011, Seiko was about to mark its 130th year in business. The company canceled all scheduled events to celebrate the milestone anniversary. Instead, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, it conducted a series of activities called the Seiko 130 Actions, which included fundraising, sending relief goods, cleaning of the tsunami-damaged photos and helping with decontamination work, to facilitate the recovery. In three years, the number of support activities climbed to 138.
As part of the Seiko 130 Actions, the company supported two charity concerts led by the late jazz pianist Norio Maeda in August 2011 in Fukushima and Iwate prefectures to show solidarity with those affected by offering emotional support through music, rather than material assistance.
Seiko Holdings Group CEO and Chief Culture Officer Shinji Hattori, who attended both concerts, was moved by Maeda’s performances on the tsunami-hit piano that lost some of its tune. Hattori realized that it is the power of music that moves and unites people’s hearts, and became more determined to have the company further extend such activities to assist reconstruction.
To broaden the scope of its support, Seiko established an executive committee headed by Hattori to organize a string of events under the “Sound of ‘Wa’ Concert to Support Eastern Japan” in September 2013, resulting in six concerts in the affected areas in Tohoku region.
The Japanese word wa in the title has various meanings ranging from circles and harmony to things Japanese: a circle of support for reconstruction activities, a circle of hands joining those who suffered in the disasters with their supporters, a circle of hope for the future, a spirit of harmony that fosters the togetherness of those working for reconstruction and a spirit of vibrant Japan. The Wa concerts embrace such spirits and express a strong wish to develop bonds among people.
Originally, the concert was organized as an occasion for supporters, including artists, to show their support for disaster victims. Before long, the concerts developed into stages for the victims themselves to express their hopes for progress with reconstruction. From local elementary schools to junior high and high schools, many students who are members of their choirs and wind ensembles are showing a willingness to join the concert.
In March 2014, a Wa concert was held in Tokyo for the first time to enlarge the circle of support nationwide.
Since then, Seiko has been organizing the annual Wa concert in Tokyo, in addition to concerts in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, for 36 concerts so far. The Wa concert in Tokyo provides an opportunity for those who moved from Tohoku to Tokyo to offer their prayers, as well as for supporters in Tokyo to show their solidarity with everyone who was affected.
Although it may be not easy to prevent the memories of the disasters from fading, Seiko believes in the importance of continuing to support reconstruction efforts.
As part of such efforts, Seiko has collected message from both victims and supporters from around Japan in the form of flags, headbands or cards. Among them was a message from Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki, who lost their beloved children in the disasters and attended the 2019 concert in Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture. The couple were moved to tears by the concert and wrote down their feelings on a card.
Every year in early March, those emotional messages are presented in a display window at the Wako specialty store, part of the Seiko Holdings Group and a landmark building that faces the main intersection of Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district.
From 2012, Wako tolled the bells of the building’s clock tower every March 11 at 2:46 p.m., the exact time the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred on March 11, 2011, to offer prayers of repose for the souls of those lost in the disasters and to give people hope for the future.
In addition, a large clock, which is in a Wako display window and points to 2:46, starts moving today, after this year’s tolling.
Located in the heart of Tokyo, Nippon Budokan Hall, where the upcoming Wa concert will take place, has been the scene of many emotional moments, serving as a symbol of hope in Japan.
One of the highlights of the 10th anniversary concert is a choir project that brings together videos of the renowned song “Ue o Muite Aruko” (“I look up as I walk”), also known as “Sukiyaki.” By mid-February, the committee received over 100 videos recorded by groups and individuals from around Japan. These will be screened at Budokan hall as part of a live performance during the concert.
The screening at Budokan hall also presents messages from around Japan to support the reconstruction toward the future.
Also, the concert will play a new song that was composed in collaboration with local students. When one of the wa concerts was held in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, in 2018, the students of Tagajo Junior High School were actively involved in the event, which paved the way to writing the lyrics to a melody composed by Seiko CEO Hattori. Thanks to the participation of all 400 students at the school, as well as help from popular lyricist Yoko Aki, this project bore fruit. Japanese vocal group Circus and volunteers from Seiko will sing “Hope and Bonds” onstage.
Out of respect for concert originator Maeda, who died in 2018, composer Akira Miyagawa supervises the program that features musicians, including Circus, Australian vocalist and violinist Sarah Alainn, Japanese singers Machiko Watanabe, Junko Ohashi and Sara Kobayashi, and saxophonist Kohei Ueno.
In addition to performers from past Wa concerts, pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii will join for the first time.
Born blind, Tsujii has exceptional musical talent and has actively performed internationally, including his first performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2011.
Tsujii has been sending hearty cheers to the people of Tohoku both through his moving performances and the touching composition “Soredemo Ikite Iku” (“Nevertheless I live on”.)
“I struggled with a sense of powerlessness in the aftermath, asking myself what I could do and what could be done by music,” Tsujii said in a recent interview.
Nevertheless, he believes that music has the power to heal grief and fill people with courage.
“For 10 years since the tragedy, I’ve been performing so that I can stand by as many people as possible with the power of music. Sharing such feelings in common, it’s my honor to take part in the upcoming concert,” Tsujii said. “I hope that my performance will touch the audience.”
As the corporate slogan “Moving ahead. Touching hearts” demonstrates, Seiko is determined to touch and unite people’s hearts with the power of music and further enhance their sense of hope for the times to come.
The Sound of ‘Wa’ Concert to Support Eastern Japan 2021 in Nippon Budokan” will take place at Nippon Budokan Hall on March 11 at 5:30 p.m. Due to COVID-19, the concert will take place without an audience and will be livestreamed for free at https://qr.paps.jp/L5AyK .
For more information on the live, please visit www.seiko.co.jp/sports_
Download the PDF of this Bosai Special