By the time you read this, Patti Smith will have been in Japan for nearly a week. The iconic poet, author, painter and "Godmother of Punk" hasn't yet played a gig with her band; that will come later. First, Smith is reconnecting with a country with which her affinity runs deep.

"I've always loved Japan ever since I was a little girl," Smith begins. "I think it is because I was born right after World War II, and my father was stationed in the Philippines and the Solomon Islands during the war. He was very heartbroken when the Americans dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and he told me about that when I was very small. And I remember being such a little child, not quite understanding but being so sad about that and wanting to learn more about the country. So I have done a lot of studying about Japan since I was young and I wanted to come earlier on this time to speak to the people."

Uppermost in Smith's thoughts are not Japan's "special charms" or the culture she "loves," although the enthusiastic way she talks about author Haruki Murakami suggests that is never far from her mind. Instead, Smith's first visit to the country since the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011, is to be dominated by "helping the people in any small way possible." A charity concert is already arranged, while her gigs will become highly emotive when she sings "Fuji-san," a track written in response to the disasters and the highlight of last year's "Banga" album.