For the past 20 years, the streets of Sendai have resonated with live music during the annual two-day Jozenji Streetjazz Festival, gathering crowds of hundreds and thousands from across the nation in what has become a staple mid-September feature in the city of 1 million.

The same can be expected this year, says Mitsuhiro Sakakibara, a well-known local jazz pianist and the founder and chairman of the festival, although he admits he and other organizers had second thoughts on whether to host the event when the March 11 earthquake struck the city and the tsunami wiped out its coastal area.

"There was talk of canceling this year's festival after the disaster," Sakakibara, 54, says. "We temporarily halted preparations, and held many meetings to decide what we should do."