Friday, July 27, 2012

JAPAN CUTS Goes Down With The 'Space Battleship'

Someone just found  out JAPAN CUTS is about to end. Image © 2011 Monkey Town Productions / Women on the Edge Production Committee.

As the sixth and largest ever JAPAN CUTS film festival heads into its final days, it presents arguably the quintessential range of new films from Japan. After tonight's sold-out screening of Leonie, a lyrical biopic about famed American sculptor Isamu Noguchi's mother, the festival concludes Saturday, July 28, with five films.

Lonely Swallows, receiving its U.S. Premiere, is a documentary following the "heartbreaking, devastating and hopeful" stories of Japanese-Brazilian kids living in Japan, and the complicated, often-ignored immigration issues that surround them.

Women on the Edge and A Gentle Rain Falls for Fukushima, both North American Premieres from the "Focus on Post 3.11 Cinema Series", are fictional narratives that use the Fukushima crisis as a backdrop, clarifying and commenting on the main stories. The former film was shot in director Masahiro Kobayashi’s family home in the disaster-stricken area and tells the story of three estranged sisters who gather for an unplanned reunion. The latter stars Kosuke Toyohara as an architect who runs away from his creditors and meets a host of quirky characters, including a young woman who claims that he is her son. Both films deal with unconventional interpersonal interactions and familial relationships.

In a previous article, festival curator Samuel Jamier commented on the emergence of "post-3/11 cinema" that encompasses not only documentaries but fictional films as well. Expanding on this he says, “Unlike what happened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., there was an immediate response in Japan from filmmakers to 3/11 disasters–to archive, to record, to deal with the trauma–interesting for a country in which distance, hindsight, caution, are so often emphasized. On top of that, major filmmakers (like Kobayashi with Women on the Edge and Yoshihiro Nakamura, whose Chips was featured earlier in the festival) took a 180 and remolded their narratives to 'accommodate' the story of 3/11. A few years from now (and this might also be true outside the film industry), there will likely be a pre- and post-3/11 era. I’m not sure if it’s a fracture or a new beginning, but it’s a major turning point."

The screening of Gentle Rain is preceded by the documentary short We Are All Radioactive. A few months after the quake, director Lisa Katayama filmed a group of surfer-turned-activists as they started to rebuild their coastal town of Motoyoshi. Katayama also gave cameras to a group of residents in town to shoot their own personal vignettes.

Also premiering in North America Saturday is Taichi Suzuki’s The Brat!, a uniquely dark comedy. Hiroki Konno plays Daisuke, a young documentarian who blames his unsuccessful career on his ugliness. He regains his sense of worth when he coaches a young actress named Momoko (Sayaka Toshiro), who is starring in a film by a more successful and better-looking rival. Suzuki’s off-kilter stylistic camerawork and Konno’s deadpan performance make for a subversively entertaining film.

"Overall, this year has been a tremendously fun and rewarding experience," says festival curator Samuel Jamier. "I think we found the right balance between big blockbuster titles and indies, and the final day of the festival reflects that equilibrium: on the one hand we have a bold, from-out-of-nowhere indie title like The Brat!, on the other hand the star-studded, multi-million sci-fi flick, Space Battleship Yamato."

The live action rendition of the classic TV anime Space Battleship Yamato has already sold out tomorrow's North American Premiere screening. Sporting a spectacularly huge budget of ¥2 billion, the movie was an enormous hit in Japan, even beating out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at the box office. The storyline reads like a Japanese version of Battlestar Galactica, as the brave ship Yamato travels the galaxy looking for a planet that will save humanity from the evil alien Gamilons. Special effects and breathtaking action sequences abound in this audience-pleaser.

As the Yamato sets sail, JAPAN CUTS 2012, like all good things, must come to an end. Until next year… owari!

--Lyle Sylvander 
© 2010 "Space Battleship Yamato" Production Committee.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Japanese Language in Action: Summer Theater Workshop For High Schoolers

SPAC's Medea, performed at Japan Society in 2011. Photo by Takuma Uchida.

When we think theater we think of bright costumes and big sets, flashy musical numbers, tear-jerking soliloquys, black box realness or broad, bawdy comedy. On Broadway alone right now, it's spider men spinning impossible spectacle, invisible family-binding bunnies, all that jazz, music of the night and much more. But when you get down to it, theater is fundamentally story, which can be told through many different languages: movement, character, plot, design. And sometimes, in the best theater, the story unfolds simply in language itself (think Shakespeare).

This year’s Japan Society summer high school workshop teaches the most fundamental tool for storytelling, language (specifically Japanese) through theater and performance techniques. Although participants may be of any proficiency level, the program is recommended for beginner to intermediate level speakers.

Led by Mami Fujisaki, a high school Japanese teacher at Horace Mann School and a recipient of the Bellet Award for Teaching Excellence (2004), participants split their days between basic Japanese courses and purely theatrical workshops. In the morning Fujisaki teaches students dialogue and conversational skills. In the afternoon, guest instructors present an array of mini-workshops focusing on storytelling through acting, movement, and even traditional non-theater techniques and pop music, among other topics. Guest instructors include Jun Kim, Sonoko Kawahara and Kanako Hiyama, who participate as actors, directors or dancers in New York Japan-based theatre troupes; Alex York, a veteran Japan Society language student and New York based Japanese pop-rock singer; and Tara McGowan, a traditional storyteller and practitioner of kamishibai (storytelling through illustrated picture cards).

Over the course of the workshop, students learn two plays--Issun Boushi and John Manjiro--which they perform on the final day of the workshop, August 18. Though they will have a hand in creating costumes, set, and lighting, their primary focus will be bringing characters to life and understanding them from the mind of the author as well as the actor. Having polished performance skills, learned basic Japanese, and mastered lines and delivery, they will demonstrate a deeper understanding of the language, and ultimately connecting to people through storytelling.

--Sarah Anderson

Each summer Japan Society’s Education Program offers workshops for high school students aiming to help them connect with a particular facet of Japanese culture. In previous years, students have discovered tops topics such as anime, fashion and cooking. For more information on the Society’s education programming, visit

Friday, July 20, 2012

No American Comparison For Japan's Leading Living Actor

Koji Yakusho. Photo by Kazuto Suetake.

While our JAPAN CUTS roundup last week only touched on this weekend's mini-retrospective honoring living Japanese screen legend Koji Yakusho, today's New York Times carries an extensive critic's notebook by Mike Hale heralding the arrival of Yakusho to NYC:
Few people know more about movies, or have a more prominent place in the world of Japanese film, than Koji Yakusho... Regularly cited over the last 15 years as Japan’s leading actor… Mr. Yakusho’s name is not familiar in the United States, but many American filmgoers, whether they know it or not, have seen his long, wonderfully expressive face and his full head of floppy black (now graying) hair.
Born Koji Hashimoto in 1956, the former municipal government worker became interested in acting after seeing a production of Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths. In a nod to his previous career, he took the stage name Yakusho, which means “municipal ward office” in Japanese. After studying at the prestigious Mumeijyuku acting studio, he landed the role of historical figure Oda Nobunaga in the popular NHK series Tokugawa Ieyasu (1983). The role made him a household name in Japan and launched his career in television and film. While best known to foreign audiences for the Hollywood films Memoirs of a Geisha and Babel, his career spans an immense collection of dignified work.

Due to the sheer volume of titles (over 70 films in 33 years), Yakusho does not appear to have any contemporaries in the West. When considering similar U.S. leading men, the staff at Japan Society couldn't decide: DeNiro, Eastwood, Redford and Hanks all seemed to align themselves to various aspects of Yakusho's persona and career. In the end, there was just no comparison.

Even among his peers in Japan, Yakusho stands out for the range of quality films and television dramas. The latter half of the 1990s was his most audacious period and solidified his reputation as Japan’s premier actor. First came the feel-good hit Shall We Dance? (1996), which inspired a dance craze in Japan and a Richard Gere Hollywood remake. The film’s popularity no doubt stemmed from Yakusho’s performance as a worn-out salary man who finds renewed vigor and lust for life when he enrolls in a late night dance class.

Following that triumph, he starred in a drastically different role in Shohei Imamura’s Palm d’Or-winning The Eel (1997). Imamura, one of the maverick directors from the Japanese New Wave of the 1960s, cast Yakusho as a man on the path to redemption following the murder of his adulterous wife. He won a Japanese Academy Award for both performances. 1997 also marked the release of A Lost Paradise, based on the novel by Junichi Watanabe. It features Yakusho as a middle-aged man who has an affair with a woman twenty years younger, ending in tragedy. The film came in second to Hiyao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke at the Japanese box office and critics universally praised his performance. That year he also won the prestigious Hochi Film Award for Best Actor for Bounce Ko Gal, a topical film that dealt with high school prostitution. Yet again that year, Yakusho began his collaboration with Kiyoshi Kurosawa with Cure, in which he played an emotionally repressed detective searching for a deranged serial killer. Further films with Kurosawa include the horror-thrillers Charisma, Kairo (a.k.a. Pulse), and Doppleganger .
Koji Yakusho appears tonight at JAPAN CUTS' New York Premiere screening of his latest film The Woodsman and the Rain, followed by a Q&A session and reception. The actor also appears at the July 21 screening of his hit samurai film 13 Assassins. JAPAN CUTS also presents Yakusho’s Shall We Dance?, Chronicle of My Mother, and Cure.

Recently Yakusho directed and starred in the film Toad’s Oil, also screening at JAPAN CUTS a drama about a greedy day trader whose son has a serious accident that results in a coma. Faced with a challenge that cannot be solved by money, Yakusho’s character begins an exploration of emotions and challenges that are new to him. The film received enthusiastically positive reviews from critics and one wonders if the next stage of Yakusho’s career will emulate that of Clint Eastwood or his Japanese contemporary Takeshi Kitano. Considering his long list of accomplishments, it would not be surprising if this versatile actor became one of World Cinema’s preeminent director-performers as well.

--Lyle Sylvander

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dots Mark The Spot: Yayoi Kusama’s Triumphant Return To NYC

Yayoi Kusama holds sway over all. Via.

The Louis Vuitton store on Fifth Avenue has a new look. What appears to be strips of dot matrix snake skin sliced from a coiled, psychedelic cobra, curls around the building. The offbeat aesthetic stems from an unprecedented collaboration between Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama, one of Japan’s foremost pop artists.

Still active at the age of 83, Kusama is known in the U.S. for her meticulous (some might say obsessive) dot-infused creations from the 60s, when she lived in New York at the height of the city’s avant-garde movement, traveling in the same circles as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Mark Rothko. According to Holland Cotter writing for the New York Times:
It was during that American sojourn… that she did her best-known work: eyelet-patterned abstract paintings, furniture bristling with soft-sculpture phalluses, and polka-dot designs suitable to any and every surface… In the New York City of the mid-’60s she and her art were everywhere. Newspapers clamored for photographs of her wearing dots, painting dots, mingling with the dot-covered nude dancers in street performances that were part protest, part circus.
After her move back to Japan in 1973, she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital where she continues to work to this day. Talking to Women’s Wear Daily about everything from her time in New York City to collaborating with big business, Kusama said of her living situation:
I think that if I didn’t live in the hospital, I couldn’t continue painting. I have hallucinations and these symptoms. The fact that I feel safe in my surrounding allows me to keep painting.
Despite the psychedelic nature of her work (or perhaps because of it), she remains popular, and the Louis Vuitton project, a commission by creative director Marc Jacobs, is only the latest commercial collaboration with mainstream fashion houses.

Marking her first Manhattan visit in more than 30 years, Kusama was on hand for the launch of Vuitton’s new line of Kusama-inspired clothing and accessories (the store also features two window displays of her work: “nerves”, sprouting elongated pink-and-dotted tubules and “self-obliteration”, chock full of mini Kusama dolls), which coincided with a comprehensive retrospective of her work at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Running through September 30, the exhibit features many of her well-known paintings and sculptures, as well as  immersive large-scale installations. Kusama says these installations recreate her hallucinatory experiences, due to mental illness, at the visual and sensory levels, capturing “the feeling of losing your bearings and losing yourself in the process”. The most recent of these, Fireflies on the Water (2002), consists of hundreds of lights reflected by mirrored walls and pools of water, creating an ethereal and spiritual environment (video).

Kusama has a special connection to Japan Society, which owns one of her early paintings entitled Net S.P. (1961). While smaller than her usual works, it bears her hallmark repeating-pattern aesthetic and has an obvious connection to later works such as the Infinity Net series, according to Reiko Tomii, who co-authored the catalogue to Japan Society’s 2007 exhibit Making a Home, featuring Kusama. The circumstances under which the Society acquired the painting are not quite known, but it assumed that the artist donated it after receiving support from the Society when she first arrived to the U.S.

Over 40 years later in 2008, the Society presented the U.S. premier of the documentary Near Equal Kusama Yayoi: I Adore Myself , which won the JAPAN CUTS Audience Award and introduced her to many that may have been unfamiliar with her life and work.

It seems at last Kusama’s star has risen for a new generation.

--Lyle Sylvander

KUSAMA Yayoi, Net S.P., 1961, oil on canvas, 30 X36 1/8" (76.2 x 91.8 cm), Japan Society JS 12.200; gift of the artist. Photo by Steven Williams.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tanabata Tutorial: 7 Ways To Wish Upon A Star

7 types of Star Festival Decorations. Via.

According to an ancient legend, wishes come true during Tanabata, Japan's summer "Star Festival", which occurs every year on the seventh day of the seventh month (those following the lunar calendar observe in August, but people in the U.S. celebrate in July.) On that day, festival-goers write their wishes on a colorful piece of paper called tanzaku and tie it to a branch of a bamboo tree.

Although the legend varies slightly from region to region, it is celebrated all over Japan (and at Japan Society this Sunday!) The story goes that Hikoboshi, the star of Altair, and Orihime, the star of Vega, are two lovers separated by the Milky Way. Orihime was a skilled weaver, but because she spent most of her time weaving, she had no time to love. Her father, Emperor Tentei, saw how sad she was about this and arranged a marriage for her with Hikoboshi. But now Orihime had no time to weave because of her newfound love, so Tentei forbid the two from seeing each other, except for one day a year as long as they wished hard enough every other day. Tanabata celebrates the lovers’ reuniting.

Seven is the magic number for Tanabata, so there are seven types of decorations with special significance:
Tanzaku - wishes for academic success and technical skills.

Kinchaku - shaped like a purse, this decoration is a wish for success with money.

Kamigoromo - shaped like a tiny Kimono, this is for better sewing skills, success with style.

Toami - the net papers, these represent success for good fishing and harvest.

Orizuru - a chain of paper cranes, if you hang these you wish for good health and a long life.

Kuzukago - the trash net, this indicates wishes for cleanliness and thriftiness with money.

Fukinagashi - these aren’t really wishes, they are colorful streamers that represent the fabric Orihime wove.
Click here for a cute manga explaining the decorations and the legend. Our own About Japan teaching rwesource ebsite has some simple Tanabata activity and craft-making guides you can do at home or at school.

Japan Society's Tanabata observance includes interactive, family-friendly activities and an opportunity to hang your own tanzaku on Japan Society's bamboo trees. The event is recommended for children 3-10 and their accompanying adults, but couldn’t we all use a wish or two? Happy Tanabata!

--Sarah Anderson

(UPDATED 7/14/13)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

JAPAN CUTS 2012: From Mainstream Mania And Genre Benders To A Post-3/11 Era

Join the Monsters Club that is JAPAN CUTS 2012. © 2011 GEEK PICTURES

“This year’s JAPAN CUTS festival is so varied in its programming that it’s anti-thematic”, says Samuel Jamier, Japan Society’s senior film programmer, and curator of the Society’s monster summer film festival, opening today in its sixth consecutive year.

The trailer for the festival says it all… by saying nothing and everything at once:

The shear diversity of 2012’s JAPAN CUTS films range from the decidedly popular Rebirth (winner of the Japanese Academy Prize for Picture of the Year) and uber-romcom Love Strikes!, to the grind(out)house Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead. Situated somewhere between these extremes is the “Focus on Post 3.11 Cinema” and “Anime from Hell”.

Jamier, who has curated three JAPAN CUTS festivals to date, notes “This year I have expanded the scope of the types of films we show. It is nice to have a reverential attitude towards the more serious films, but it is also good not to take yourself too seriously, and to always be on the lookout for something new and special. Previously, the only way to sample such a wide variety of genres and styles was to have actually lived in Japan. But I feel proud in bringing that variety to New York.”

A visit to the Japan Society between today and July 28 may indeed feel like a cinephilic trip to Japan as the 2012 installment of JAPAN CUTS is the largest ever presented with 39 films, 33 premieres 8 special guests, 3 award presentations and parties.

Something absolutely unique to the festival in the inclusion of documentaries and fictional films inspired by Japan’s March 11, 2011 earthquake and subsequent Sendai tsunami and Fukushima meltdown. With five features (Women on the Edge, Chips, A Gentle Rain Falls for Fukushima and No Man’s Zone) and a collection of shorts (We Are All Radioactive)--films all completed within a year of the disasters--it is surprising how such a wealth of quality work was created in such a short time span.

According to Jamier, “We now live in a post-3/11 era of creativity and there’s definitely a post-3/11 cinema happening .” He explains how during the tsunami tragedy, many amateur videographers shot footage of the disaster with their cameras and cell phones, creating their own documentation and narratives. The series of short documentaries We Are All Radioactive reflects this phenomenon. Filmmaker Lisa Katayama and her crew gave cameras to residents of Motoyoshi, a seaside town 100 miles north of Fukushima, to shoot the local scene after the disaster.

Jamier notes the post-3/11 era has also influenced films that don’t directly deal with the tragedy. “For instance, Yoshihiro Nakamura’s feature film Chips is ostensibly a comedy about a young man and his infatuation with a professional baseball player. But at the same time this comic story is being told, there is a weird ghostly space accommodating more serious subject matter. I attribute that to the influence of 3/11.”

Yakusho (l) in Woodsman. © 2011 Kitsutsuki to Ame Film Partners

At the center of the festival is the career of legendary actor Koji Yakusho, who will participate in a Q&A session and be presented with the first-ever Cut Above Award for Excellence in Film on July 21. Jamier says “I’m really excited and honored by the presence of Koji Yakusho, who is, in many ways, Japan’s leading actor.”

The festival features many of his classic films like Shall We Dance?, the director’s cut of 13 Assassins and Cure, as well as newer films like Chronicle of My Mother and The Woodsman and the Rain. “It’s amazing to see the consistent quality of his films through the years. By featuring Japan’s leading actor, we hope to demonstrate the importance of Japan Cuts in showcasing contemporary Japanese cinema,” says Jamier.

Other not-to-be-missed Q&A sessions include ones with Love Strikes! star Masami Nagasawa on July 14, Monsters Club director Toshiaki Toyoda on July 15, No Man’s Zone director Toshi Fujiwara on July 22, Roadside Fugitive SR director Yu Irie on July 22, and Leonie director Hisako Matsui on July 27.

The opening week party on July 14 will follow the sold-out screening of Love Strikes! and Q&A with Ms. Nagasawa, who won a Japanese Academy Award for her performance. The film, also screening July 22, was a blockbuster in Japan based on the enormously popular manga and television series of the same name (Moteki in Japanese). It follows the travails of a 31-year-old otaku who inexplicably experiences sudden popularity with women. Perhaps his goal of romance with the hip and kawaii Miyuki (Nagasawa) is attainable after all. The fun story is densely populated with pop songs, including a musical number performed by girl group Perfume, and visual teasers like scrolling Twitter messages and karaoke lyrics.

In a festival where Love Strikes! twice, it’s a bit overwhelming that there are 37 more possible hits. Luckily, several media outlets have produced their top choices from this year’s “cool slice of cinematic pie”, including the Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, and Twitch.

--Lyle Sylvander
Love Strikes! © 2011 TOHO CO.,LTD. / TV TOKYO CORPORATION / DENTSU INC. / KODANSHA Ltd. / Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. / Office Crescendo Inc. / PARCO CO., LTD. / Yahoo Japan Corporation / TV OSAKA CORPORATION / TV AICHI CORPORATION 
モテキ© 2011「モテキ」製作委員会 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hope, Hard Work And Helping Hands Aid Ongoing Tohoku Recovery

Fisherman from a devastated village take to the seas again thanks to newly purchased machinery. In a small town that lost ten percent of its population, folks now have professionals to help them overcome the trauma. A Fukushima mother cries as she realizes her children are able to play outdoors safely at an away camp.

In June Japan Society premiered a moving short video highlighting three of 19 organizations so far supported by the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund (JERF). JEN, an international humanitarian relief and development organization, is working in fishing towns in Miyagi prefecture to help fishermen restore their local economy. In Otsuchi, Japanese Medical Society of America’s KOKOROGAKE program has medical professionals working for long term care for survivors’ mental health. And in Fukushima prefecture, Fukushima Kids provides children with an escape to Hokkaido for the summer.

Although the organizations are working towards very different goals, the video shows a common glimmer of hope between all of them.

The fishermen in Miyagi prefecture were once part of a vibrant fishery-centered economy. The tsunami wiped that out completely. Tatsuya Sugiura, a volunteer at JEN after losing his business partner in the disaster, says, "After the disaster, fishermen were at a loss. They didn’t know what to do. They were probably looking at the sea every day. With JERF we can provide support; the fishermen could focus on becoming positive and self-reliant again."

The refocusing is paying off. The local fishermen built a hut out of the debris from their own home, which now houses a much-needed winch provided by JEN. Hidenori Hiratsuka, one of the fisherman, says, "if we get too nervous, we can’t remain fishermen, and there won’t be a recovery if we don’t go out fishing. I am trying to focus on fishing."

He then reflects on the help from JERF: "I thought no one would help a small port like ours. In the beginning, we had no help. I wondered why no one was helping us. Then we got help; we were so grateful. It makes me cry to think of that time… I have to do my best."

In Otsuchi, a small area in the Iwate prefecture with 10% of the population either missing or dead, many people suffer from extreme post-traumatic stress. "It’s been difficult to reach out to people who have lost their homes, jobs and family members. People are suffering; some of them want to disappear, some are suicidal" says Akiko Ito, a member of Team KOKOROGAKE.

Even before the disaster, there was no mental healthcare facility in the area. Iwate prefecture established one a year after the disaster. Team KOKOROGAKE plans to remain in the area for the long term. "Even if buildings are rebuilt, goods are available and people have jobs, if people are suffering inside, it’s not real recovery," continues Ito. "Mental healthcare issues can’t be solved overnight; we started to work on this issue a year after the disaster, but it can take 5, 10, 20 years for people to recover."

The members of the team are hoping to work on not only helping people’s mental health, but also building enough trust so that the people will come to them when they need help even after the town is rebuilt. They try to be a part of the community, living in temporary housing alongside the area’s survivors and working with them in their homes. "We are medical professionals who don’t think services should be limited to the inside of a clinic. We need to be a part of the community and listen to the people about their loss and the pain caused by it," says Mitsuru Suzuki the leader of Team KOKOROGAKE.

Fukushima Kids is an organization which brings over 200 kids from Fukushima  to a camp in Hokkaido where they can escape the threat of possible radiation exposure. “During [the long breaks], we wanted kids to smile and be healthy,” explains Toru Shinshi, chairperson of the effort, “That’s why we started Fukushima Kids.”

A mother of two young girls who were able to go to Hokkaido explains how this works beyond providing an escape: "When I first saw a video of children running outside, I was taken aback. For several months... I didn’t see any kids playing outside-picking flowers, putting their hands in the river." Funding from JERF is making it possible to sponsor even more children to experience somewhere safe, and in turn, help their parents and families be more optimistic.

More Than 10 Years To Rebuild 

It’s been over 15 months since the devastating triple disasters struck Japan's Tohoku region. As of April this year, 15,857 people are confirmed dead while 3,057 are still missing. The survivors who remain in the area are still suffering: they live in the place they once called home, but in temporary housing surrounded by the nightmares of loss and destruction.

Hiroyuki Koroge, the head of office of JEN says, “I think it will take more than 10 years to rebuild it how it was before the disaster.” He refers to Ishinomaki in his statement, but this is true of all areas affected by the disasters. Japan estimates that it could take upwards of 23 trillion yen ($289 billion) to completely clear the rubble and rebuild homes, cities, jobs and lives.

In the next few weeks, Japan Society will announce the fifth wave of JERF grants. While this is only a fraction of what Japan needs, every bit helps edge Tohoku's people that much closer to a new life as the Society's video so poignantly shows. 

--Sarah Anderson