#07:Voices From Japan

Event #06 – Voices from Japan: Despair and Hope from Disaster

Exhibition in New York from June 14 to August 8, 2012

VOICES FROM JAPAN is an exhibition about Japanese people following the disasters in March 2011. J-COLLABO is pleased to present a VOICES FROM JAPAN virtual gallery on our website to recognize this remarkable exhibition.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011, and through the subsequent hardships of recovery, how have the Japanese people been surviving? The everyday experiences of the people struggling to rebuild and move forward with their lives have rarely been shared with the world. This exhibition shares the heart of the Japanese people, through poems, photographs, and portraits.

Today, the world faces various crises. The people of Japan, who have shown such resilience and strength to continue through these hardships, may be a source of inspiration and hope to others. This exhibition started in June 2012 in New York, in the hope that despair from disasters will transform into hope for the future.


Poems of Survival

A collection of tanka poems, written by ordinary Japanese people in response to the disasters of March 2011, profoundly reveals the hearts of individuals facing great loss.

Seventy-five poems were assembled and translated into English for this project; thirty-one of them were selected for display. All the poems were presented as an anthology in the exhibition’s catalogue booklet. Kanji Chiba, calligrapher in Miyagi Prefecture and survivor of the disaster, drew three tanka poems with a brush in vivid black ink and they were also displayed.

These poems were translated by three American experts: Laurel R. Rodd, Professor of University of Colorado, Amy V. Heinrich, former Director of C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University and Joan E. Ericson, Professor of Colorado College. This anthology was compiled by Isao Tsujimoto, Studio for Cultural Exchange, with the cooperation of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

Portraits of Hope

Japanese-born artist Naoto Nakagawa traveled to Japan from New York eight times after the earthquake, creating 1,000 portraits of people of all ages and walks of life. One hundred selected portraits are exhibited.

Voices from Japan, created and proposed by the Studio for Cultural Exchange in Tokyo, is a production based on international collaborations. In addition, partner organizations in New York cooperated to present this project:

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine 
Asian Cultural Council
New Heritage Theatre Group


Grants provided by:
US-Japan Foundation
Japan Society’s Japan earthquake Relief Fund
Asian Cultural Council
Individual donations include but are not limited to:
Thierry Porté, Akiko Shiraishi, Yoshiko Kamo, and Shingo Yonezawa

Supported by:
Japan: Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Human Ties (Miyagi), I AM Group (Iwate)
US: National Association of Japan America Societies, New York de Volunteer, Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Hall, Consulate-General of Japan in New York

Assisted by volunteers: 
Japan: Kyoko Tsujimoto, Masako Koyano, Susumu Yamaguchi, Maya Sasaki, Tatsuhiro Nobushi, Yukiko Okano, Hiromi Kizaki, Sara Kikuchi, Kaoruko Kubo
US: Ralph Samuelson, Matthew Zuiho Perez, Carrie Thompson, Caroline Press, Robin Radin, Janet Rosenberg, Haruo Shirane, Tomi Suzuki, Satoko Utsunomiya

Voices from Visitors, Poets, and Readers

– Voices from Visitors in New York

“We were both so moved by the evening: above all, the two poets reading their own heartfelt poems. This made it alive, human—gave it the bodies and movements and emotions and faces of the people in Japan who have endured this. Each face is so different in the drawings of Naoto Nakagawa. Somehow, he captured something of the essence of each individual being at that moment. Extraordinary. The haunting collages were beautifully hung, so one has room to stand and gaze for a long time at the different pieces of photographs. My deep wish now is that many, many people see this exhibit.”
(Julie, NYC)

Your words have caused my tears boil.

The moon will always shine on those who died as I feel sad and I feel scared.
(Paloma, age 7)

My heart to your hearts!

I wish for arms long enough to comfort your sorrow; I long for words to ease your pain. Instead, your strong spirit strengthens me. 
(RoseMary, Canada)

My heart cries out in sorrow for your loss- And yet, my heart sings with hope for the dawning of a new day- I carried you with me as I watched the horror unfold-and I carry you with me in my heart today
(Marty, Tennessee)

I love you Japan. May your healing continue and your grace & beauty remain. I feel for you. I am an Indian. One world.

– Voices from Tanka Poets

“Translated into English, my poems turned into birds. They have flown to an unknown place and alighted by strangers. They may have left a mark on someone’s heart… I just cannot imagine how many people’s feelings, meanings and time have been put into the sad, yet beautiful anthology of our tanka poems translated into English. Within the Voices from Japan exhibition, which was made possible by enormous time and effort, I felt my little birds soaring like the wind.” 
(Toko Mihara, Fukushima)

“I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me to the moving opening ceremony of the Voices from Japan exhibition in New York. It was a miracle that I could read my own poems at the great Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. All of the experiences and events in New York are my precious treasures and memories that will last for a lifetime. I am also grateful for the many encounters with so many people.” 
(Keiko Hangui, Fukushima)

“Congratulations on successfully closing the Voices from Japan exhibition in New York. I am so grateful to you for making it possible to share our present situation and the disaster with the people of the world. Thank you.”
(Yoko Yamada, Miyagi)

– Voices from Catalogue Readers

“Thank you for sending the Voices from Japan exhibition catalogue. I have been transcribing Asahi Kadan poems about the disaster in my notebook. Compiled into a book, I can read them over and over again. Thank you, and I hope they will reach the American audience.”
(T.K., Miyagi)

“I sincerely hope that the beautifully translated poems and other works of the Voices from Japan exhibition will reach not only a New York audience but also people in other places of the world.”
(Y.Y., Osaka)

Collages of Damaged Photographs and Images from Tohoku

Photographers and photo restorers Yoshihito and Saori Sasaguchi composed two painfully unforgettable collages of damaged family photographs. Mr. and Mrs. Sasaguchi and members of Photo Kizuna Project have been working to preserve and restore the photos damaged by the disaster.


Tragic but beautiful new photos by New York photographer Magdalena Solé sensitively portray the affected Tohoku region. Video Producer Joseph Krakora also contributes his recent video, “Narrow Path to the Deep North,” based on the concept of Voices from Japan. This moving film introduces Magdalena’s photographs and the tanka poems recited in English translation.

Address: 300 7th street Brooklyn, New York 11215
Tel: 347-987-3217
Open daily from 11am to 7pm
4 minute walk from 4th Ave-9th St Station
4 minute walk from 9th St Station
2 minute walk from 5th ave/7th St Station