It’s been just over a month since the magnitude 9.0 “Tohoku-Chiho Taiheiyo-Oki” earthquake and tsunami disaster hit the Tohoku area of Japan. Although the original reports were hopeful, with the death-toll simply ranging in the 100’s, to have believed it would be that merciful would have been naive. The death-toll now rests somewhere around 13,000, with another 15,000+ people still missing.*
To get a better grasp on the damages and statistics, information has been compiled into a well-cited Wikipedia page on the quake. You can read the page here.
Removed from the damage as myself and others are, we can only begin to imagine the sorrow and suffering that the affected people are going through at this time. However, it has been inspiring to see not only Japanese residents and citizens, but also Japanese and non-Japanese communities alike coming together overseas to send support, in the form of money, books of messages and condolences, or simply their hopeful prayers, to everyone who is struggling at this time.
My attention has, naturally, been particularly drawn to what Visual Kei and Jrock artists have been doing to assist in the relief efforts. To name a few, legendary Luna Sea recently released the single Promise, the proceeds of which will benefit quake relief. Today, April 13th, girugamesh released a song in 2 versions which was instantly made available on iTunes, entitled Pray, as a charity benefit for Japan. Megastar T.M.Revolution rallied his posse and founded a charity group, Stand Up Japan!.
But of course, predictable gacktpause, the movement that really touched my heart, and the message of which nearly had my manly facade in pieces as I sobbed hopelessly into my sake, was that of the charity project founded by GACKT, called Show Your Heart.
Founded quickly after the earthquake hit off the Pacific coast of Tohoku to raise disaster relief funds, the SHOW YOUR HEART foundation is also supported by artists such as Shinya (Luna Sea), DAIGO (BREAKERZ), Ni~ya (Nightmare), Tamaki Nami, Haruna Ai, Jinnai Tomonari, and many more.
The SHOW YOUR HEART official webpage includes a heart-warming message (in English*) describing the project’s efforts. The project set out onto the streets of Japan, lead by GACKT and including a team of 150 talentos and athletes, as well as 5,000 volunteers. The campaign set out to raise money in 130 different cities across Japan.
A very involved GACKT went out, bowed, and met with people on the street to raise money, and asked that people give their courage and strength to those in need. Many female fans of the singer stood in a long line with ¥1,000 bills and placed them in the donation box. GACKT shook each other their hands and gave his thanks as each one donated.¹
“It’s a small determination at the beginning, but I believe that it will become greater and greater with everyone’s support. Now the circle is steadily increasing. Anyways, I’d like to borrow everyone’s strength. Although individuals may not be able to do much, if everyone works together, it becomes a lot of power. Especially in this sort of time, we need the courage to lend a helping hand.”²
As to Ni~ya from Nightmare, whose hometown was one of the stricken areas, commented: “Miyagi prefecture, my home, has been hit seriously. I’m worried that I can’t contact with my parents and friends right now. I want to go to the there as soon as possible right now. I want to help the victims and contribute my strength. Please cooperate with this charity project.”³
More than ¥170,000,000 was donated by enterprises and celebrities such as Noriko Fujiwara and Takahashi Hisanori, and this number continues to be added to via the SHOW YOUR HEART website, where donations can be made through direct-deposit. The foundation will forward the funds to the Japanese Red Cross and local community associations, which will then distribute them.
From April 3rd to the 4th, 10 countries also participated in the SHOW YOUR HEART cause, including volunteers from South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, America, Germany, Australia, and Singapore.
If you can, of course it’s great to go and donate money. That’s awesome, man. Even better, buy a plane ticket to Japan and go get your hands dirty assisting in the thick of it. That’s what I would like to be doing right now– more than anything. But if you can’t fly over there and help, and if you’re unable to donate money–or can, but want to do more–, SHOW YOUR HEART is accepting another kind of donation.
The SHOW YOUR HEART page on GACKT’s website has a posted message stating that one way we can contribute is by making a video of yourself delivering a message to those affected by the disaster, concluding your message with the words “SHOW YOUR HEART!!!”. All you have to do is upload the video to Youtube. If you are unable to upload the video to Youtube, it’s possible for the foundation to post it for you if you send them the file. If you can’t make a video, then just take a picture complying with the guidelines.
Complete instructions and information is available here. Submissions are open until April 31st.
So go, Visualists, and do what you can do to show those who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami, show them that people all over the world are lending them their courage, strength, and fighting spirit. Show them that, although thousands of miles, language, and nationality separate us, that we’re right there with them, giving them everything we’ve got in whatever way we can. So go, go and show your heart.