I was in Japan for Give -a-Smile Toys project and Tohoku London project in June.
Give-a-Smile toys project went really well. This is a project which is soft toy kit project with other 5 British and Japanese Designers, Alix Timney, Lianne Mellor, Daisuke Hiraiwa, Tomomi Sayuda and Rachael O'neill. This project's concept is giving an opportunity to make something to the Tsunami Suffered children in Northern Japan. So five designers designed soft toys kits and I went to Japan represent and PR the kits. If one kit is sold, another one is sent to Tsunami suffered children. The project is organized by BEDG which is British NPO which gives opportunities for young designers. And I often am helped by them.
I am one of the designers of the "Give-a-Smile Toys Project."
I had an exhibition at Tokyo big sight on "Interior Lifestyle Tokyo"exhibition.
The exhibition went welll and the project was on Asahi shimbun and Jiji tsushin.
And many buyers showed interest to it.
I really appreciated Karin-Beate Phillips at BEDG who organized such a lovely project and opportunity, Kuriko Komatsu who coordinated the booth and Takumi Shimamura who helped stand arranges.
Asahi Shimbun article (4 June 2011, Tokyo area version)
Tokyo big sight
This is my work for Give-a-Smile Toys
This is Fukuwarai doll which is Japanese traditional character which has quote of "Happy go Lucky"
After the exhibition, I went to Tsunami Suffered area to have a workshop of Soft toys with children over there.
I went to Ishinomaki via Sendai on a bus. Then NPO JEN supported to pick me up and give us a car to Higashihama School.
These are links about jen and their blog about our GAST project
Sendai-Ishinomaki delays, so it took 2:30 hours to get to. Also I needed to take another car from the center of Ishinomaki.
The bus was full of people, so some people can't be on the bus.
At Ishinomaki, there are a lot of volunteer's cars from Tokyo, Aomori, Kobe,,,.
At Higashihama school, I had a soft toy making workshop.
With Head teacher, Mr Tsunoda
Racheal O'neill's Glovy Lovys
I went there to give the toy kits and do a workshop there.
The work shop is making toys with needles and scissors. The toys are sent by UK.
This was small school with just 24 children. 7-12years students there.
Many children haven't used to use needles, but other teachers helped us.
Children are really enjoying, honest and well concentrated. Some children wanted to customize it by themselves.
But still sensitive about tsunami issues, so the head teacher, Tsunoda-san mentioned about he is careering about the children's mental problems.
70% of the houses are collapsed around the area. Also this is far from city centre, so trashes aren't taken out. So the school worked as shelter of the area yet. Pepole are living as fisherman. So their ships are washed, too.
Mr. Tsunoda mentioned children become more happier rather than before, but still there are a lot of mental shocks. So his school is welcome to have happy workshops outside their area.
I thought if many schools are open for visitors like us, it would be better to make connection from non-suffered people and suffered people. .
This workshop was picked up on Jiji tsushin. Then shown on Yahoo news, goo news,,, and many places.
The day was just before 100 days after tsunami. So there are a lot of cars of self defense for doing the final search.
The area I went is still needed to have help. I took some photos of the area.
But people live there are so optimistic and didn't look back old days. And they are working hard.
And already fisherman started to work in the such a situation.
More information about this project is on 「Give-a-Smile Toys」.
And I appreciated NPO Jen http://www.jen-npo.org/, Mr.Tsunoda and teachers at Higashihama school, and my friend, Yoshie Miura who helped the workshop under such a difficult time.