On 6 March, at the Japanese Roof Garden adjacent to the Brunei Gallery of SOAS, a simple but moving ceremony to commemorate the first year anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster was conducted. The event was held in conjunction with the photo exhibition, ‘Tohoku’, co-organised by the Zen Foto Gallery in Japan, SOAS and the Sainsbury Institute. The exhibition will continue until 24 March. When the co-organisers started to plan this exhibition, we conceived of an event suitable near the date of the one year anniversary. From the beginning, we were in agreement that the solemn atmosphere of the Japanese Roof Garden was the perfect setting. The venue was even more adequate for the occasion that day, as the rock garden was covered with the thousand pots made by artist and ceramist Hirayama Yozo in remembrance of the lives lost in the calamity, including his own friend.
Four short speeches were given; Minister Suzuki Hiroshi represented the Japanese Embassy of London, followed by Shiraishi Hiromi, a Daiwa Tohoku Scholar from Sendai currently pursuing her master’s degree on environmental studies at the University College London, Emily McBride who was in Japan as a JET at the time and helped as a volunteer in Iwate, and finally Councillor Heather Johnson, Deputy Mayor of Camden Council representing the voice of UK. The speeches unveiled personals accounts on how the disaster impacted on their lives and conveyed the message that while the damage done by the tragedy cannot be reversed hope can still be generated through the strong efforts, characteristic of the Tohoku people.