Sunday, June 5, 2011

Origami Caravan by Makoto Yamaguchi

It has been nearly three months since the huge earthquake and tsunami hit in the northern part of Japan.  Unfortunately, American media hardly covers about Japan anymore, despite the initial hype right after the disaster.  But I have been following Japanese news on the internet, and many of the headlines are still about the affected area and the people, as well as the nuclear reactors.

A lot of things have changed since March 11, and a lot of other things remain the same.  Some people who lost homes have moved from evacuation centers to temporary housings (such as prefab homes, empty apartment units and hotel rooms), but many people still live in evacuation centers.  Huge piles and piles of rubble of what used to be some people's homes are in the process of being cleared away.  It sounds like it will still take a long time before the survivors can recover their lives, not to mention their sorrow for the losses of their loved ones.

Makoto Yamaguchi, an origami creator based in Tokyo, has been visiting some schools and shelters in the affected area with a few other volunteers.  He is calling his team Origami Caravan, already made two trips to the north so far and plans to go back again.  They delivered boxes full of origami papers and books, which were donated by his publishers, vendors, and supporters.  He taught origami during his visits as well.  Mr. Yamaguchi is doing this project with a notion that origami can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, and anytime, and that it can help healing the people's spirits.  You can see some photos of his first trip here and of the second trip here.

I found out about this project when I recently visited the website of Gallery Origami House, which is owned by Mr. Yamaguchi.  I planned to visit this gallery when I was going to travel through Tokyo back in March, but I had to cancel the trip so I never made it there.  When I reschedule my trip to Japan (which is hopefully soon), I would definitely love to visit the gallery.  And if the timing works out, I would love to join Origami Caravan as well!