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‘Smile for Nippon,’ a volunteer organization, came to speak at the University of Southern
California’s Annenberg Auditorium on Friday, Jan. 13, to remind people that the relief
efforts in Japan are far from over. Check out the slideshow.
a mission to do whatever they can to support tsunami victims and keep them smiling despite the hardships they have faced.
It has been ten months since the tragic magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Tohoku, the northeastern region of Japan, and though many of us saw images and footages of cars, houses and people being swallowed up by the relentless tsunami waves, this disaster has been abandoned by the media and the rest of the world after almost a month of coverage.
But one small organization, Smile for Nippon, which came to speak in the Annenberg Auditorium on Friday, Jan. 13, is determined to remind the world that Japan still needs as much help as possible.
A group of graduate students from USC and UCLA have been touring around Los Angeles and giving presentations in order to educate people on what has happened since media coverage of the tsunami area halted. But these students would not have come together if it were not for a certain Mr. Tsun-san, who goes by the name Chonmage, the hairstyle featuring a shaved pate and a small ponytail that most sumo wrestlers don before a match.
Chonmage has visited Tohoku 17 times since the tsunami, and with every visit, he brings up amenities – shoes, sausages, games, etc. Because he lives in Tokyo, each trip he makes up to Tohoku and back covers approximately 1000 miles, but Chonmage does not mind making the trip because all the smiles he sees whenever he visits Tohoku makes all the traveling worthwhile.
“I heard that the people who lived in Tohoku needed shoes, and since I am a shoemaker myself, I decided to bring up 200 shoes to give to them,” Chonmage said in Japanese, “When I delivered the shoes, I made a pinky-promise with a little boy that I would come back. Since then, I have returned sixteen more times.”
With donations and money out of his own pocket, Chonmage has been able to brighten the lives of people from all ages in Tohoku. And along with the supplies and entertainment he gives to those in the disaster areas, Chonmage also noted how much they enjoy his presence. “They love to see my goofy outfit. It gives me a reason to talk to them and gives them a reason to laugh. Everyone remembers me.”
Chonmage, with the help of the Los Angeles team, among others, will continue to help those in Tohoku for many years to come. “My ultimate goal is to take the kids to Tokyo Disney!” exclaimed Chonmage, with a brilliant smile.
If you would like to learn more about Chonmage and his mission, please “Like” Smile for Nipponon Facebook and follow Chonmage on Twitter.
See Masaki Botch of the psychedlic rock band Ghost this weekend in L.A. Photo credit: Christina Latimer, Flickr.
Had a long week? Need a break from all the schoolwork? Here are some awesome events to get your weekend off to a relaxing start.
1. Check out Korean art at UCLA. Yes, they’re the enemy, in case you didn’t know. But there’s good stuff to be seen in Westwood! There are five contemporary Korean ceramicists on exhibition in the Flower Museum of UCLA. The pure ceramicists may get your mind off all the midterm grades that are going around this week. Care to see some more Korean stuff? Korean Funerary Figures are on display. The 74 joyful wooden dolls were crafted to be companions for the dead on their journey to the other world.
2. Treat yourself to dim sum in Rowland Heights. A little tired of burgers? Let’s go down to one of the cheapest and most favored Chinese restaurants: New Capital Seafood Restaurant. They make really good chicken feet. I dare you to try them – they are actually really delicious! But remember to get there early, otherwise you will be enjoying the Chinese population without the Chinese food.
3. Get into the hip-hop groove. USC hip-hop dance crews Breakthrough and Chaotic 3 are competing at Maxt Out at 5:55 p.m. Tickets are $20 pre-sale and $30 at the door. If you are in to hip-hop dance, you should definitely get tickets earlier rather than later. Maxt Out was founded in 2001 with more than 600 dancers from all over California. Pick your favorite dance crew and cheer for them! Not enough hip-hop for you? Next Friday, Nov. 19, Breakthrough has a showcase for us. Check it out if you have time!
4. See Masaki Botch of Ghost perform live. Masaki Botch is a member of Ghost, a band that plays religious, psychedelic rock. Botch was born in Japan, surrounded by temples and religious structures. Both rock and religion inspired him to later form the band Ghost with another musically inclined friend. You can get tickets online for $10 or dish out $12 at the door. But you have to be over 21 to get in. Sorry, kiddies. If you can’t make it, here’s a treat for you.