Messages from Japan: Tea Can Play a Role in Healing

Takada san's truck loaded with relief supplies
Roy began communicating with his friend Takada san, the tea farmer in Japan who grows Imperial Gyokuro, a few days after last month’s Japanese catastrophe. Takada san is in Uji, in the south near Kyoto, far from the area devasted by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, so he and his family weren’t in immediate danger. However, like all Japanese, they have been deeply affected. With the eyes and hearts of the world on Japan now, Roy wanted to share Takada san’s moving messages and his hope that tea can play a small role in comforting those who are suffering most.

On March 16 Takada wrote:
We have been afraid of another new earthquake these nights. Nobody knows when and where it happen and when it will finish. All TV programs showed only news of the terrible disaster the whole day and night. On March 11 I was working on my computer and watching TV at 14:46 in the afternoon. Then TV said a big earthquake is coming in a few seconds in several prefectures (this announcement system is very good to help people to get a safe position quickly).

After the earthquake came, TV showed the danger area for a tsunami. They predicted 2-10 meters height within a few minutes. The TV staff were shouting to escape to a high position after cutting off fire and electricity. It seemed like watching a movie. After three hours many cities located on the Pacific were missing whole their facing. TV news showed us many terrible towns. Now over 10,000 people are missing and it will be increase more. I am very lucky I was here in the Kansai area. We have no damage. In fact I have business in the North in June. If this happened when I was staying there, I would have been in a very dangerous situation.

I really thank you and all the friends who sent me messages. The Takada family is fine and thinking to send something to support the victims. After the Kobe earthquake I took my tea friends to open a green tea table in the park for the people who lost their houses. They enjoyed the green tea a lot after the terrible experience. It was useful to get vitamins from the green tea because they could not get any vegetables. I hope Japanese people help each other very quickly to return to peaceful days again. We feel a big thanks for the quick support from many countries. We will have the cherry season soon after a big cry. Fortunately the tea area is not damaged and I hope we can send the new tea, same as before.

Now our island got a skull stamp from the world owing to the big trouble of the nuclear power plants. The earthquake, huge deluge, nuclear accident - we are getting a triple disaster. I worry about gossip in the world now. Maybe they are afraid of touching our products.

He recently followed up:
This is my short story of the last week. For a week I was busy with my work to collect support goods for the people who lost their houses and families. I have a kendo friend in Berlin who has many students in his training hall. He made a support campaign for Japan with many kendo people around Berlin. He collected a very large amount of money as their donation. He asked me to change the money to useful goods, like food, life kits (light, batteries, candles, warm cloths, sweets, etc.) and send them to the destroyed cities. After two weeks there are still some villages where they cannot get enough support from the government.

So I went shopping in many places to get all of the items which are very necessary for the victims’ daily life and survival now. I packed nearly 50 cartons with the flags of Germany and Japan and delivered items very carefully. Even now the transportation is still not in a good condition. I was very glad to do this work. I did some charity activity after the Kobe earthquake in 1995 and I am happy to finish this delivery on Monday and Wednesday. In the picture, you can see my small truck full of survival kits. I will continue this kind of support to this area, because it might take a long time to recover the villages. My town office is starting to look for families here with empty rooms to welcome students who lost their houses, schools, and their own families. We Takada family are also thinking about this possibility.

Now I have another idea with my partner in Berlin. I will send this poster and message labels to any tea shop that sells Japanese tea. The owner can start a Japan Week as an event for charity. Our motto is as follows: "Please drink Japanese tea and think together for Japan." Then their customers can write down some small messages to Japanese people on the labels. After this campaign I will get a lot of labels from abroad. I will put the labels on tea bags and send them to the people who are starting a new life in a simple house. They can see many messages from many countries. They will feel a big energy from abroad with a strong fragrance of shincha. The tea can be a bridge for these people.

This is one of my ideas for tea people. I can send you the poster and the labels in the new tea season if it is useful for your tea shop. We welcome good news anytime. Only good news brings us a good taste of meals and tea. We have such a bitter situation now. We need another clean campaign, "safe tea Japan."

When he returns from China Roy will be working with Takada san to plan a Japan relief event.

Takada san's poster and label