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Matsuyamajo

Nearly 6 weeks ago I landed back in Tokyo after 3 years away from Japan. I came back for an extended work holiday of sorts. Within less then 24 hours the country suffered its greatest natural disaster in the last hundred years and its biggest crisis since World War II. It was immediately clear that this would not be the holiday I’d planned for – I obviously didn’t know quite how unusual it would be yet.

Looking back as I get ready to fly off I, together with others, have done some things which have shocked me and made me incredibly proud…

  • We released 84 tracks from over 50 international artists and labels which have so far raised over $30,000 for the Japanese Red Cross
  • This compilation topped the iTunes electronic charts in Japan for 2 weeks and even peaked at 11 in the Japan mainstream charts above Lady Gaga. It also topped Bandcamp’s chart for 2 weeks
  • I submitted a short piece for inclusion in Quakebook, a collection of twitter-sourced stories about the earthquake and its aftershocks, which was included alongside stories by Yoko Ono and William Gibson among many more
  • I got a full sleeve tattoo on my forearm done in 3 sessions, started shortly after the March 11 earthquake. It’s beautiful
  • We put together a release party for the compilation in Tokyo last week which featured 9 of the Tokyo artists – many of whom never played together. To see people’s reactions that night was amazing, and to be able to fulfill my role as a connector of people like this has felt blessed
  • We’re having a London release party this week with 6 of the UK artists on the compilation, again many of them never played together
  • I’ve had people I deeply respect and look up to in the music world tell me what an incredible job we’ve achieved
  • We’ve been featured in international press from the Japan Times to Time Out, Kyodo News to German newspapers

All of this ultimately means little to anyone but me, and I know that. I just wanted to put it out there. What’s important is not really any of the above. No the most important thing I did on this holiday is the choice I made the day after the earthquake hit – I decided to stay in Japan and do what I could, I decided to stay and continue living.

Throughout all this one of the most amazing thing I’ve seen/heard/read about is the Japanese people’s resilience in the face of such incredible adversity and their collective decision to keep on living – because after all what else can you do when something like this happens? Sure some people left, and many others pressured their loved ones to do so too. But I deeply believe that the best thing anyone living here could have done after March 11 is to keep on living – especially if like me or most people I know they were not directly affected by the events of March 11.

The terrible events of that day have shown me things I never expected – from people’s behaviour to media coverage, from government propaganda and political agendas (and I’m not talking about just the Japanese government here) to social hysteria. They’ve reminded me that somehow, despite Japan being one of the leading 1st world countries most foreign media still views it as this foreign, exotic land where things are different and crazy and cooky. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

On my holiday I learnt that in the face of incredible adversity living is often the best, and most powerful, thing you can do.

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