Kaua‘i marks anniversary of Japan earthquake, tsunami

Kaua‘i joined Japan and locations around the world on Sunday for moments of silence, prayer and reflection about the enormous loss from the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that struck a year ago in Japan.

Musicians Kazz was joined by Hironobu “Hiro” Saito, a jazz guitarist from New York, in silencing their instruments at 7:46 p.m. Saturday to match the time of the earthquake (Japan is a day ahead of Hawai‘i on the calendar) from their perch at the Makai Lounge in the Courtyard by Marriott at Coconut Beach.

“It was never intended, but things happen for a reason,”Kaua‘i Film Commissioner Art Umezu said. “People have been asking if anything was planned outside of what was taking place at churches.”

Saito and Kazz performed Saturday and also Sunday at a “mokutoh” at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.                      

“Mokutoh is a moment of silent prayer,” Umezu said. “Each person can have his own personal prayer, whether it be for Japan and the disaster it is trying to recover from, the Midwest, which  had its own misfortunes, or any other place.”

The March 11 earthquake in Japan killed more than 19,000 people, with more than 3,000 still missing. About 325,000 people are still in temporary housing, after the quake near a nuclear power plant also unleashed the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a quarter century, The Associated Press reported from Japan.

At Kukui Grove Center, many musical and cultural roots melded on stage. The Japanese musicians were joined by local performers Koko Kaneali‘i, John Medeiros, Ragudo Taiko, Joyous Noise and others.

The earthquake a year ago was the strongest recorded in Japan’s history and triggered a tsunami which swelled to more than 65 feet in some spots along the northeastern coast, destroying tens of thousands of homes and causing widespread destruction. The effects of the waves reached the Hawaiian Islands, where numerous visitors spent the night in temporary holding areas safe from the inundation zones.

“Today, Hawai‘i and our nation join with our friends in Japan in remembrance of all the victims of last year’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis,” U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai‘i, said in a statement.

“While this disaster took so much, it did not take the resolve, the courage or the ‘gaman,’ or strength, of the Japanese people. We in Hawai‘i and across the United States will continue to help them rebuild — from our donations to the launch of the Tomodachi Initiative, which will use educational exchanges with students to deepen the friendship between our countries. It is this investment in the future which will help heal the wounds of March 11, 2011,” Hirono said.

Prime Minister Yoshikiko Noda reminded the Japanese people they have overcome many disasters and difficulties in the past and pledged to rebuild the nation so it will be “reborn as an even better place,” AP reported.

The thud and thomp of the taiko under the hands of Ragudo Taiko brought an end to the moment of reflection, the performance of the local group designed to welcome to positive spirit and ward off negativity, Umezu said.

• Dennis Fujimoto can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.


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