Marlborough School Report

We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved at the Japanese Experience Weekend – visitors, volunteers, sponsors and performers alike. Well done too to all the coordinators who were rushing around during the event and who kept their heads during the mad panic to get ready! With a massive concerted effort from over 50 volunteers before and during the event, we managed to achieve a well organised and very special day for over 1,000 visitors. Thanks must also go to the Marlborough School for all their support and providing fantastic facilities free of charge. Over the weekend we raised about £10,000.

The origami team prepared many step-by-step layouts, allowing even novices to make some incredible creations. The Calligraphy room was similarly buzzing all weekend as visitors were given personal tuition on their brush-strokes. Kimono dressing gave many a photo opportunity and a chance to parade around in finery at the event. It was astonishing to see the Japanese toys some people managed to make – a good cultural lesson in perseverance! Meanwhile, others were testing their tactical skills over the Go boards.

There were some very kind personal contributions, including children’s clothes, and exquisitely handpainted postcards, with all the money taken donated to our cause. Likewise, the face-painting and nail art skills were in constant demand. Others had worked hard preparing Japanese crafts and accessories. Special mention must go to the ever popular manga artist Chie Kutsuwada, who was kept busy drawing throughout the weekend and also to Tim and Mizuki, who had spent most of the week preparing a well presented selection of images and short stories from survivors, which was a poignant reminder of why we were all there.

In the food hall, the popular Japanese curry and okonomiyaki were in full production alongside the skilled sushi chefs from Moshi Moshi. Sushi of such quality is not easy to find around here and this was well appreciated by all the visitors and the volunteers too!

Then there were the superb live performances. The warm afternoon air was punctuated by shrieks from the martial arts experts; Mr Samurai himself, Michael Jay, along with his students, and also the Oxford University Kendo club. We were treated to some special koto, shakuhachi and shamisen performances of the very highest quality and our special thanks go to Michael, Keiko and Hibiki for giving visitors the chance to appreciate traditional Japanese music so rarely seen in the UK. The taiko drummers were the finale of each session and what a finale they were. Three of the top taiko groups in the UK came and each day ended with standing ovations that hopefully conveyed the gratitude we felt for their part in making it such an amazing weekend.

Joji Hirota’s group were an unusual combination of drums and flute and even treated us to a bit of taiko “jazz”, joining with Hibiki on the tsugaru shamisen. Our sincere thanks to Kaikyo Taiko for coming at the last minute and performing in such style despite missing some of their regular members. Kagemusha Taiko also pulled out all the stops despite only a few days notice, driving several hours from Exeter, setting up quickly and then blowing us away with their unique style. All taiko drumming is invigorating and inspirational and this was a fitting way to help us realise our own inner strength, and do what we can to help all those in Japan now in such a desperate situation to see hope for the future.

So many people gave up their valuable time to help out over the weekend and their contributions are hugely appreciated; we couldn’t have done it without you!

Please enjoy some photos from the event. Click on “SL” for a slideshow and “FS” to view full screen.
Many thanks to Mike Jay for the use of some of his photos.
* Unfortunately, this slideshow plugin may not work in all browsers. If your browser does not display the photos, please view them HERE

Raffle results

£50 M&S Voucher – Uma Bhattacharyya
£10 M&S Voucher – Gus Andrews
Family Meal at the Jolly Sportsman in Eynsham – Karen Buttery
A Collection of Japanese goods – Ariel Moss
Photo Portrait Session – Georgie Steel
Dinner at Moshi Moshi – Mrs Milne
Dinner at Soseki – Sarah Brown
Oxford City Season Tickets – John Clarke
A Box of Organic Veggies – Hannah Davies

Well done to all and thank you for supporting our cause!

A report of the event appeared in the Oxford Mail HERE