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Feb

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Kato Tokiko live concert in Ishinomaki

On February 12, a live concert by renowned Japanese singer Kato Tokiko was held at kimono fabric shop “Kameshichi” on Chuo-Aitopia street in Ishinomaki.

Ms Kato arrived in Ishinomaki after performing in similarly disaster-affected Rikuzentakata city on February 10, Kesennuma on February 11th, and Kamigama-Kaikan near Kadowaki in Ishinomaki on the morning of the 12th. Ms Kato has regularly visited the three affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima since last year, giving concerts at evacuation centers. She has been vigorously supporting the affected areas, for example through donating sales of her concerts to setting up the temporary  emergency broadcasting station in Rikuzentakata.

It was her first time to visit this place. Since an hour before the concert was due to start, a large queue formed in front of Kameshichi – understandable considering the many enthusiastic requests for her to sing at various places. Since it was a cold day with wind blowing, volunteers hurried to hand out heat packs to those waiting.

The eighty seats were all full, with another 50 people standing making a total of 130 people in the audience.

Ms Kato appeared on stage, singing the song “Seeds in the fields.” She performed 9 songs in all, including her masterpieces “Just living in good” and “A million roses”, mixing in humorous talk and warm smiles.

The highlight of the concert was when Ms Kato performed “Where are you now?” – which she composed six days after the earthquake. Many in the audience were moved to tears.

In the latter half of the concert, the singer called one man to the stage.

Hizashi, guitarist of a Sendai band “The Captains,” spent his school days in Ishinomaki and describes the place as his second hometown.

He composed a song “Wasenedeya” after the disaster.

With the soft-touching melody and lyrics full of thoughts for hometown, her deep voice echoed in the hearts of the audience.

At the end, everyone joined together to sing the well-known songs “A million roses” and “Shiretoko Ryojo (Emotions of a traveler in Shiretoko)” in chorus.

After her performance, Ms Kato shared the following message:
“There may be times when you find it hard and bothersome to talk to others. But that’s when you should try to have as much fun as you can,  keep warm and overcome the harsh winter by making friends within temporary housing and uniting your powers . Get inspired by people from outside and have them listen to your story”.

This message will be delivered to residents in temporary houses in Ishinomaki-City through the “Kasetsu Kizuna newspaper,” distributed by Peace Boat volunteers to around 4,000 households.

This concert was organized in the hope to bring more people to the shopping district and help return it to life.

Thank you to Kato Tokiko, Hizashi, Kameshichi who provided the venue, and all staff and volunteers – as well as of course all those who attended.

Photos and article: Aki