Remember
Our Japanese correspondent Aiko interviewed Japanese skaters, after the disasters in NorthEastern Japan.
By AIKO SHIMAZU 島津愛子
March 29 in Osaka, May 21 in Tokyo, June 18 in Kanazawa, September 2 in Niigata, (October 30 @ Skate Canada) 2011

☞ in Japanese


+++ Japan's Crisis +++

On March 11th, 2011 - 3 disasters happened at a time in Japan, in the NorthEastern("Tohoku") area. M9.0 Earthquake took Tsunami wave to the Pacific coast which runs 250 miles north-south, Tsunami swallowed approx. 20000 lives and 374000 houses(fully destroyed / half damaged), then it hit - "Fukushima" Nuclear Power Plant #1. Fortunately, no one has gotten radiation sickness, though, people who live within 20km(≈12.4mile) from the troubled reactors, and who would receive 20mSv radiation per year have evacuated. While National Cancer Center reported that the cancer risk could not be estimated under 100mSv. 5 months on, still, 90000+ people are forced to stay in shelters or temporary housing, 2 million tonne wreckage remains there.

Skaters have given their performances for charity shows, in or out of Japan since the disaster. From Overseas, Philippe Candeloro revived his legendary long program "D'Artagnan" in Japan, Shae Lynn Bourne, Irina Slutskaya, Joannie Rochette, Alissa Czisny, Mirai Nagasu, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Jeffrey Buttle, Johnny Weir, Evan Lysacek, Jeremy Abbott, Brian Joubert, Stephane Lambiel, Tomas Verner, Adam Rippon, Florent Amodio, Artur Gachinski, Sinead Kerr & John Kerr, Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat, Meryl Davis & Charlie White, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, Qing Pang & Jian Tong, Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov and even more skaters entertained and are going to connect with Japanese audiences, as well. As Japan Team held "Dreams On Ice" - the annual back-to-season show, for 100% donation this year in June, and so many Japanese skaters have promoted cozy shows by themselves.

- Japan Skates would like to dedicate this, in order to remember the disasters, remember the people who are still suffering from the disasters. We asked Japanese skaters to give their thoughts and to show their feelings on every single topic about it, and also here are video massages from them.

We all, still can donate to "Tohoku" by March 31th, 2012.
International Federation of Red Cross has located Online Donation page:
https://www.ifrc.org/en/donation-japan


Shizuka ARAKAWA - Nobunari ODA - Fumie SUGURI - Yuzuru HANYU - Daisuke TAKAHASHI

+++ Shizuka ARAKAWA 荒川静香さん +++

- 2004 World Championships & 2006 Turin Olympics Gold medalist -

JS: Figure Skating shows us the strength of truth and the strength of sincerity as well, - as the Sports and the Arts inspire us. I believe that, but I couldn't maintain that, since it turned such hard days… Shizuka, you organized by yourself to make a trip to Sendai - the disaster area after that, then have attended several international & national shows. Tell us about what you felt there, and show your reflections on the power of the Sports and the shows since the disaster.

SA: Staying away from there, I didn't know what I could do… so I supposed that I did know what to need at once, what support to need next, to go there in person. Then I could step into supporting them, giving them something to help, I guessed. Sendai, was my hometown in my childhood. What's happening there, how people were there - unless you know that, you can't figure out "what you can do for them", or actually you can't do for them enough. When I went there, even one month hadn't passed. The nerves were highly sensitive, as I couldn't find what to say to them. "suffered people", you can't describe them just one word. Each person has lost each different thing, has each different part wounded. You couldn't say anything, unless you have understood their circumstances. I was so concerned, "Even if I get there, what can I do for them? I might get just self-satisfied with such a trip itself."
- Reportedly, they were encouraged when you met them, at the shelter. As if they saw the light.
So, also, I was concerned for where to go… because I couldn't go all the shelter. Or, I was concerned that I met them, "They would not make sense what I do for them, since I haven't suffered." "Come on," - was never supposed to say, but I couldn't stop saying. The word, only I could say to them. It was shortly after the disaster, I got so wounded, but I got a lot - I could feel, I could find there. News may not tell you a lot. It's important that I could make sense, in getting in touch with them.

Then I took part in some charity shows, I was really impressed how great the power of Figure Skating is, which is emoted by Figure Skater, Figure Skating Fans, All "Figure Skating lovers". People have united, donations have been bound with Figure Skating. In such shows, people not only have fun, but also suppose that they have made a difference, "hope someone will save with this". I think that is the stunning power, which this Figure Skating scene reflects. Since the disaster, every ice show has been organized as a charity event to show sincerity for suffering people, to support them. We shouldn't cancel such an event, by which we should emote our society. I guess, we should charge up them with our energy, and we should be charged up as well, to uplift ourselves and our society.

Far away from there, many athletes might be concerned "What can I do for them?". So many athletes might feel guilty at their trainings to be hurting, so do I. But we are able to "train", that is what we can do right now, so you devote yourself on a daily basis to hope it will help someone somewhere. No one is rescued by the life in decrease. Imagine what saves people, is to show our athletes determined strength and our determined souls to give them. That is a role of the Sports, I think.

In the aftermath, I had taken fully care of my own attitude. Even far away from there, so many people might get in sorrow. Japan was turned down, I guess. Though, we should recover our usual lives in order to rescue the life in disability. What should be decreased is, such as electricity, but unless our energy get increased, our society wouldn't get forward. If the Sports has shined our lives, it's the power to our society.

You could feel guilty if you saw what happened. "I must do something to help!" you might think so. You might think "I can't smile in these circumstances", as well. But, if you see someone smiling, you could feel sincerity to get smiled, too. Therefore, you should give your smile, in my opinion. You don't need pretend being uplifted and smiling, and you don't need shoe-gaze, either - it means nothing, no one will be saved. We should get dressed in energy, to get forward together.

It must take long-term supporting to help them, not temporary effort. It must take 5 years or 10 years to recover, so I would like to pursue asking people to keep in touch with them. "I wanna do something to help! RIGHT! NOW!" - that was my first impression, though I couldn't realize "something to help" at that time. However, you can do something, just a little thing. If you do something anytime over and over, it would be "something to help". That could continue so long.
- Friends On Ice, an annual ice show produced Shizuka, yourself, continuing since you won an Olympics gold medal in Turin 2006, this year FOI is going to be held as a charity show for supporting young skaters in disaster area. And you invite the skaters from there, to perform a special program.
In Sendai and Ibaragi area, rinks are still not available. It should be priority that people recover their usual lives, though, if children haven't been taken their rinks away for a long time, they would give Figure Skating away - their hope. I have supposed this FOI could be hope for continuing their beloved Figure Skating, hope for their lives. We share a number to skate together. In Canada(real site of JapanSkates.com), there are lots of rinks where children are able to train as they like, that's wonderful. But Japanese children are not able to train as same as Canadians in general. If this charity FOI specifies its purpose, donations could get even more united.

☞ Shizuka's message in Japanese on June 18, 2011

((translation))
Hi, there, I'm Shizuka Arakawa on JapanSkates. This disaster has hurt lots of people, lots of towns as well. It takes countless time and money to recover usual life there, you don't know when a good new day comes to them. Still, we all have to connect with them. We don't have to overdo, but we have to keep in touch with them for 5 years, 10 years, to continue to support until "Tohoku" comes to life again, people get lively again. I would like to pursue its goal. I think what I can do right now, what I can give my all, then hope to step in supporting next. So, please find something to do for them, you all. Let's cheer "Tohoku", Let's cheer Japan! And for our good new day, please donate to "Tohoku".


+++ Nobunari ODA 織田信成選手 +++

- 6 consecutive years on podium in Nationals, 3-time on podium in GPF -

JS: This NorthEastern Japan Disaster, most victims are the elderly. Particularly, in the isolated villages, they are still suffering from difficulties concerning age, and they haven't gotten help enough. The young seed our future, but the elderly had rooted in our ground, I guess, you never cut the roots, that means to kill the life. While, some parents had rushed to the water, for their own children' health. Nobu, as a father, tell us about your feelings and efforts on this disaster.

NO: I heard that mothers got strained, hadn't produced breast milk, and about the shortage of diaper, the lack of bottle - babies had drunk from a cup. Then I sent those nursery items there. About the elderly - I guess, our present happiness is rooted in their hardest efforts to Japan. I think, if you don't respect them, you can't respect your own life. Babies should be nursed for tomorrow, and also the elderly, I hope they will live their lives tomorrow.

☞ Nobu's message in Japanese on March 29, 2011

((translation))
Hi there, I'm Nobunari Oda, a figure skater. On March 11th, NorthEastern Japan Disaster happened. Still, there are the people who have been suffering at shelters, who lost their loved ones, who have searched missing ones. That fills me with condolence. Please, remember that, and donate for them.


+++ Fumie SUGURI 村主章枝選手 +++

- 5-time National champion, 3-time Four Continents champion, 4th in Turin Olympics -

JS: Fumie, you had stayed in international countries for training, since the disaster. How did you feel there, for those hard times?

FS: All the people needs energy to make us determined - that I felt there. I had shows in Italy, there, people have such wonderful passion and energy. I learned a lot from them. And there, all the people took care of Japan, I was so happy with that they love our country. I think that as Figure Skaters we have to be determined with full of energy to show our performance and to give stages which could make people determined.

☞ Fumie's message in English on May 21, 2011

 

+++ Yuzuru HANYU 羽生結弦選手 +++

- 2011 Four Continents Silver medalist, 2010 World Junior Championships & 2009 Junior GPF champion -

JS: Yuzuru, when the disaster happened, you were training at your home rink in Sendai, the disaster area. Then you have been moving from one rink to the other rink for your practice. I believe, people get motivated if they have something to give themselves. Please let us know your reflection.

YH: Since my home rink was affected by the disaster, thankfully I have trained at the ice shows in which I have been cast. Still circumstances tumble, I’m not in great shape, but, if I could make my way to go forward, people would get a bit motivated, I hope to do so. Particularly in ice shows, crowds cheer me "I come to see you, come to watch your program!" - that makes me so happy, to have fun with my performance. Although I just do my beloved things, I hope my performance will give some energy to people. This season, I guess I will be introduced as "representing from the disaster area", however there should be no excuse - "He hasn’t trained well due to the disaster." I have qualified to compete in such competitions, because I have been evaluated as a "Japan Team" squad. So I will represent Japan, to skate as an athlete.

☞ Yuzuru's message in Japanese on September 2, 2011

((translation))
Hi there, I’m Yuzuru Hanyu on JapanSkates.com. People who have suffered from the disaster, I have been on your side. I was in my home rink at that time, the ice got waving… I couldn’t believe what I saw. Then I evacuated to the shelter, to stay there for a while. You may have a lot thoughts for this disaster. Please remember your reflections. I will give my all to make my way. And also, please remember people who have been suffering, losing their own homes in the disaster area, to help them to have a good new day again.


+++ Daisuke TAKAHASHI 高橋大輔選手 +++

- 2010 World Championships Gold medalist, 2010 Vancouver Olympics Bronze medalist -

JS: Daisuke, you took action immediately after the disaster, to present "The Charity Show" (in Kansai, the disaster area of Hanshin-Awaji earthquake in 1995). Tell us how it went, and your thoughts on Disaster-Relief.

DT: I was not sure if Worlds could be held or not, but I figured out "what I can do right now", then we planned to do it. You know we have Worlds every year, "So, I should execute what I can do for it." such emotion made me to move so quickly. As an individual, I would like to donate or do what I can give in daily life. As a Figure Skater, I wish the skaters could get united to work on something to help people, as much as possible, with our skating. I supposed so. Thanks to a lot support, we could make it happen, "The Charity Show". A lot crowds gave us their affections, there was so warm atmosphere, we really appreciate that. No one can figure out how many years to recover, so I would like to continue united so long. I'm not sure if I could give my performance every charity show, but I hope I can as much as possible. I believe one step can link to the next step, that means a stepping stone to our future.

☞ Daisuke's Message in Japanese on October 30, 2011

((translation))
Hi there, I'm Daisuke Takahashi. I would like to continue working on Disaster-Relief, what I can do in daily life as a skater, as an individual, as well. And, you all, please donate to help them!


Again, remember we still can donate to "Tohoku" by March 31th, 2012.
International Federation of Red Cross has located Online Donation page:
https://www.ifrc.org/en/donation-japan


Yuzuru HANYU 羽生結弦, Daisuke TAKAHASHI, Shizuka ARAKAWA 荒川静香, Nobunari ODA 織田信成, Fumie SUGURI 村主章枝,  Paja
Yuzuru, Daisuke, Shizuka, Nobu, Fumie