Los Angeles reflects on first anniversary of Japanese earthquake and tsunami

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Sunday, March 11, marks the one-year anniversary of the Tohoku disaster, when a violent, 9.0 magnitude earthquake jolted northeast Japan, triggering a massive tsunami that devastated the country. Japan is still putting itself back together, and Los Angeles communities will gather this weekend to remember those who were lost, commemorate progress and look towards the future.

Douglas Erber, president of the Japan American Society of Southern California, visited Tohoku in September of last year.

"The devastation is the region from Santa Barbara all the way to the Mexican border. And everything up to beach six miles inland is just gone," he recalled. "Seeing that firsthand was just life changing ... it’s going to take a decade at least to recover from it."

His organization has been planning Sunday's memorial event "Love to Nippon" for six months, to commemorate both the victims and the survivors, and pay tribute to Los Angeles residents involved in the relief effort.

"That includes the Los Angeles Fire Department urban search and rescue team, which, within 24 hours, was within the city of Ofunato helping, as well as many citizens of L.A. who visited not just Ofunato but various areas of Tohoku to help clean up, remove debris – anything that they needed done," he said.

The Consulate General of Japan in L.A. has teamed up with the Japanese Business Association of Southern California to also thank Los Angeles for its support. They're hosting a cultural showcase at the Grove in appreciation.

"In this one year, we, Japan and Japan Consulate and community, have many support and donations and many messages from this Los Angeles area," Consul Shoichi Sudo said. "On this occasion, we want to say thank you for the people in the Los Angeles area."

Little Tokyo will light up in the evening during a candlelight vigil sponsored jointly by the Nikkei Interfaith Group, Nisei Week Foundation, and Japanese American National Museum.

Last year, these groups held a vigil 10 days after the quake. "It rained like you can’t believe, but we probably had almost 100 people," museum public information officer Chris Komai added.

Check the list below for some of the many events, shows and exhibitions taking place this weekend.

March 10, 2012:

Japan. Endless Discovery.
What: The Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles and Japanese Business Association of Southern California is holding a public appreciation event that will feature stage performances, booths with food, fashion, pop and traditional culture, technology and more.
Where: The Grove @ 189 The Grove Drive, L.A.
When: 12:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Admission: Free; open to the public

Lost & Found Project
What: A fundraising exhibit featuring a collection of salvaged photos swept away by the tsunami.
Where: Hiroshi Watanabe Studio @ 8810 Melrose Avenue, 2F, West Hollywood
When: 12:00 - 7:00 p.m.; the exhibit will be closed on Mar. 11 due to road closures
Admission: Free

Symposium: Moving Forward: Life after the Great East Japan Earthquake
What: A discussion held in conjunction with the "Moving Forward" photo exhibit at the Fowler, which focuses on people recovering from the disaster in the Tohoku area.
Where: Fowler Museum Auditorium @ 308 Charles E. Young Drive North L.A.
When: 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.; the exhibit runs till April 15
Admission: Free; RSVP helpful but not required

Jam for Japan Awareness Festival
What: Live Music, DJ Sets, art, food trucks, Taiko drums and more. To be followed by a Jam for Japan Benefit Concert from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.; event and ticket info here.
Where: Hawthorne Ave., between Highland Ave. and McCadden Pl.
When: 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Admission:Free; open to the public

March 11, 2012

One-Year Memorial Service for Victims of the Eastern Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Tragedy
What: A service to honor the victims of the Eastern Japan Earthquake/Tsunami tragedy. They will have a speaker, and ring the temple's bell at 2:46, the moment the earthquake hit.
Where: Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple @ 815 East First Street, L.A.
When: 2:00 p.m.
Admission: Free

Love to Nippon 2012
What: A memorial event emceed by ABC 7 anchor David Ono, with a documentary screening and panel discussion, as well as opportunity to leave flowers and incense.
Where: LAPD Headquarters - Ronald F. Deaton Civic Auditorium @ 100 West First Street, L.A.
When: 2:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Admission: Free but seating is limited; reservations can be made here

What: The Cal State University Los Angeles department of theater arts and dance will join theaters nationwide to present donated works by major American and Japanese theater artists.
Where: Japanese American National Museum @ 369 E. First St., L.A.
When: 3:00 p.m.
Admission: Free; accepting donations to benefit the Japanese theater community

Nikkei Interfaith Candlelight Vigil
What: A community-wide candlelight vigil on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.
Where: Japanese American National Museum Plaza @ Intersection of 1st Street and Central Ave.
When: 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
More info here

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