Whenever a big earthquake happens in the world, I feel a special connection to the event because of my own experience of a devastating earthquake. I came through the Loma Prieta earthquake totally unscathed--I'm nothing if not lucky-- but it was still an event that changed my life. It made me realize how fragile life is, and how my own life is so small. It was a very good lesson for a 19-year old, and I am always grateful for the experience.
The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan was even more relevant to me because of my Japan connection. Some of you may remember that back in the summer of 2007 I went to Kanayama, Japan for a month to do a residency. It was, and remains, one of the highlights of my career. I was not overly concerned for the people who hosted me because they were far enough away from the epicenter, but I knew immediately that I must do something to help. My former hosts are doing something: they have pledged to make 15,000 cups to donate to the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. Many people are homeless and have lost everything, and this is how they are helping people re-stock their cupboards. Cups are everything in Japan, daily tea drinking is part of the everyday culture, so this is not a small gesture.
By the way, 15,000 cups may seem like an impossible number, but the staff at Kanayama has been making 700 cups a day, and at last check they had completed 6,000 cups 12 days ago. This is between 5 people. They are probably done by now. I learned so much about production while I was working there.
I am sending my own donation of cups to Kanayama this week as a token gesture of support. I will also be sending straight cash from sales from a collection cherry blossom vases I made just for this effort. Cherry blossoms are a special symbol in Japanese culture. They also represent the relationship between the United States and Japan. The famous cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC were a gift from Japan in the early 20th century to symbolize the friendship between Japan and the United States. This is particularly poignant to me when I think about World War II, but I will save these thoughts for another day.
In case you have not figured it out yet, I want you to go buy one of my vases right now. 50% of the retail price will go to the Japan cause. They will only be available online until May 6, so don't sit around saying to yourself, "So pretty...!" because then they will be gone and you will lose your chance to get a gorgeous vase AND donate to people who need your money. And when I say "people" I mean myself, too. I need your money. So I can send it to Japan! The vases are moderately priced so they are affordable, not to mention beautiful, one-of-a-kind, and perfect for spring flowers.