Japan: Performances by XUXU Bring Cheer to Disaster Zone

AAR JAPAN has been working with XUXU, an all-female a cappella quartet that has been singing at charity concerts organized by AAR JAPAN, and which also wrote songs to accompany AAR JAPAN’s picture book, “Not Mines, But Flowers”.

The Hometown Ambassadors of Ofunato City in Iwate Prefecture, XUXU visited Ofunato from May 15th – 17th, and again from August 5th – 8th to raise people’s spirits in one of the regions hardest-hit by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Yuki YOSHIZAWA, AAR JAPAN Tokyo office staff, reports.

Live Concerts at Schools, Evacuation Centers, Facilities for the Elderly

XUXU held mini-concerts in 7 locations, including facilities supported by AAR JAPAN, with the hope of raising the spirits of people living in evacuation centers and children who lost their parents in the earthquake. XUXU matched their music to the age of each audience, singing everything from well-known favorites such as “Furusato” and the Mickey Mouse March to “Nada Sousou” and rhythmic African music. They also sang their original tune “OHLA! Sanma!”, the song that led to their being chosen as Ofunato’s Hometown Ambassadors. The song is about the saury (or “sanma”), a fish that is famously caught in Ofunato.

May 15th – XUXU sings at Camelia Hall, which is being used as an evacuation center. From left: Yuki, Asuka, Noriko, and Yumi.

May 16th – At Kura House Ofunato, a facility for the elderly. People clapped in time to the song “OHLA! Sanma!”, which is universally well-received throughout the city.

August 6th – Young children imitate Mickey Mouse at Suezaki Nursery School.

August 7th – A mini concert held at a shopping center, entitled “Prayers for Recovery”.

For the People Who are Working for Ofunato’s Recovery

We visited not only evacuation centers, but also a newspaper publisher and Ofunato City Hall. The people there had suffered from the earthquake just like everyone else, but even so, they have been working tirelessly for Ofunato’s recovery. Although we wanted to offer them a moment to relax, instead we found ourselves encouraged by their words, as they insisted that it was their duty to pass on information about the earthquake to future generations, and that overcoming the difficulties of today will strengthen Ofunato’s confidence in itself for the future. They even encouraged everyone in the country not to forget about the earthquake as time passes, and to keep getting involved in relief efforts and events.

May 15th – Delivering a message from China to the people in Ofunato City Hall. (At right is Yuki YOSHIZAWA of AAR JAPAN)

August 6th – XUXU sang at the offices of Tokai Shinposha, which publishes a newspaper for the area including Ofunato City, Rikuzen-takata City, and Sumita Town of Kesen County.

Summer Festivals Praying for Recovery

There are normally many festivals held in the Tohoku region throughout August, but due to the disaster, many of them were canceled or reduced in scale. XUXU took part in the remaining festivals, joining in the efforts of those who hoped to restore cheer to Ofunato.

As an a cappella group, as long as the four members are together, XUXU can sing anywhere without instruments or microphones. They sing not only in evacuation centers and schools, but even at the restaurants they visit, bringing tears to the eyes of their listeners. Wherever they are, XUXU’s members bring out the most in their music.

August 5th – XUXU sang aboard a ship at ”Never Give Up, Ofunato” a recovery festival that was attended by many fishermen.

August 6th – Tanabata Festival in the Sakari area of Ofunato. We also participated in the opening ceremony, sending balloons aloft with wishes for recovery.

Yuki YOSHIZAWA, AAR JAPAN Tokyo office
In charge of public relations and supporters at AAR JAPAN’s Tokyo office. Worked at a computer systems company for six and a half years after graduation from university. Joined AAR JAPAN in December 2007. (Born in Chiba Prefecture)