Ten Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster

March 11th, 2021

It has been 10 years since almost 20,000 lives were lost in the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster. The radiation levels have continued to decrease around the Fukushima reactors and now the no-go zone is only about 30 per cent of the original designated area. This has allowed some evacuees to return to their homes, but there are still many municipalities that continue to ban entry to residents and provide no date of reopening because of high radiation levels. The Japanese government continues to struggle with the almighty task of removing 900 tons of melted reactor debris in the three crumpled nuclear reactors.

While the road to recovery remains long and arduous, on this anniversary we would like to share the positive news of a grand milestone reached by OISCA, one of the organizations that was funded by money raised by Handmade for Japan and donated through GlobalGiving

OISCA is involved in the restoration of uprooted forests along the coast of Natori in Miyagi prefecture. These coastal forests act as a buffer zone to mitigate the impact of tsunami, and OISCA aims to regenerate 100 hectares of coastal forest to lessen the impact of future disasters. In October 2020, OISCA reached its goal of planting 370,000 black pine trees and has now entered the next phase of nurturing and maintaining the seedlings.

So on this 10th anniversary, we would like to thank you once again for being a part of Handmade for Japan and for standing up to help the victims of this disaster. It is so hopeful to think that our joint efforts have helped the areas devastated by the disaster to plant trees for future generations. And if you can, please consider giving once more to help these trees to grow and provide a green barrier of natural protection.

Donations on GlobalGiving up to $50 will be matched at 50% from March 8-12, 2021

One Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

March 10th, 2012

One year has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami devastated one of the most picturesque regions of Japan and the Fukushima nuclear calamity almost brought the rest of the country to its knees.

The disaster, however, also brought out the heart-felt compassion from the rest of the world that looked on in horror at the destruction. We at Handmade For Japan witnessed this generous spirit and desire to help from all of you and together we were able to let the Japanese people know they were not alone in their most terrible moment of need.

We raised more than $100,000 that all went to providing post-disaster relief through GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami relief fund. Equally important was the idea that this diverse and disparate community of artists and concerned citizens that connected through Handmade for Japan could make a collective difference.

As we sadly remember the one-year anniversary of the disaster, Handmade For Japan wants to send out the message again that we continue to stand by our Japanese compatriots. To do this, we have produced a new version of our beloved bear logo and are offering a select line of products with this logo for sale at Cafe Press. Please help us let the victims know that they still occupy a special place in our thoughts and hearts by donating through our widget, or by purchasing items from our Cafe Press shop. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the recovery effort.

As the rebuilding effort gathers pace in Eastern Japan, there is still so much that needs to be done. More than 320,000 people are still living in temporary shelters with little prospect of gaining access to permanent housing anytime soon. This is equivalent to the entire population of St. Louis, Missouri. These people have also had to endure one of the coldest winters in recent years.

Moreover, 25 million tons of debris has been collected in the post-disaster cleanup, much of which can be found in huge grotesque mounds that are an obstacle to the rebuilding process. These piles represent a painful reminder to the survivors of everything that they have lost and are also an environmental blot on the landscape.

Handmade for Japan and our global network of supporters want to send a clear and loud message of solidarity and support to the people of Japan and we are by your side in your long and arduous journey of recovery.

Watch the recovery efforts in Tohoku supported by GlobalGiving at: http://www.globalgiving.org/dy/fundraiser/prevfund/gg.html?regid=5005&RF=widget_fundraiser_large5005

Handmade For Japan raises over $100,000!

October 10th, 2011

Yesterday we topped the $100,000 mark with sales of our ceramic raffle tickets which totaled $2,775!

Winners were drawn last night at Ayumi and Kathy’s studio sale in Cottekill, New York and are as follows:
Donna Callejon won the Kathy Erteman platter
Kensuke Yamada won the Ayumi Horie plate
Chris Gray won the Tim Rowan tea cup
Douglas Barr won the Jeff Shapiro chalice
Anne Robinson won a Gomen Kudasai gift certificate
Leigh Williams won a Gomen Kudasai gift certificate

Thank you to all of you who participated and helped make the raffle a big success. Many, many thanks to all our followers and supporters for your generosity, hard work, and good energy this year!

Ceramic Raffle to Support Japan- Drawing on Sunday, October 9th

September 29th, 2011

True to its mission to support Japan through art, Handmade For Japan is sponsoring a ceramic raffle featuring four nationally- and internationally-known ceramic artists: Kathy Erteman, Ayumi Horie, Tim Rowan, and Jeff Shapiro. All of these wonderful artists donated pieces to HFJ’s initial auction last March and all are neighbors in New York’s Hudson Valley. The raffle is being held in conjunction with Ayumi Horie’s annual open studio sale on Columbus Day weekend and as with the HFJ auction–of which Ayumi was a cofounder–all proceeds will go to GlobalGiving’s Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

How to Buy a Raffle Ticket
To buy tickets online, click below.
To buy in person, visit Ayumi’s studio sale in Cottekill, New York where Kathy Erteman will also be showing as a guest artist. All ceramic pieces will be on view at the sale and the drawing will be held at the end of the day Sunday, October 9th. Winners need not be present to win. Winners will be announced online on October 12th.

The sale is held in Ayumi’s 114 year old white country church and this year will include a cooking and plating demonstration. Coincidentally, Tim Rowan is also holding his annual open studio about 15 minutes from Ayumi and Kathy, so make a day of it with art, apple picking, and fall fun.

GlobalGiving’s Good Work
All of the money raised in this raffle will be donated to our charity, GlobalGiving, who continues to command our respect for the good work they do. Recently, GlobalGiving released $600,000 to three grassroots organizations in Japan that are focusing on long-term rebuilding. Two of the organizations serve young adults who are passionate about developing recovery programs, and the third helps small and mid-sized businesses in the Tohoku region. Read more about them here.

Kathy ErtemanAyumi Horie
Kathy Erteman detail Kathy Erteman detailAyumi Horie detailAyumi Horie detail
For more info about Kathy and her platter, click hereFor more info about Ayumi and her plate, click here
Tim Rowan lineJosh Shapiro
Tim Rowan detailTim Rowan detailTim Rowan detailJosh Shapiro detailJosh Shapiro detailJosh Shapiro detail
For more info about Tim and his tea cup, click hereFor more info about Jeff and his chalice, click here

Mamezara Sale starts Monday, September 12, 3pm EST

September 6th, 2011

The Wait is Nearly Over… Handmade For Japan’s Mamezara Sale starts 3pm EST September 12 on Etsy

Handmade For Japan will start selling its Mamezara limited edition plates on Etsy beginning 3pm EST on Monday, September 12th.  Each plate costs $50 and all the proceeds go to GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund, as an anonymous donor is kindly covering all the production costs.

Roasted zucchini cup filled with wild mushroom duxelles, served over roasted red pepper coulis, “full moon” pecorino Romano garnish (prepared and arranged by HFJ’s very own Ai Kanazawa)




On Sale for a Worthy Cause
Each Mamezara has been designed and individually handmade by HFJ’s very own potter-extraordinaire Ayumi Horie. The Mamezara, which in Japanese means small serving dish, is adorned with an origami crane folding pattern. HFJ’s beloved bear logo designed by Dave Gordon appears on the foot. The crane symbolizes our hopes for the people of Japan to rebuild and to let them know we stand with them.

The plates are approximately 4 inches in diameter and are microwave/dishwasher safe. Mamezara dishes are used in Japan for small servings of food, appetizers, or soy sauce for sushi and sashimi. These dishes come in many different shapes and colors and are widely collected because of their versatility and range of designs. HFJ’s Mamezara dish offers a creative way to present food and is ideal for soy sauce or serving bite-sized snacks.

Origami crane folding pattern on front, HFJ logo on back



The Mamezara sale day of September 12 coincides with Otsukimi, or full moon viewing. As we commemorate the 6 month anniversary of the Northern Japan disaster, we also remember the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy in the U.S.

Help HFJ towards our goal of raising $100,000 for the disaster victims in Japan. Come and join in this global fund-raising effort by buying one or more of these lovingly made plates. But be quick because only 55 are available for sale!

Pink pearl apple on mamezara (arranged by HFJ co-organizer, Ai Kanazawa)


Special Update
Sept 14, 2011
We’d like to thank all of you for your outpouring of support! Within 18 hours of the sale opening, all the mamezara had found homes and we are now able to donate the full amount of $2850 to GlobalGiving. Thank you!

Unity Crane Takes Flight

August 24th, 2011

Unity crane by Mignon Khargie for Kizuna Cranes

A specially designed paper crane called “Unity” took flight today with a message to those in Japan still affected by March’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Handmade For Japan and its supporters want to send hope, solidarity, and the promise of renewal with this crane. Inspiringly created by Mignon Khargie, the crane will ‘virtually’ fly around the world to raise donations for GlobalGiving’s Japan relief fund. Its journey via Google Map takes place on a novel website called Kizuna Cranes run by Mcgarrybowen/Dentsu, where people can make donations starting from $10 to sponsor Unity’s travels. The donation will allow the sponsor to print out the design and fold it into a crane. Unity will appear at the sponsor’s location on Google Map and photos and messages can be uploaded by the donor to celebrate the crane’s passage. One especially neat feature of the crane’s journey is that it displays a worldwide network of donors and we hope that this will showcase Handmade For Japan’s global footprint and how we all care about Japan’s recovery from the disaster.

What is the special meaning of the origami Crane and Koi (Carp) depicted in the design? In Japan people fold origami cranes to pray for the fulfillment of a wish, such as for a sick friend to get better or for a grandparent to have a long life. In the Kizuna Crane project, our wish as we fold the crane is for Japan to rebuild and prosper once again. For the design of the crane, Mignon picked a school of carp swimming upstream in both calm and rolling waters to illustrate the qualities of serenity, unity, and perseverance in times of hardship.

Please make a donation today and sponsor Unity’s travels. Having already raised $95,000, Handmade For Japan wants to reach a goal of $100,000 and we hope that you can help us in this endeavor. All the proceeds go to GlobalGiving’s Japan relief fund.

Mignon Khargie is an art director for “San Louie” magazine, published in San Luis Obispo, California, where she lives. She loves to draw animals, is an illustrator at Salon.com, and has written for “Uppercase” magazine. She maintains the blog A Plate A Day and is also the co-founder of the Reading In Public project in San Luis Obispo.

The Craft of Leadership

July 13th, 2011

Kathryn and Ayumi talk to GlobalGiving's New York Leadership Council about the story of Handmade For Japan at the Martha Stewart offices

Monday marked the four-month anniversary of Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters, and we are happy to report that Handmade For Japan’s fundraising efforts have resulted in over $93,000 specifically allocated for GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. Most importantly, that figure is part of an incredible $6.7 million dollars that have been given to GlobalGiving’s Japan programs as a whole. As a result, it was a tremendous honor for us to have been invited to co-present (with Gilt Groupe) for GlobalGiving’s New York Leadership Council at a meeting hosted by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. We feel so grateful to be given the opportunity to speak to this accomplished crowd and feel so proud of GlobalGiving’s amazing work in the world.

This corridor at the Martha Stewart offices looks out on the Hudson River, notice greenery props to the left

After the meeting, head of Crafts, Hannah Milman, kindly gave us a tour of the offices and studios which span one and half city blocks. Don’t let this picture fool you, the place was bustling with hundreds of people hard at work designing new products, testing out recipes, laying out magazine spreads, and a million other cool jobs. Visually, it was a sight to behold!

Color coordinated china storage at Martha Stewart

As you can imagine, this was one of our favorites areas with impeccably organized racks of color coordinated ceramics. What a treat! It was hard to come away not being terribly impressed with the scope and professionalism of this company. Thanks Hannah and all those at Martha Stewart for hosting us!

Wishing Upon a Star

July 7th, 2011

Tanabata at Oomiya shrine in Sendai. photo courtesy of Kulasara Siriwardena

Japanese people today are celebrating Tanabata (the star festival), which literally translated means the 7th evening of the 7th month. According to ancient folklore, Tanabata celebrates the meeting of two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who are separated by a river of stars that crosses the night sky and they are only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. An inspiring tradition of this festival is that people write their hopes and wishes on colorful pieces of paper that are hung on bamboo branches. Ayumi’s 87 year old aunt just related a story about how as children they had to wake up early enough on that day to collect dew in their suzuri (ink stone) so that they could write their wishes on colored paper. Families bought bamboo trees, much like Christmas trees, to hang their wishes and hopes on.

What makes Tanabata especially poignant this year is that Sendai, one of the hardest hit cities in the March earthquake, is the home of the largest Tanabata festival in the country.  In a powerful act of collective spirit, 80,000 Sendai elementary school students folded paper cranes with prayers for the rebuilding of their city. The cranes will be displayed on streamers during Sendai’s Tanabata festival that takes place on 6-8 August.

The Tanabata festival is another reminder how the people of Sendai and northern Japan are still struggling to overcome the trauma and devastation of the March earthquake and tsunami that killed 15,500 people and left another 7,100 still missing. But the people of Sendai and its surrounding communites are rebuilding together and using festivals such as Tanabata to highlight their strong can-do local spirit.

GlobalGiving is continuing to post its reports on their Japan earthquake and tsunami relief funds where you can read about how the money is being spent.

A special thank you to Kulasara Siriwardena of the blog I Stopped At… for permission to use the image above. Read more about it here.

Making Headway Three Months After

June 11th, 2011

We want to acknowledge today’s three month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami by sharing a few links with you. The picture above is one of many chronicling the clean up of debris that can be seen here. It’s truly astounding what progress has been made, yet clearly there is still much work to be done before things return to normal. For instance, 90,000 people still remain in temporary shelters. The anniversary was marked by mass anti-nuke protests across the country and the tide seems to finally be shifting in government  toward renewable energy after consistent and strong public concerns about nuclear energy. The last story regards the Skilled Veterans Corp, a group of retired engineers and other professionals who are mobilizing to replace the flagging Fukushima nuclear plant workers. Whether it will actually happen is another story, but the desire of these pensioners to sacrifice for the younger generation and contribute is truly touching.



一陽来復 Ichiyo Raifuku – Spring Follows Winter

May 11th, 2011

Today is the two month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami. We want to take this moment to send our deepest respects to those affected and lost in the disaster. Thank you to all who have contributed to HFJ and other relief agencies helping Japan. Last night, we crossed the $90,000 mark to $90,166. We are incredibly grateful for the support. Handmade For Japan sends its love, hope and strength to Japan. We stand with you. 一陽来復! Ichiyo Raifuku!