On March 11, 2011 Japan endured a tsunami and earthquake that brought disaster to the Fukushima region of the country. In its rage, it also brought the hazard of the crippled Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Initially listed as a level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, it became a level 7, the highest any nuclear disaster could attain. It joins Chernobyl as the second nuclear disaster to reach such high levels.
Fukushima and Japan are still in great need of international assistance. It is not only a problem for the Japanese people, it is a problem for the world as nuclear contamination affects our oceans, wildlife, the agriculture of Japan and ultimately the health of the world population and our children.
Famous Osaka based artist Ken Hamakazi decided to raise awareness and consciousness to the issue at hand through his special “Red Tea Ceremony.” In the ceremony, a visitor will take off their shoes and kneel on a soft pillow facing Ken, who commences the honored ritual that has been part of Japanese culture for thousands of years. A simple pastry is provided in a little red box, which the participant eats as Ken (the host) prepares the special tea in a golden bowl. Once prepared, the tea is drunk in three sips and then placed back before the host. The bowl is struck, a gong like sound comes forth and Ken bestows the visitor with a gift. (continued below)
While Ken has been performing the Red Tea Ceremony for some time now, recently his tea ceremonies have been committed to Fukushima. He hopes to continue the global conversation about the after effects of the tragic nuclear meltdown and to further prompt a rapid international response so that the need is not greater than it already is.
I personally had the pleasure to participate in the ceremony this past month at Burning Man, where Ken has been attending for over ten years. In revisiting issue, it is clear that any country committed to protecting our environment from nuclear contamination needs to be involved in response. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has received data from the Japanese Government and the Fukushima Monitoring Database (FMD) has been made available to the public just last week. It is up to the global community to rally and respond. The truth about the real effects need to continue to be made known and addressed, and not – as has happened in some cases – revealed simple to “save face” or honor.
I thank Ken for his ceremony. You can read more about Ken’s work and visit his Red Museum in Osaka if you decide to visit Japan. Visit his site to see his schedule of exhibits. For more information about Fukushima and the current state of the disaster, see the links below: