A Space for Gathering and Sharing

WishTreeMarch2011On March 11, 2011, a large earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern side of the Tohoku region of Japan and destroyed much of the area causing a confirmed death toll of approximately 16,000.  More than 2,600 are still missing. When it happened, one of the things that we experienced at our Japanese House exhibit, an authentic house from Kyoto, Japan, was that it became a place for the gathering and sharing of thoughts and prayers of our visitors. Soon after March 11, 2011, the visitation number to the Japanese House visibly increased.  Every day we heard adults talking to their kids about what was happening in Japan and teaching them about a sense of respect and empathy for those who were suffering, in a way that they would understand.  On March 12th, we placed a “wish tree” by the exhibit, and the visitors’ response was very strong. Mao, our intern at the time, organized her schedule several times each day to keep up with and take care of the tree, as many more visitors wanted to add their comments than we had expected. Some visitors even knocked on our office door wondering if there were more comment cards, because previous visitors had used all that we put out. In March 2011, we saw the Japanese House become a participatory place for the entire community.  Continue reading