Joining forces with Mitsubishi, The Japan Society, and one of Japan’s premier newspapers the Asahi Shimbun, Choice Productions NYC staff had the pleasure of working as the support staff for the Great East Japan Earthquake Press Photo Exhibition last week. The event was held in the beautiful Vanderbilt Hall of Grand Central Station, and was open to the public from February 27th through March 3rd.
The photo exhibition has been traveling the World for the past year, making stops in various countries that provided assistance after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. The humanitarian response was tremendous, and Mitsubishi, The Japan Society, and Asahi Shimbun decided to display the photo exhibition for educational reasons, and as a thank you to the American people. The thank you was also directed to the United States armed forces, which were among the first responders. Our armed forces quick response and rescue efforts made a large impact on the conservation of life, and has strengthened the military alliance between the Japan and America.
With March 11th, 2014 marking the 3 year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, it was time for the photo exhibition to make its final stop in New York. While the content of the exhibition was serious and solemn, leaving many with red teary eyes, there was a positive sentiment among the 10,000 plus visitors who made their way through the gallery. The photo exhibition truly displayed a poignant timeline that fully encompassed the initial destruction, through the rebuilding process.
In one of the most memorable photographs of the gallery, Asahi Shimbun photographer Toshiyuki Tsunenari displays the level of destruction and misery that many Japanese endured. The photograph shows a crying woman sitting on the side of a road, amid the destruction only 2 days after the earthquake and tsunami. The photograph won third prize in the prestigious General News Singles category of the annual World Press Photo contest. Full of expressive photographs like Toshiyuki Tsunenari’s, the gallery successfully presented the human condition, and how powerless we can be. But in the end, the overall message was to represent mankind’s ability to overcome any challenge by offering a helping hand, and working together.
In the center of the Gallery, stood a Cherry Tree, with its iconic pink blossoms in bloom, representing the fact that beauty can be reborn after disaster. Here, guests could write short messages, prayers, condolences, and well wishes to those who lost their lives, or those who are still struggling to get back on their feet in Japan. The messages were then hung amongst the branches and cherry blossoms on the tree. Over the five-day span, hundreds of messages, in more than ten languages, were hung from the branches. The messages have been sent to Japan, with the goal of providing strength and hope to those who are still struggling. Overall, it was a beautiful and powerful sentiment.
As guests made their way through the Gallery, Choice Productions NYC staff were there to answer questions about the Earthquake and Tsunami, educate the guests about some of the award winning photographs, and even to console those who needed someone to talk to after their