Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Spirit of Japan

Channel 4 recently did a report on the situation in Japan 2 years on from the devastating Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. It was a pretty holistic report, but I was shocked that this was the first time any major news agency had been back to check on the situation, even when thousands are still homeless and suicide rates are still sky rocketing.

It didn’t occur to me immediately that no other news agency had provided follow up coverage on the situation; The reason behind this delayed thought was because it’s been in my newsfeed and therefore my mind constantly since it happened, simply due to the efforts of one man, Enson Inoue.

Enson is a MMA legend and made a name for himself during the glory days of the Pride Fighting Championships in Japan during the nineties. A native of Hawaii, he gained the nickname Yamato Damashii which is the ultimate honour in Japan because it translates to ‘The Spirit of Japan’, which is synonymous with the spirit of the samurai. Essentially, this means a man is ready to die for a cause not simply for the glory of it, but for the enlightenment which comes with the effort put into the task at hand.

Since retiring from professional MMA, he had dedicated himself to running gyms across Japan but this all changed when the disaster struck in 2011. Whilst most people were running away from the disaster zone, Enson decided to run towards it, to help those people who had lost everything, exposing himself to extreme radiation and other dangers.

He started completing missions paying for and delivering everything from  water, clothes, food and other necessary items to those people who had lost all they had. To date, he has done about 24 trips up to northern Japan, each time trying to go with more and more items for those people. Of course, these trips cost a lot of money, but he has built a social enterprise around this mission. He creates spectacular Yamato Damashi Charm bracelets which are all unique and handmade. The meaning behind these bracelets are rooted in Japanese tradition and spirituality. They are said to bring the wearer good fortune, all dependant on the type of stone used to make the bracelet. The proceeds from these bracelets go towards the next mission and toward helping another human being.

Probably the most important part of Enson’s work is the constant updates he provides. He has become a de-facto news agency, reporting through his Facebook page and blog, on the issues which are facing those in Northern Japan on a daily basis.  It truly provides an uncensored insight into the reality of being stuck in the Fukushima area. This is one of the purest forms of charity I have seen in a long while and that’s why it’s pushed me to write something about it. He doesn’t bullshit you, but he instead tells you the truth that your money will be used to buy basic things like water and rice.

More recently however, Enson is taking it to the next level. He has planned a walk across the length of Japan. That’s 1360 miles in 3 months. He will only carry what he can fit in his backpack, so there will be times when he can only eat once a day and he will also have to adhere to strict rules such as only being allowed to sleep indoors if a place is offered to him by a well-wisher. Nevertheless, he has decided to do this do show the struggle some of the Japanese citizens still face every day in Fukushima and surrounding areas. If you wish to donate to this cause, all the money will be donated to charity and in that respect all the donations and pledges made will be collected after the walk is completed. If you want to donate, please send an email to destinyforeverorders@gmail.com , or even get on the website and get yourself a bracelet. Enson will email you once the walk is complete and let you know how you can fulfil your pledge. You will also be able to follow the walk from beginning to end through his Facebook page.

He’s put up a schedule of where he will be during the walk so if you are lucky enough to live in Japan, you can join him along the route and provide moral support whilst personally giving your blood, sweat and tears to the cause.

It’s simple yet effective, no smoke and mirrors; Simply a noble cause which deserves to be noticed and supported. Even if you can’t pledge anything, I advise you all to check out his Facebook page, you’re bound to learn something or at least get a few laughs from Enson’s daily antics.

Below are a few video clips so you can learn a bit more about the man and the cause.

By Viren Samani (@VirenSamani1)  

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