2020 Activity Report

March Activity Report

31 March 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

Due to popular demand from the students, we decided to continue the Language Exchange Club into the Spring period. According to our questionnaire, everyone is enjoying learning and developing their language skills in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

Spring period in Japan is the time for a new academic year. For students in the UK, it is the period when everyone gets ready for the end of year exams which start in May and continue into June. It is a period of transition.

The lockdown in London has begun to ease. However, the government warns us that we have to be careful not to become too relaxed. Despite the times we are living in, people are still enjoying sunny days in Russell Square where they are welcomed by lovely daffodils and curious squirrels.


Russell Square just round the corner from SOAS

February Activity Report

28 February 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

The February London Report features more news about the latest developments in the Language Exchange club that was set up by the GJO London office in January.

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th meetings of the club took place in February, and everything seems to have settled down nicely. Students were separated into a number of breakout rooms where they could discuss whatever topics caught their fancy. They were also provided with a list of topics which could be the base of discussion just in case they ran out of things to talk about. The groups are not fixed and their composition changes each time round.

As organiser, I set the classroom up in Zoom, let the students into the meeting, and allocated them to each classroom. I then remained in the main room in order to solve any problems that might arise. The idea is to have about one hour to practice language in a friendly situation. We have many regular students, there is a great atmosphere and everyone is beginning to get to know each other. I’m very pleased it is going so well.

If as it seems the students are keen to continue, the meetings will go on into March.

January Activity Report

31 January 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

A Happy New Year to one and all!

My January London Report concerns the first session of the new Language Exchange club that the GJO London office has set up.

The club had 12 Japanese native-speakers and 7 English native-speakers. As it was the first time, we all introduced ourselves both in Japanese and English. It was also the first time I had ever organised a zoom meeting, so I was a little nervous but fortunately everything went smoothly.

In all the session went on for 40 enjoyable minutes the normal limit for a zoom meeting. However, fortunately for some reason, we were able to carry on a little longer and had time to discuss the various ways we might develop our language exchange club.

I will be letting you know about all the latest developments.

December Activity Report

31 December 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

My December London Report features an interview with SOAS PhD student, George! I asked Georgette Nummelin to tell us about how her research studies have been developing.

1) Please give a brief introduction of yourself

I’m currently a part time PhD student at SOAS, in my fifth year of study. I was lucky enough to be awarded a Great British Sasakawa Foundation Studentship for 2019-2021. When I am not studying or on fieldwork, I work as a learning support assistant at a performing arts school in south London.

2) What made you study PhD at SOAS?

I did my undergraduate degree at SOAS, studying music and Japanese, and knew straight away that when I did my PhD, I wanted it to be at SOAS. It is such a diverse place, and I knew that there wouldn’t be any problems focusing on a more unusual topic!

3) Could you tell us how you got interested in researching Ainu culture?

I was played some Ainu music in a lecture during my undergraduate degree and instantly found it really interesting and beautiful. I started listening to more Ainu music, and reading more about Ainu culture, and when I went to study in Tokyo, at Ochanomizu Women’s University for my year abroad, I went to Hokkaido a number of times and visited Ainu museums and cultural centres. After that, I quickly began to think that one day I would do a PhD on something to do with contemporary Ainu culture.

4) How has your research been progressing?

So far, my research has been going very well. I have been able to visit Hokkaido a number of times since my PhD began, and have also attended Ainu events in Tokyo, such as the Charanke Matsuri, which is a joint Ainu and Okinawan festival. I have also been doing a lot of digital ethnography – communicating with Ainu people, and those interested in Ainu culture, in Japan, but also in other countries, like the USA.

Covid-19 has caused a lot of problems as I was unable to visit Japan in 2020, but thankfully I have been able to continue my digital ethnography, and have conducted a number of interviews over Skype. However, in some ways the pandemic created new opportunities as there were more online talks, seminars, and conferences taking place. Working from home also meant I could attend ones that didn’t start until the middle of the night too! Hopefully I will be able to make it back to Japan this year.

5) What have you found fascinating about Ainu culture?

I find so many aspects of Ainu culture really interesting, from the language and music, to spiritual practices and Ainu embroidery! I think it is really crucial not to ignore or forget about Indigenous cultures, as their knowledge and traditions are as important as ever.

6) Is the Ainu language very different from the Japanese language?

Ainu is very different from Japanese. Ainu is a language isolate, which means that we haven’t found any links with other languages. It didn’t have its own writing system, so either romaji or katakana are used. It’s critically endangered, as very few people can speak it now. However, thankfully, more people are beginning to learn it, and you can hear Ainu in contemporary music, so hopefully the language will become stronger over time.

7) Are there any books to study Ainu culture that you recommend?

There are now a lot of good quality resources to help people learn about Ainu culture, but these are some of my favourites:

New to Ainu culture:

Sarah Strong (2011). Ainu Spirits Singing.
Shigeru Kayano (1980). Our Land was a Forest.

More Academic:

Mark Watson (2016). Japan’s Ainu Minority in Tokyo.
Ann-Elise Lewallen (2016). The Fabric of Indigeneity.

Ainu Language:

ニューエクスプレス アイヌ語 – 2013
Drops App – this app gives you free Ainu vocabulary
Sekine Maya’s YouTube channel – Sito Channel

Ainu music recordings:

Umeko Ando. (2011). Ihunke.
Marewrew. (2012). Mottoite, hissorine.
Oki Dub Ainu Band. (2016). Utarhythm.
ToyToy. (2016). Ramu.

Other resources:

Fukunaga Takeshi’s Ainu Mosir (2020) is now available, and it is a brilliant movie that gives a real understanding of being Ainu today.

8) Please add anything more you want to say.

It is really worth finding out more about Indigenous cultures around the world, and supporting movements to help sustain and revitalise communities, cultural practices, and languages. Once that knowledge is lost, it is lost forever, and our lives are poorer for it. For a more equitable and sustainable future for all of us, I think it is really important to not just document, but actually support our Indigenous communities. Iyayraykere! ありがとう! Thank you!

Photos provided by Georgette

Biratori Ainu Museum
Georgette in Biratori
Charanke Matsuri in Tokyo
ToyToy Paper Workshop in Sapporo

November Activity Report

30 November 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

The November London report is about a lesson in Ainu folk singing, another style of Japanese music which has been added to the SOAS Minyo repertory.

The person who helped us to learn Ainu folk songs is George Numellin who has been studying at the SOAS Music Department. She is in the latter stages of her doctorate.

George introduced us to the Ainu musical instruments; Mukkuri and Tonkori. They are both made by hand. According to George, Mukkuris are relatively easy to get hold of, but Tonkoris are very rare.

Now, it was time to learn this lovely singing style. The first song we were introduced to was called Pirka Pirka. First of all, George showed us how to sing the song, and after that we all sang together. We repeated this method a few times. After mastering the singing, George taught us to sing in a circular canon, as it is meant to be sung in this style. When we sing in a canon, only one person’s microphone is on and rest of us sing in mute. Although one couldn’t hear the others’ voices, it was lovely singing together. A singing class of this nature is so beneficial for both physical and mental health.

The second tune had a strong character, and seemed a little more difficult than the previous song. It was called Itasan Kata, and was sung in a circular canon as well. I am sure it would be possible to learn the rudiments of the Ainu language from singing songs.

Even though we can’t be with each other in person, it is absolutely wonderful doing musical activities using Zoom. When I start to think about the next time we gather together and start singing the circular canon, I get very excited indeed.

Please watch out for the next update!

Pirka Pirka
Minyo lesson
Minyo lesson

October Activity Report

31 October 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

The main topic of the October London report is a webinar aimed at bringing the culture of Ainu people to people’s attention which was organised by Japan House (a kind of Japanese Culture Centre situated in London).

The participants in the zoom discussion came from 4 different locations around the globe. A documentary film maker, Ms. Mizoguchi Naomi was in New York; Mr. Sekine Kenji who is originally from mainland Japan and teaches Ainu language and his wife Mrs. Sekine Maki who is Ainu and teaches Ainu traditional craft were in Nibutani, Hokkaido; Mr & Mrs Sekine’s daughter, Ms Sekine Maya, who studies at Keio University and teaches Ainu language online, was from Fujisawa City, Kanagawa; and Mr Simon Wright who organised this webinar and who is a programme director at Japan House was in London.

Ainu culture is gradually getting some exposure in London, although it has always been around. Personally, I remember seeing Ainu people giving a beautiful demonstration of their songs including lullabies in the early 1990s at the Museum of Mankind which was a branch of British Museum.

There was a play of and by Ainu people in a small theatre in London last year which sold out and was very well received. Unfortunately, I was unable to catch it.

I am looking forward to having more opportunities to learn about Ainu culture. In the zoom discussion the fact that a lot of Ainu can’t speak the Ainu language including elderly people was one of the issues raised. Mizoguchi has made a documentary which shows many Ainu seriously learning the Ainu language.

From top left clockwise: Mizoguchi Naomi in New York; Sekine Maya in Fujisawa, Kanagawa; Simon Wright in London; Sekine Kenji & Maki in Nibutani, Hokkaido.

In actual fact, there is a PhD student at SOAS researching Ainu music. It also seems that we are going to learn Ainu folk music in our Minyo Class from November. I will report about this in the future.

The new academic year started in October, and Minyo class has begun online practice using Zoom. The autumn Qin class has begun as well. I would like to show some photos of these classes.

Minyo class with Dr. David Hughes and Professor Gina Barnes
Dr. Cheng Yu teaching Qin in Zoom class

Halloween was at the end of October. Usually, shops, pub and restaurants decorate their interiors with a Halloween theme which often makes you feel as if you are on a Halloween film set. This year is extremely quiet. But I found a little Halloween decoration at a shopping centre near the University area. I found a witch wearing a white gown floating in the air glaring at pedestrians outside Yo Sushi which is the UK version of Sushi-go-round; although thanks to covid, Yo Sushi has been shut for quite a while now.

Halloween decoration at shopping centre near the University area.

September Activity Report

30 September 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

The topic for the September London report is Japan Matsuri UK online, an event organised by the Japan Embassy of London which took place on the 26th and 27th of September. I had the privilege of asking the organiser, Mr. Callum Forbes to write an article especially for the readers of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies GJO website.

Japan Matsuri is an annual culture festival of Japanese food, music, performance, martial arts and more, taking place on Trafalgar Square in London in the Autumn. My involvement in the festival began in 2018, when the then Cultural Attache Shinju Karasawa was recalled to Japan midway through the organisation period for Japan Matsuri. The embassy had been supporting the programming, of both the main stage performances and the martial arts stage, as part of a wider committee of organisers that has amongst it representatives from across the Japanese business and cultural world. In that year the programme was already decided and I took over alongside Akari Mochizuki to continue with the administration and to manage the stage on the day.

From the following year, I was the Head of Programming for Japan Matsuri from the beginning of the organisational window, so I would say that my first ‘proper’ year of Japan Matsuri was in 2019. Working closely with Akari, we put together a programme for 2019 that introduced new performers and restructured the performance scheduling. My usual role at the Embassy of Japan is Coordinator for Cultural Affairs, working in a team of four to put on the Embassy’s cultural events from exhibitions held in the embassy itself, to festivals and events taking place outside of the Embassy such as Tanabata in Kew Gardens or Tatton Park, and other smaller festivals like Hammersmith Park and, of course, Japan Matsuri.

2020 was naturally an unusual year, and we knew from early on that an event on Trafalgar Square was out of the question. However, we (the Japan Matsuri Committee) remained undecided for some time as to whether or not we would attempt an online event for 2020. To me, Japan Matsuri was best placed to transfer to an online event that could be meaningful, in a way that many of the other activities conducted by the embassy cannot, so I made detailed proposals for an online Japan Matsuri which were agreed by the committee. We decided that we would take an inclusive stance, providing a platform for both regular artists who contribute to Japan Matsuri and also to artists from across the Japanese creative community who had had events cancelled in 2020. We had no idea what the situation would be in September when we began organising, so we decided it was safest to pre-record most content, but to have a live MC for the event. We also agreed early on that we wanted to minimise re-running content from previous Matsuri as far as we could, instead preferring new content where possible.

We had originally planned Japan Matsuri 2020 as the closing ceremony for the Japan UK Season of Culture, and as such we were planning on bringing Tomioka High School Dance Club over to the UK to perform. This would have been a drastic change from 2019, which saw an Iwami Kagura performance take to the Main Stage as the headline act. It was a great shame that we were unable to do this, but instead the club filmed two fantastic performances for us, both of which were very well received!

The event itself was produced to high quality with significant help from Raspberry South Studios in Dorking, who put on a very professional looking production. On the day of the event, we decided I would be joining Haruka as MC(!) so the event was also my MC debut which I thoroughly enjoyed. All in all, the event was viewed by 30,000 people across all channels, and much more importantly than that, acted as a motivator for groups across London, the UK and beyond to get creative and contribute something for the event. We couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support of an astonishing number of people, and the event itself is a tribute to the hard work and determination of people from across the Japan related creative sectors!

(From left to right) Callum Forbes, Haruka Kuroda, Akari Mochizuki on set for Japan Matsuri Presents
Instrument creator, Ichi sets up to play live from the studio
Online premiere of Hyakka Ryoran which was produced for TDC’s annual show
Online premiere of TDC new dance to Erotica Seven

It was a fantastic article written by Callum Forbes for the readers of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies website.

Now, I would also like to write a few words about the alternative Matsuri, Ura Matsuri, which because of this year’s extraordinary circumstances, was included as a part of the 2020 online Japan Matsuri.

Ura Matsuri which has been going since 2016 was set up to promote UK-based Japanese artists at a grass roots level providing entertainment to the local community. It is also keen to include culture from other Asian countries on their bill to promote an idea of Asia as one.

This year, Ura Matsuri was invited by Matsuri to have a one-hour slot of their own on their online event. The MCs were a London-based Japanese grandma and a Gaijin Grandad. Ura Matsuri featured a wide range of performances including improvisation music, an installation art performance, pop music, a singing and dancing group, tsugarushamisen & DJ collabolation, an Enka singer, a short film and much more.

Ura Matsuri presented another side of Japanese culture and entertainment. I was pleased to see Ura Matsuri presented in this year’s very special Matsuri.

Grandma & grandad in their strange garden

August Activity Report

31 August 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

The topic for the August London Monthly report is a webinar talk organised by the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation on the 6th of August.

The talk was given by Mr Michimasa Hirata who is a survivor, a hibakusha of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

Mr. Hirata has dedicated his life to passing on his horrendous experience to younger generations, so that we will never again repeat the mistake of using nuclear weapon on other human beings.

Mr. Hirata’s message is clear and I would like to translate some of his words in this report.

Mr. Michimasa Hirata, a survivor of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima
Devastation after the bomb
Photo: Mr. Hirata as a young child

Mr. Hirata explains, “My mother and two sisters had already been evacuated to the suburbs. I reached the suburban area where my mother and sisters were living at night on August 6th.”

“When my mother saw me, she ran out and hugged me, saying ‘So you’re still alive. Thank God! Thank God!’”

Mr. Hirata recalls the following.

“Under the GHQ occupation from 1945 to 1952, the Press Code was issued on the atomic bomb [meaning censored.] Nobody knew what happened in Hiroshima.”

“In addition, there was certain discrimination against the hibakusha and we could not talk about our experiences.”

“In 1995, when Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, was planned as the permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in America, the atomic bomb exhibit, which had been planned as a side event, was suddenly cancelled due to opposition from the veteran’s association.”

“I saw on the television news that there were demonstrations towards the White House against the cancellation, and I saw one of my work colleagues taking part in a demonstration. I asked him about it the following day and he told me that he had taken a day off work to participate in the demonstration. I realised for the first time that my colleague was also a hibakusha.”

“Then I started to think whether there was anything I could do as one of the survivors!!”

Mr. Hirata’s activities in America, Israel, New Zealand and other countries since 1995.

Michi’s message for the young generation:

“Today’s nuclear bombs are said to have 100 or 1,000 times the power of the one dropped on Hiroshima and our current political situation remains as critical as it was during the Cold War, worse than it ever has been in terms of the Doomsday Clock.”

“It is said that if one bomb were used today, 100 million people would die.”

“It may be difficult in practice to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world, but even so I think it is important that people, especially young people, learn how terrible nuclear weapons are.”

“To avoid such memories fading, we should never give up speaking out about our past mistakes, through peace education and self-education such as

Listening to the direct testimony of Hibakusha or war witnesses or online Testimony/ oral histories.

Watching films, videos or plays.

Reading books novels, or cartoons about the event.

Visit Hiroshima and / or Nagasaki.”

Mr. Hirata’s message of peace education through educating ourselves is an important factor in bringing peace to the world. This webinar was very educational for me.

A slightly different type of graffiti on a wall in central London

“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”

It’s the end of August and leaves are falling from the trees. Autumn is in the air.

July Activity Report

31 July 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

The first item in my July London report concerns my online visit to an SOAS Minyo group lesson led by Ethnomusicologist, Dr. David Hughes. I was fascinated to join in on the session and discover how musicians keep practicing during the lockdown. I would also like to discuss how the newest practice song “Senzoku Mugiuchi-Uta” was chosen.

Minyo (Traditional Japanese Folk Songs) has been created and passed on for and through the generations by ordinary people. One aspect of it is as a type of work song: the rhythm matching the working motion. After the endless wave of modernisation, Minyo which had been strongly related to work songs began to disappear from people’s life, and the Association of protection and maintenance of Minyo tradition needed to be set up.

Dr. Hughes is a long-term Japanese Minyo researcher who has been visiting Japan since he was a research student: recording, annotating, learning instrumentation and playing songs. He has in his time recorded and appeared on both Japanese TV and Radio. At the same time as writing many books and articles in journals, he has put a lot of energy into the SOAS Minyo club which is open to everyone and can be enjoyed by all. It’s important that Minyo with its profundity, emotional expressions and vitality should not be forgotten but remain popular amongst the modern generation.

Practice sessions using Zoom online have the benefit of allowing you to practice with other people while remaining at home. However. there are still some technical problems such as delay in sound transmission. To play and sing together in unison requires hard work and real skill and will really benefit from a few more advances in current technology.

As I mentioned, the first song to be practiced by the class had the title, “Senzoku Mugiuchi-Uta” (Senzoku – Wheat beating song). The reason for the selection of this piece is that Dr. Hughes sang this song when he was young and it was recorded and put on an album at the time. Recently, a director of NHK heard the song and fell in love with it. Because in his own words, he felt “it has an Earthy feeling”. So, NHK FM Radio are going to broadcast Dr. Hughes singing the song sometime in August. Unfortunately, it is a domestic broadcast only. If you have time, please tune in to it. You may discover unknown Japan.

“Sonzoku Mugiuchi-Uta” reminds you of the Japanese people’s roots in agriculture and is a nice introduction to Japanese Blues. I am enjoying learning about this aspect of my culture.

Lyrics from “Senzoku Mugiuchi-uta
Record cover
Dr. Hughes in his research mission
Dr. Hughes and his partner, Professor Barnes (T.V. show)
The same couple playing in front of the guests at the Award Ceremony for The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette honour at the Embassy of Japan in the UK, London in March 2018.

Photos 2-5 are from the internet. You can hear Dr Hughes singing “Senzoku Mugiuchi-Uta” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=hViLLgRkC08

The second item relates to a Summer course that The London Youlan Qin Society organises every year. Allow me to explain a little about it. The instructor is Dr. Cheng Yu, who has a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from SOAS. She is a Pipa researcher, and refined player of that instrument as well as being an astonishing Qin player and teacher.

This class uses Zoom to share teaching. Everyone has a Qin of their own, and each student takes turns to practice. After playing, Dr. Cheng gives appraisal and advice in order to improve technique and feeling. The Qin is a very special instrument: it has a strong relationship with Chinese poems and a sensitive and quiet sound which inspires reflection and relaxation. I think it is a sound wave for healing. I read somewhere that the pitch of Qin in ancient China was changed each time the ruling house changed.

The practice tune is called “Wild Geese Descend on a Sandbank” and it is a quintessential Qin tune. It starts with the slow and quiet harmonic sounds of strings which makes you think that you are faced with a lonely landscape in front of you. Then the rhythm starts to pick up and become lively. After playing the tune, you really feel that you have travelled with Wild Geese. Nowadays, I strongly feel that music is an indispensable and essential element of human existence.

Qin Summer course taught by Dr. Cheng Yu (top left)

June Activity Report

30 June 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

For my London June Report I would like to write about a webinar organised by Japan Foundation UK. The title of the talk is “How Do They Read? – Voices and Practices of Japanese Literature Translators.”

Ms Junko Takekawa from The Japan Foundation began the session by introducing the panel. Then, Professor Stephen Dodd who is a specialist in Japanese Modern literature took over the talk as panel discussion leader.

Professor Dodd introduced two translators, Polly Barton and Ginny Tapley Takemori both of whom have been working as translators of Japanese literature into English.

Ginny studied Japanese at SOAS, and began her career by translating Catalan into English. Polly went to Sado Island to teach English after studying at Cambridge. When she returned to the UK, she took an MA in translation at SOAS.

Both of them feel that one needs to have a lot of dedication to be a translator, especially as the financial reward is not that high. They both agree that you have to enter into a special space between the two languages when translating.

Their focus is how one can bring Japanese into the English world by getting inside the novel and trying to express its essence in English. It is a translator’s work to find voices and a language which fit the novel.

Professor Dodd asked the panellists “to what extent can translation be original? Is the translation always inferior to the original text?”. Polly said that she doesn’t feel the translation is inferior. Ginny explained “A book is like a piece of music which needs the readers to perform it. The translator is making a new score and taking the novel to a wider field. Ginny feels that it is important for the translator to be visible so their role in the process can be appreciated.

They all agree that it is difficult to differentiate between the male and female languages in Japanese. It is also difficult to express local dialects in translation. In situations like this, they always think about who they are translating for. Is it for the author, or readers? They also feel that one has to get inside the characters to make a translation feel natural.

Many more interesting points were raised and it was a very exciting discussion about the inside world of translation. I hope many more Japanese novels get translated into English in the future.

Webinar Title & Ms. Junko Takekawa


Professor Stephen Dodd

Panel Discussion. Professor Dodd, Ginny, Polly

Professor Dodd, Ginny, Polly, Ms. Takekawa

May Activity Report

31 May 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

For my May London Report, I would like to write briefly about an online talk using Zoom organised by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. The event was titled “The keys to combat COVID-19: vaccines, treatments, and immunity”, and it took place on Thursday the 14th of May, in the afternoon, 12pm London time. Over 130 people participated in the event.

As the talk took place over Zoom, there was the further benefit that anyone in the world could participate. Usually, talks take place in a room in the building of the Daiwa Foundation, and obviously access is restricted. However online, there is no limit to the size of the audience.

One of the speakers at the event was Dr. ONO Masahiro, who is an immunologist with expertise in T-cells (a type of lymphocyte) at Imperial College London. In his talk, Dr. Ono explained how our immune system battles the COVID-19 infection and how it can be defeated in severely affected patients.

Dr. Ono highlighted the key role of lymphocytes and their ‘memory’ function in recovery and immunity. He then reviewed current global efforts in developing treatments and vaccines and clarified the issues that need to be resolved.

I forgot completely to take any pictures of the event, as I was too busy trying to understand Dr. Ono’s fascinating talk. There was time for a Question and Answer session after the event and many important and interesting issues were raised.

One question that I remember well is “It is said that there are two types of COVID-19: the Wuhan type and the European type. Is this true?” Dr. Ono answered that there is no confirmation that COVID-19 mutates as far as current research shows. Therefore, at the moment there are no grounds for differentiating COVID-19 into a Wuhan and European type strain.

The event lasted for about an hour and a half and was highly enlightening on a subject that greatly affects us all at the moment.

In my April report, I displayed what the area around SOAS looked like during lockdown. Near the end of May, a new rule was announced that up to 6 people are allowed to gather together outdoors if they respect social distancing. Immediately after the announcement, Gordon Square which had been closed until that moment re-opened its gates. Local residents who had been patient and resisted the temptation of a picnic in the sun, came out and enjoyed a Sunday afternoon outdoors whilst still respecting social distancing.

While admiring the elegant movement of tree branches swaying in the wind and listening to the rustling sound of leaves created by the wind, I find myself entering into a trance state for a very brief moment. I feel being close to nature is a good remedy and way to escape the stressful situations caused by COVID-19. Today I re-confirmed the profound healing power of nature.

The photo for the event provided by Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

People gathering under the sun while respecting social distancing at Gordon Square

April Activity Report

30 April 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Taguchi Kazumi

The April London report is all about how London is coping with the Covid 19 virus. The country is in lockdown and no-one is allowed to go outside except to buy food and for daily exercise. Those people who are out are mainly people working in hospitals, care homes, public services, companies delivering meals to customers, and supermarkets and shops which deal with daily products. The city is very quiet.

Below, I include some photos of Bloomsbury where many University students live and study. It is devastatingly empty.

Sadly, in the UK, the number of deaths caused by Covid 19 has become the largest in Europe. People working in hospitals and care homes are working incredibly hard under difficult circumstances which include having an insufficient supply of protective clothing in order to help them save people’s lives.

What we need most now is a way of saving people who have became critically ill before they lose their life. Let’s hope that current investigation and research soon leads to a breakthrough in tackling the problem.

There is an online event using zoom organised by Daiwa Foundation about Corvid 19 on the 14th of May. The title of the talk is “The key to Corvid: vaccines, treatments and immunity”. I will report about the talk next month. Stay safe everyone!

Empty streets to the south of Euston station, an area which contains a large amount of student accommodation


Main street of the University area.


This building used to be a petrol station until about 15 years ago.


People queueing at the supermarket.


Gordon Square looking north.


Gordon Square looking south, towards SOAS.