Ishinomaki Update #1

Ishinomaki Fund-raiser : Thank You

Sparkling sake bubbled along with the energy of our recent fund-raising event for the tsunami-devastated Ishinomaki in Tohoku. The Consul-General of Japan, Mr Hidenobu Sobashima expressed Japan’s heartfelt gratitude for the assistance from Australia, acknowledging the lessons of the event and their international relevance. Ms Catherine Taylor, former consul and trade commissioner to Sendai movingly described cultural differences and their consequent spiritual and emotional toll.

Courtesy of modern day technology, we were able to have a conversation with filmmaker Paul Johanessen whose powerful documentary first alerted us to the continuing distress in Ishinomaki. Paul had been in Ishinomaki the day before and showed us new footage confronting in its depiction of the chaos that remains one year on. Follow Paul’s updates via his blog.

Generosity was the spirit of the evening nurtured by a host of wonderful sponsors for the raffle and silent auction, and strengthened by the support of the gathered Significant Women and a sprinkling of Significant Men!

To date, and donations are still coming in, we have raised in excess of $12,000. A truly inspiring result. Byron and I shall be in Ishinomaki on April 19 to hand over the funds personally to the local volunteer group. There is also a possibility that Paul Johanessen will be on hand with film crew to create a follow-up to his documentary and the serendipitous benefits for Ishinomaki it has created.

Why Ishinomaki?

Many people have asked why Ishinomaki?  There is, of course, no need to ask why Japan, nor to ask why now, but why Ishinomaki?  Yes, we have artists in the Tohoku area, metal artist Ass. Professor Kaneko Toru in Yamagata for example, who visited Melbourne in 2006 for Aust-Japan Year of Exchange with a number of graduate students. Yamagata was not affected.

I believe that one should take notice of that which falls into one’s circle, that one should assist with that which the universe places in one’s domain. Ishinomaki came into my circle via email and Paul Johanessen’s documentary just as we were considering fund-raising to mark the anniversary of the opening of our gallery at 101 Collins. Paul is an Australian filmmaker living in Tokyo and this augments the Australia-Japan connection. So Ishinomaki came into my circle. That circle is now enlarged by the large number of donors from all over Australia who have read our newsletter and sent donations. Thank you all and welcome to the circle.

If you have not already made a donation and would like to do so, please contact the gallery on 03 9671 4311 or email us at

Our Generous Sponsors:

We would like to introduce you to the sponsors who made such a valuable contribution to the success of the fund-raising:

Most of you will know Kozminsky Fine Jewellery, a Melbourne institution. Director Kirsten Albrecht is a Japanophile, proud owner of over 500 Kokeshi dolls and currently working on a book of her collection. Along with an elegant black pearl bracelet, Kirsten donated a very cute Tohoku Kokeshi doll from her own collection. Kirsten’s book on her collection of Kokeshi dolls is due for publication next year.

Retreat on Spring:
Overlooking Melbourne’s splendid Treasury Gardens, this Spring Street business is an oasis of relaxation and beauty therapy in the busy CBD.

Assin founders Fernanda Kasjan and her son Enrico have a declared soft spot for Japan and source much of their unique and stylish clothing there, a destination preferred over Paris. They left for Japan the day after our event, so be sure to visit soon to see their latest acquisitions.

Chado Urasenke Tankokai Melbourne
Chief Administrator Yuko Jensen will be known to many of our Melbourne clients and friends through their many activities in promoting an understanding of the Way of Tea in Melbourne. Yuko and associates have been part of our gallery’s activities for many years and have prepared many a bowl of tea in the gallery.  Celebrating their 20th anniversary last year, the group welcomed the Grand Master from Kyoto and organized a major event at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Dr Shoso Shimbo
Dr. Shoso Shimbo is a Sogetsu Master who has graced each of our exhibitions at 101 Collins with his beautiful flower installations. A popular teacher of Sogetsu Ikebana, Shimbo–san was challenged recently by contemporary screen artist Maio Motoko to create an installation to complement her work ‘without using a living thing’!

Victor Isobe
Victor Isobe is a noted Melbourne interior architect and designer responsible for many of the ambient interiors of Melbourne’s favourite restaurants and boutiques. The ever popular Yuu restaurant in Flinders Lane was one of Victor’s first, and Assin boutique and Harrolds amongst his most recent.  For uniquely modern Japan inspired design contact Victor.

Wadaiko Rindo
The strong defiant beat of traditional Japanese taiko drums was a perfect metaphor for the resilient Japanese spirit. Toshi and Noriko Sakamoto lead a team of fabulous drummers and started classes in Melbourne in 1996. The first time for many of our guests, the piercing sensual energy of these drums is not easily forgotten.

Director Brian Collie, a part of the Melbourne Fine Art scene for a long time, has recently opened contemporary Asian gallery Melbourne International Fine Art on Collins St with exciting contemporary art from China, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Corporate Catering Solutions
Nick and Kent and team at Corporate Catering fed soul and body during the evening with truly exciting and delicious food. Praise was overwhelming from all present. Their new menu has just been released.

Tokyo Deli
Sae at Tokyo Deli in Glen Huntly Rd has a wide range of excellent sake including that popular sparkling sake served during the fund-raiser. Sake from Tokyo Deli is a feature of our regular sake tastings.