Song is a powerful means of expression. It can be both soothing and uplifting, and it can unite people in faraway places and difficult times. In Japan, singing helped many people to cope with the devastation wrought by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
YUZU is a folk rock duo whose music is enjoyed by Japanese people of all ages. Its members include Yujin Kitagawa and Koji Iwasawa, who both sing and play the guitar. Since the disaster, YUZU has continued to hold free concerts in the afflicted regions, performing on temporary stages. Their music has helped to comfort and encourage the victims. The duo, who got their start performing on the streets of Yokohama, are only too pleased to help. “Seeing the smiles in the audience reminds us of when we first started playing,” says Kitagawa. “There's no better feeling than moving others through music.”
Many of YUZU's songs are about overcoming sadness or frailty and inspiring people to look forward in life. The lyrics of YUZU's song, Eiko no Kakehashi (Bridge to the victory) are written on the clubhouse wall of a local high school baseball team, a facility that is now being used as an evacuation center. The words have been a daily source of encouragement for many of the residents.
Last year YUZU announced the release of its 38th single, Tomo - Tabidachi no Toki, which is also be featured on the duo's latest album announced on February 19, 2014. Dedicated to the people in the afflicted regions, Tomo is a soothing piano and string melody. It has had a harmonizing effect on people all over Japan, and it was also selected as the set piece for the Junior High School Division of The Nationwide Contest of Music sponsored by NHK. Since then Japanese people have come to love hearing Tomo performed by large student choruses.
Choruses that invite their audiences to sing along can be an effective way to bring people together and strengthen bonds. They are now being promoted to invigorate local communities throughout Japan, and are especially popular in the northeastern regions. No doubt they will provide a major boost to the recovery efforts.