The Japan-America Society of Oregon and other organizations are beginning to organize an event to experience the Tōhoku region first hand and lend support to those affected by the March 11 disaster. The trip follows previous “Flights of Friendship” to New York City following September 11th, New Orleans following Katrina, and Thailand and is cosponsored by Azumano Travel and Mercy Corps, with Peace Winds Japan providing support in Sendai.
Sho Dozono, the Japanese American owner of Azumano Travel, has a long history of public service both in his hometown of Portland and through the Flight of Friendship program, which he helped establish in 2001 along with Portland’s then-mayor, Vera Katz.
The expedition is scheduled to leave Portland, Oregon on May 29 and return from Japan on June 4. In addition to spending three days in the Sendai area, the delegation will spend two nights in Tokyo and use the shinkansen (bullet train) to travel between Tokyo and Sendai.
The opportunity to have average Americans travel to Japan and help out is a wonderful idea, and the interpersonal relationships that will be forged are just the kind of bonds that the U.S.-Japan Council strives to build and foster. Any readers in the Portland area should definitely look into this program.
While the details of the trip are still being worked out, the call for volunteers for the journey has already begun. Visit their website at http://flightoffriendship.com/ to learn more as information becomes available, and to register your interest in joining this unique relief effort.