Navy children dress in kimonos, raise money for disaster victims in Japan

Boys clown around in their kimonos during a charity event in Yokosuka, Japan, Sunday, June 11, 2017.


By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 12, 2017

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Children of Navy personnel in Japan tried on kimonos Sunday to help raise money for earthquake and tsunami victims.

The kimono-wearing event at Yokosuka City’s Sogo Fukushi Kaikan building was run by Helping Hands for Tohoku, a group that supports victims of last year’s Kumamoto earthquakes and 2011’s earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan.

Parents paid 2,000 yen each (about $18) — about a third of what it costs to rent a kimono in Tokyo — to dress their children in the traditional garb with the help of Japanese volunteers.

More than 80 children participated.

Volunteers exclaimed “kawaii!” — Japanese for “cute” — as the kids posed in the colorful clothing. Both boys and girls were able to try on full kimonos and shoes. Girls were given traditional hair styles.

Some of the kimonos worn by the kids are almost 100 years old, volunteers said.

Event organizer and Navy spouse Masako Sullivan said the event raised $1,400, which will be used to buy items such as toothbrushes and rice for tsunami survivors living in temporary housing. Some of the cash will support an earthquake-damaged daycare center in Kumamoto, she said.

Helping Hands for Tohoku was formed by Navy spouses and local volunteers in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster and has 280 members. Its 280 members have provided disaster victims with food and water, playground equipment and scooters, Sullivan said.

Navy spouse Karen Fahrney, who was been with the group since its founding, said relief efforts for victims are still needed, even six years after the earthquake.

“There hasn’t been as much need as there was in the beginning,” she said. “We aren’t collecting clothing anymore. Many of the communities are doing well now but the elderly population in temporary housing are going to be there indefinitely and still appreciate the support. There are still needs that need to be met.”


Japanese volunteers sort through a pile of kimonos, some of which are nearly 100 years old, during a charity event in Yokosuka, Japan, Sunday, June 11, 2017.

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