New Emissary

Creative Japan Aid, Big and Small

Recent Features

New Emissary

Creative Japan Aid, Big and Small

From a pop concerts to handmade hats, relief efforts for victims of the earthquake and tsunami are going strong.

Even international pop sensation Lady Gaga has gotten on board. The singer has donated $1.5 million from the sales of a wristband featured on her website to the Japan relief effort. And it’s just been announced that she’ll be heading to Tokyo in a few months to perform at a June 25 MTV benefit show for the Japanese Red Cross.

Whether making the headlines or not, there are many dedicated groups and individuals pushing on with their fundraising and relief efforts for those affected by the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami.

I mentioned before I’ll keep readers updated throughout the upcoming weeks and months, on some of these projects.

Today I spoke to one long-time Tokyo resident who’s come up with a small, but unique and heartfelt way to benefit the cause. Business consultant Bernd Kestler experienced the earthquake firsthand (in an elevator in Yokohama) and was shaken up, but never once thought of leaving the city, or country. In fact he told me that he feels the entire 13 years he’s lived in Japan has been a ‘blessing.’

So in the days and weeks that followed the disaster, he increasingly thought of the people up in the affected areas, and ‘ways to support those who’d lost everything.’ This is how he came to start Knit for Japan, an initiative to collect and distribute hand-knitted or crocheted items to the victims of the Tohoku earthquake.

‘I thought, giving them a “woolly hug” in the shape of a hat, pair of socks or scarf is a good way to help,’ explained Bernd. ‘It’s a very personal contribution and in this way I believe every stitch can make a difference.’

Knit for Japan is just 2 weeks old, but already Bernd has received ‘a number of mails from people around the world either working on items or who’ve already put them in the mail.’ He expects to receive the first pieces any time.

And why knitting? Bernd is from Germany, where he told me during the '80s there was a knitting boom, ‘with many men picking up wool and needles.’ He himself has been doing it as a passionate hobby since his late-teens, and in Japan has trained at the Nihon Vogue knitting school and teaches knitting at a 'Knit Cafe' in Tokyo.

Knit for Japan


Knit for Japan’s blog is at and the project’s progress can also be followed on Twitter at!/knitforjapan .