This is a retrospective documentation of our journey from Los Angeles to Sendai and Ishinomaki.  Our goal was to embrace art as a form of expression for healing.  Our aim was to bring about a touch of positivity to a shattered community through creating something collectively.  We hope our actions will lift the spirit of these resilient communities.  The smaller port towns in Northeastern Japan deserve more immediate attention and assistance.  

Art is powerful beyond measure and hopefully this story demonstrates that.  Shortly after this journey, I fell into a deep funk and couldn’t recover for quite some time.  For the first time in my life I doubted myself and my direction as an artist.  I lost my purpose, and for a moment the colors on my canvas lost its colors.  I’m known to be naive and foolish, but I’m self-aware.  Yet this moment of darkness shook me like I never felt.  Nearly 3 years ago, my best friend passed away from cancer.  His unyielding courage gave me hope and his death taught me to cherish life.  He plays a pivotal role in my vision as an artist because we both share the same ideals about giving a hand to the impoverished through Art and Music.  Because of him, I’ve decided to go to Ishinomaki.  Yet after my journey, I sank deeply and I stopped fighting for our vision.  I missed him a great deal and I couldn’t find my way.  

Just when I was about to give up on my brush, the Grace of God gave me another chance.  Life is ironic and bittersweet, yet it remains beautiful and moving to the ones who endure and overcome great adversity.

Because in the end it was seeing this video myself for the first time, a year after our trip to Ishinomaki, that saved my life.  Seeing the children of Ishinomaki again, seeing Tomo again, rediscovering the smiles on their faces…I recovered the light within myself.  A blessing in disguise all along.  Good news is I’m more realistic this time around, and my passion comes back two-fold, maybe three :)  

We all have two lives.  Our second one starts when we realize we only have one.  This time around, I will not allow myself to surrender to the darkness.  I am the light and I will continue to shine.

I will always be grateful for and humbled by my experiences with the people of Ishinomaki.  As I write this the journey comes full circle.  I hope we continue to find clever ways to support the communities that are constantly overlooked.   

Special thanks to alfasmog for their patience, dedication, and support.  Without them this wouldn’t have been possible.  And I would like to send our deepest gratitude to Tomoyuki Sato and the Sato Clan.  Thank you for your kindness, hospitality, and generosity.  Our paths cross ways for reasons that allow us to grow as better people.  And lastly, thank you to the children of Ishinomaki Kodomo Center.  For your smiles and resilience. 

And for showing us the way.

with love,

Joe Wu


Nov 11, 2015