Second Anniversary of Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Photo Exhibition Features Chicago’s Ties to Recovery Efforts

Categories: Press Release

Kizuna 2: The Bonds of Emotion presented in Loop this March


The March 11, 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku, Japan, and the subsequent tsunami after its impact, have left what will be a lasting and powerful legacy in the history and culture of Japan, and our world in total. Its devastation has been supplanted only by the perseverance and resilience of the Japanese people.


The Osaka Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, along with the Japan American Society of Chicago and the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, is proud to present Kizuna 2: The Bonds of Emotion, the second phase of a multidimensional photography exhibit of the March 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. The first phase was successfully presented in various parts of Chicago last year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois are serving as Honorary Co-Chairs of the exhibition.

The exhibition will be showcased from March 11–15, 2013, at the State of Illinois James R. Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph Street) and from March 18–30, 2013 at the Block 37 Gallery (108 N. State Street). The exhibition is free and open to the public.

The public is also invited to attend an opening ceremony for the exhibition at the James R. Thompson Center on Monday, March 11 from 12 noon–1 p.m.

The exhibition will also be presented at the Richard J. Daley Center during the Chicago Sister Cities International Festival from August 5–9, 2013, and during the year at other venues, to be announced.

In addition, an economic seminar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (230 S. LaSalle Street) takes place on March 13, 2013 at 6 p.m. to discuss the economic impact of the disaster and the challenges and opportunities during the most recent recovery efforts in Japan. To attend, please RSVP at



The main focus of Kizuna 2: The Bonds of Emotion is “Chicago Connections,” highlighting Chicagoans’ life-changing experiences with the earthquake and tsunami. Members of the Chicago Photography Collective have participated by taking photographs of those in Chicago that have been impacted by the disaster. Japanese-American Chicagoan Akihiko Tohei was teaching high school English in Fukushima city, 32 miles from the nuclear plant disaster site, when the earthquake hit. While he worked to get his students to safety, his mother waited in Chicago for news on her son. Kevin Mclinden, a former Marine Captain from Chicago who was part of Operation Tomodachi (Operation Friend), was sent to be part of the recovery efforts, an experience he will never forget. Their stories, plus those of other Chicagoans with connections to the affected region, will be told through photography.

The exhibition has two other elements. The second section is “Voice from Japan,” displaying photographs from people on the ground in Japan who have been chronicling the event and recovery since it happened in 2011. The last is centered on the subject of “Where are We Now?” with photographs from the photo archive of The Nikkei, the leading Japanese business newspaper, that look at the current state of the earthquake and tsunami zones.

To further connect Chicagoans to the earthquake and tsunami, the exhibition will present “The Red String Project,” based on the Japanese legend of the Red String of Fate. In this legend, the red string is symbolic of the concept of infinite, binding connectivity.  Representing the vast number of lives lost in the disaster, over 20,000 red strings will be placed on display in a clear vase. Passers-by are encouraged to take a red string and tie it to their clothing or a belonging, creating a connection of remembrance with one soul to another—binding Chicago and Japan, bringing recovery to life.

Kizuna 2: The Bonds of Emotion has been curated by Jamason Chen and is generously supported by Anonymous; Asian Improv aRts Midwest – Tsukasa Taiko; Barnes & Thornburg LLP; Calumet Photographic; Chicago Kalbi; Chicago Loop Alliance; Chicago Photography Collective; City of Chicago Mayor’s Office; City of Osaka; Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Grant Thornton LLP; Hana to Yoko Florist; Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago; JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) Chicago; Lakeview Art Supply; Loyola University Chicago School of Communication; Matsutani America Inc.; Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd.; Mayumi Lake; Mizuho Corporate Bank, LTD.; M Square, Inc.; Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal U.S.A., Inc.; OMRON; and State of Illinois Governor’s Office.

Made possible in part by the generous cooperation of Nikkei Inc. Dedicated to The Nikkei’s collection “Memory: Things We Should Never Forget.”

For more information on this exhibition, visit, follow us on Twitter (@ChiSisterCities) or “Like” us on Facebook,


2011 Tōhoku, Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

The 9.03 magnitude earthquake occurred on March 11, 2011, 43 miles east of the Oshika Peninsula of the Tōhoku region of Japan in the Pacific Ocean. It is the most powerful known earthquake ever to have hit Japan and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake’s sheer power moved Honshu (the main island of Japan) eight feet east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between four and ten inches.

The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 133 feet and travelled up to six miles inland. It caused a loss of life of over 20,000; destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of buildings; and caused major nuclear accidents, among many other damaging and lasting effects. Two years later, the recovery is still far from over.


Red String of Fate

The red string of fate is an East Asian belief used in Japanese legend. According to this myth, the gods tie a red cord around the little finger of those that are to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a specific way. The two people are then forever connected by the invisible red string, regardless of time, place or circumstances. This magical string may stretch or tangle, but never break.


The Japan America Society of Chicago

The Japan America Society of Chicago is a nonprofit association made up of individuals and corporations interested in U.S.-Japan business, cultural, political and social relations.  Founded in 1930 to foster mutual goodwill and friendship between the people of Japan and the U.S. The Society sponsors over 50 public affairs and cultural programs annually, including business luncheons, evening lectures, cultural event and social networking opportunities.


Chicago Sister Cities International

Chicago Sister Cities International provides leadership to develop, manage and coordinate comprehensive programs and projects with Chicago’s sister cities. It aims to increase international trade, promote economic development and support exchanges in the fields of arts and culture, education, health, social services, environment and technology with its sister cities for the benefit of the City of Chicago, its residents and businesses.

Chicago’s 28 sister cities include: Accra, Ghana (1989); Amman, Jordan (2004); Athens, Greece (1997); Belgrade, Serbia (2005); Birmingham, England (1993); Bogota, Colombia (2009); Busan, Republic of Korea (2007); Casablanca, Morocco (1982); Delhi, India (2001); Durban, South Africa (1997); Galway, Ireland (1997); Gothenburg, Sweden (1987); Hamburg, Germany (1994); Kyiv, Ukraine (1991); Lahore, Pakistan (2007); Lucerne, Switzerland (1998); Mexico City, Mexico (1991); Milan, Italy (1973); Moscow, Russia (1997); Osaka, Japan (1973); Paris, France (1996); Petach Tikva, Israel (1994); Prague, Czech Republic (1990); Shanghai, China (1985); Shenyang, China (1985); Toronto, Canada (1991); Vilnius, Lithuania (1993); and Warsaw, Poland (1960).

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