Monday, December 15, 2014

3. Welfare Festival in Japan

Masturi is a Japanese festival. It's a religious event to pray or appreciate the good harvest or health.

Now this festival often includes a large event to provide entertainment and promote unity among the local community.

 Performance by Instructor / Takumi Suzuki (Guitarist) 

The annual "Yugyouji Welfare Masturi" in Fujisawa, Japan has become an event of mental health awareness.

Mochi-tsuki (pounding steamed rice into mochi)

This event provides an opportunity for patients struggling with mental illness and other community members to interact while enjoying local entertainment.

Saru-mawashi (a monkey show)

For this day, patients who suffer from mental illness practice for this event under challenging circumstances from time to time, over several months.

Akiko, an instructor, goes up on stage with the nervous members, and they are able to finish performing. These patients succeed each time their illness or disability does not discourage them from reaching a chosen goal.

Finished singing on stage safely, two performers are extremely relieved. The moment Akiko pointed a camera at them, they say,...

"Quit! It's not good"...but when encouraged, they both raise their faces, completely serious.

After deciding to cooperate, these two became more relaxed. Akiko then suggested they make "fool-faces."

Akiko believes mental illness and tension are synonymous, "because there is not even an occasional loosening in his facial expressions, even when out of treatment."


       " Thank you very much."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

2. Akiko

Akiko is a professional musician, and a volunteer who supports mentally ill patients in Japan.

 It also happens that she is one of the patients.


She conducts music class once a month for 90 minutes. Each class is divided into three sections:

  1. Picked one song up, and lecture about lyricist, composer and contents of the lyrics.
  2. Request. Sing together their favorite songs. (include Kayokyoku and J-pop)
  3. Practice the songs that are chosen to sing up on the stage during the "Welfare Festival" held in the fall each year.

The age range of most of the patients is between 20 - 50. Every patient with a mental disorder has a unique personalty and feelings. Akiko works to support the band and participants as much as possible in spite of her busy schedule.

Workshops such as painting, Japanese calligraphy, music, computer, sports, hiking, karaoke, flower arrangement are offered in this program to enable patients to re-enter society. These workshops are organized on a daily bases, so patients won't become further withdrawn.

Akiko plans to rehearse once a week for the upcoming Welfare Festival in Fujisawa, Japan.

Let's give her cheer! Great progress Akiko!

1. Takeo the drumer

Takeo was once an active talented drummer in Japan. However, his passion for music and hard life caused mental illness.


One day, a music therapist Rie and her assistant Akiko visited Takeo.

Japanese cuisine
Takeo's family owns a famous catering shop in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Every time Rie and Akiko visit, his mother welcomes them with homemade seasonal cuisine on a full table.

Mother recalls her son's life of illness under medical treatment and how hard it was day after day. She continues to appeal to Rie and Akiko. She wants her son to play the drums with full energy again. It's like a prayer. So, she invites them home to make introductions. Enthusiastic and hopeful, she prayed for a positive outcome.

Before he couldn't play like this.
After an exquisite lunch, Takeo's therapy began in his studio. His studio is a soundproofed room where he can play drums all through the night, even in this densely populated residential area.

He first stretches to loosen his whole body. Most mentally ill patients have poor blood flow and a stiff body. Loosening the body is essential to recovery.

Then vocal exercises commence. Usually Takeo doesn't speak loud enough. So Rie was surprised by his loud singing voice because of his solid physique .

Takeo's goal is to sing while playing the drums. After a little break, Takeo plays his drums, joined by Rie playing piano and Akiko singing. He is now rehearsing for the December 9th live performance.

After the first session was finished. Rie's suggestion for next time; For Takeo to accompany them for some walking outside to improve blood circulation. Then after the walk, do the vocal exercises and play the drums. Takeo and his mother both like this idea and respond with jubilant faces.


Akiko is a professional musician, a flute player and a singer. Also she is a founder of Sankichi Band. This band is comprised of any patients and any supporters who want to enjoy music together.

Some patients are very talented but they couldn't achieve their own coarse, because of their illness. Akiko plans in enjoying music with each and every one of them, their families, friends, therapist, and any others who have an understanding of their situation.

Well then. Everybody. Let's play in Japan, at Sankichi Band.