With the death toll in Japan now at 7,500 people and expected to climb, members of Portland's Japanese community and other supporters gathered Friday evening at a vigil and memorial service for victims of last week's earthquake and tsunami.
Mayor Sam Adams and Takamichi Okabe, Consul General of Japan in Portland, were among the people strolling through the Japanese Garden's East Pavilion and the surrounding grounds as Mitsuki Dazai strummed a traditional Japanese koto and Buddhist reverends from three of Portland's largest temples chanted sutras of peace, healing and mourning.
Lines of visitors made offerings of incense, an ancient cleansing ritual, according to Rev. Shunko Komeiji of the Daihonzan Henjyoji Buddhist Temple. And they offered their prayers and sentiments to victims through a special "wish arbor" and condolence books provided by the Consulate-General of Japan.
Adams told the gathering that Oregon and Japan share a "special relationship" in collaboration, business and education.
"Japan knows Oregon well," added Stephen Bloom, CEO of the Portland Japanese Garden. "Oregon is famous in Japan for a tv show called From Oregon, With Love. This is the theme for tonight."
The Japanese Garden has partnered with Mercy Corps, the Japanese-America Society of Oregon and other organizations to form the Oregon Japan Relief Fund. Bloom said that fund has already raised more than $100,000 for earthquake/tsunami relief efforts.The memorial and wish arbor will be open and free for the public through March 29 during regular Garden hours.