March 11, is a significant day in the Diary of Japan.  It is the anniversary of the devastating earthquake and deadly tsunami that hit north-eastern Japan last year.  The day also marks 60 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and New Zealand and founding of the Japanese Society of Canterbury.

I set off to the first Canterbury Japan Day wondering if many would turn up, it being a busy weekend of events including the Ellerslie Flower Show, and a doubtful weather forecast.  The Riccarton Park Function Centre was packed.  Obviously Christchurch people were keen to enjoy a day of Japanese culture, including takumi drums, ikebana, calligraphy, rice cake pounding and abundant food stalls.  I also spotted a display of poignant photographs from the Japan disaster.  One woman surrounded by rubble expressed a wish to once again laugh out loud.  I enjoyed seeing details of colourful Japanese traditional dress including clunky wooden sandals.  Seems disaster in Japan and New Zealand is bringing our countries closer.  I  recall how much I enjoyed Japanese people on our Christchurch Trams.  Some things about the future look very appealing indeed.