The bond that connects us
Kizuna is a Japanese word meaning 'bonds'. This could mean physical bonds - the connection of two objects, for example - though in daily usage it often refers to something far more special: the bond that connects us.
These bonds do not necessarily have to be between old friends, or even acquaintances. You could be complete strangers - all that is required for kizuna is a feeling of mutual support. Many times throughout Japanese history, it has been demonstrated how far Japanese people are willing to go to be respectful, dutiful and kind to one another. One notable example was in 2011, during the Fukushima disaster, when kizuna was voted as the word of the year?
Friendship in the face of adversity
In March 2011, Japan was devastated by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, a huge tsunami and a nuclear reactor meltdown - all at once. Fukushima and much of the Tohoku region were left in ruins. However, the power of human connection helped communities begin the recovery process. In the aftermath, people from all walks of life contributed in any way they could in order to rebuild.
In a speech titled ?Kizuna, The Bonds of Friendship' in April 2011, then-prime minister Naoto Kan thanked the world for their support in Japan's recovery. He stated, "it has been a period during which Japan has once again realized, and once again given thanks, that we stand together with the world." He also spoke of Japan's gratitude at receiving "thousands of origami paper cranes intently folded by children in distant nations wishing for the reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas."
Almost a decade on, much of Tohoku has recovered, though it remains an ongoing process. Hardly any tourists visit the region (only around 2%), which sadly means that it continues to struggle economically. If you're thinking of visiting Japan and you'd like to experience kizuna for yourself, it's worth considering spending a little time around Tohoku. You'll help the local economy to grow once more, and you'll meet some of the warmest, friendliest people in Japan (which is high praise indeed).
In truth, you can experience kizuna anywhere. It's not so much a one-off event as a way of living your life; of listening and understanding, of practising empathy and compassion at every opportunity, and ultimately, of nurturing the bonds we all share.
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Important notice: We are pleased to be able to offer so many amazing experiences in Japan. However, we are sorry that we can only include these as a part of a full Japan holiday package which includes your accommodation and transport alongside the experiences presented in this section of the web site.
Available throughout Japan
Interested in this Experience? It is included in this tour:
Journey through the lush rural landscapes in Tohoku, a land steeped in tradition and mystery, on this classic two-week itinerary.
When the famous Haiku poet Matsuo Basho set off on his pilgrimage to the North he was to discover rural Japan, a land of lush landscapes and rich in legend. As you journey through the pilgrimage towns of Tohoku and on to remote Sado Island you'll experience some of the same Japan as the great poet.