August 29 2014

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Japan: An Update From Tokyo


It has of course been an intense few days here in Japan since Friday’s earthquake set off a series of devastating events. After a weekend of feeling helpless, and mental and emotional shock from marathon updates from TV news, Twitter, Facebook, and NikoNikoDouga, today Tokyo residents attempted to get back to the Monday grind. Small but constant aftershocks, limited train schedules, and electricity blackouts constantly remind us of our neighbors at the epicenter. Some boutiques around Harajuku and Omotesando were closed today, as were press offices. Still, it was a beautiful day here, and felt eerily normal for the most part.

Throughout the day there were disaster relief announcements by the fashion and beauty community: Uniqlo and its employees plan on donating 1.4 billion yen (more than $17 million), including a personal donation of 1 billion yen by chairman and CEO Tadashi Yanai, as well as 700 million yen (around $8.6 million) in clothing. Beauty giant Shiseido will donate 100 million yen (around $1.2 million) along with supplies like hand soap and waterless shampoo. Art director Kaie Murakami, who designs Japanese sites for Louis Vuitton and Pucci, quickly pulled together Save Japan, a Web site that categorizes rescue and help call information by prefecture in 11 different languages.

Companies like H&M, which closed ten stores on Saturday (its Ginza flagship is at left), are assessing the situation and do not know what the long-term effect will be. Mie Anton, PR manager of H&M, has been working nonstop since the incident: “This disaster has of course affected all of us in Japan, including H&M. We have opened up four city stores today with limited hours. We have turned off billboard lights, window display lights, and limited store lights for operation.”

Earlier this evening, Japan Fashion Week announced that it will soon update the media on the fate of the fashion week scheduled to take place March 21-25. They have already canceled several events, including the official closing party, “Japan Fashion Festival,” at Le Baron. Marc by Marc Jacobs canceled a tenth anniversary event, and the company plans to make donations to Red Cross Japan. The company’s stores are closing two hours early to conserve energy. “It’s almost as if nothing happened here in Tokyo. One can’t help fretting,” Martin Webb, Marc Jacobs’ head of marketing and communications said, echoing the sentiments of many others. “Will the people of Fukushima get radiation poisoning? Will there be another quake somewhere?”

As some struggle to return to normal, uncertainty about the most appropriate course of action lingers. “There was some Twitter bashing when I uploaded a street snap,” said Daisuke Yokota, editor in chief of the popular street style site

Photo: Junko Kimura / Getty Images



  1. Leedox says:

    I’m so happy that the fashion community is rallying together to help the Japanese people affected by the quake and tsunami. I spent 3 years in Japan and my brother and his family are still there – and safe. I have very fond memories of Japan. Gambatte Japan. xx

  2. Teadye says:

    According to the JFW web site this morning, the JFW in Tokyo and the Tokyo Collection Week have been canceled. The article says that they will try to hold web events instead as they can in an effort to rescue their potential sales. I would think the best thing we can do for them is to “buy Japanese” as much as will be possible.

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