Postcards From Japan: A Message From Tohoku Artists

Postcards From Japan: A Message From Tohoku Artists is a touring exhibition of A5 works by 22 artists from North East Japan. I was able to see this exhibition at the Embassy of Japan in London recently, and the exhibition is now on at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, until 22nd April. I wasn’t allowed to take photos at the Embassy, but fortunately my friend Dominic was. You can check out his excellent photos here. All the images below are courtesy of Kate Thomson, one of the Postcards from Japan curators.

The exhibition, Postcards From Japan – A Message From Tohoku Artists, at the Ikon Gallery marks the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit north east Japan on 11th March 2011. In the aftermath of the disaster, electronic means of communication largely failed, making the use of landlines, mobile phones and the Internet extremely difficult. The post office, however, was quickly up and running and in many cases the first opportunity to report news of survival to loved ones was by postcard.

Yoshitomo Saito lost his studio and all his video equipment, but his family survived. His Building up Hope (below) shows the artist with his child, illustrating the desire for recovery in time for the next generation.

Building Up Hope, 2011, 35mm film mount, inkjet print on paper © Yoshitomo Saito

Megumi Honda’s Tenshin 2011 (below) is made of shells collected from the shore in her hometown of Higashi-Matsushima after the disaster.  Her six-year-old nephew just escaped the tsunami, but saw many of his friends and neighbours drown.

Tenshin 2011, 2011, Shells collected from hometown, Higashi-Matsushima, & paper © Megumi Honda

The exhibition is curated by Kate Thomson and Hironori Katagiri, who were working in Tohoku when the earthquake struck. Together the pair have voluntarily organised international exhibitions and projects to support recovery in Tohoku, encouraging local artists and their communities, and developing international cultural links.

For more information visit

Associated Events at the Ikon Gallery

One Year On
Artist workshop with Elizabeth Rowe
Sunday 11 March 2012, 1–4pm

To mark the first anniversary of the Japanese tsunami, artist Elizabeth Rowe leads an afternoon of collage activity, giving visitors a chance to make their own creative response to this poignant date. Suitable for all ages. No need to book, just drop in. FREE, but donations for the Japanese Red Cross will be collected.

The exhibition, Postcards From Japan: A Message From Tohoku Artists is supported by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and The Great Britain Sasakwa Foundation.

6 thoughts on “Postcards From Japan: A Message From Tohoku Artists

  1. Hi Haikugirl, this is a very touching subject and exhibition, which I would like to read more about. I don’t know if it’s just my computer, but the link to the postcard project you have in your post doesn’t take me anywhere. Do you have any other links I could follow up?


  2. Hi again Haikugirl, I followed your link and bought a catalogue of the exhibition, so I will be able to look at the postcards in their original intended format (and also give a very little bit to their fundraising drive). After extreme floods where I live 12 months ago, I now realise how very long it can take to get back on your feet and the colossal disaster that happened to Japan will, I imagine, be a long time in the mending.


    • I’m sure the Postcards From Japan team will really appreciate your purchase – thank you! Yes, it will be a long time before Japan can say it has “recovered”, but with the right support they will get there. I wish there was more I could do from England, but all I can do for now is help to raise awareness.


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