Tara Dances in Tohoku, Japan 2013

The 8 Priestesses

Felicity is a Level 4 Mentor in Tara Dhatu, from Sydney, Australia. She has been teaching in Japan for many years and speaks Japanese fluently. She writes…

When the earthquake, tsunami and triple nuclear meltdown happened Tohoku (northern Japan) in 2011, my heart was shaken to the core. I will never forget a phone call from Yasuko, our Tara Dhatu Facilitator in Tokyo, a few days after the quake. She said, “We’re locked in the house, there is no food in the shops or petrol to be had, the radiation is very high and we are just waiting. I know that we could die and I’m perfectly fine with that. I am prepared to die. We are just waiting.’”

Since that time my deep wish was to go to the area and do a Tara Dance Offering there. Japan has gone through a tremendous upheaval over the last few years and the situation is still uncertain for the 160,000 or so nuclear refugees, displaced and grieving from the effects of the tsunami.

Facing the mountain, offering our prayers

With some help from a friend in Kyoto, the sale of the Japanese Sari’s and lot’s of organization, my wish came true.  I traveled with a group of dancers to the base of Mt Iwate, in Tohoku. This mountain is sacred to the Japanese, a goddess, like the Mt. Fuji of the north. It is also a hot spring heaven.

When planning this event, we looked at public holidays and decided on July as 15th the day of the offering. This date is celebrated in the area as the Day of the Sea. What great opportunity for healing and stabilizing my beloved Japan.

All sorts of circumstances led to us being eight dancers with two friends accompanying the party. Eight became a theme upon which everyone had reflection. Everything we needed right down to a drum and a gold screen were there for us. We were told how Iwate meant ‘I wait’. Interesting I thought, like Yasuko had said. We are all just waiting in a way.  We shared stories of how we were brought from near and far to this place and time.

Kumiko at the the shrine

The day of the offering arrived, cloud and sun, while our eight dancers waited in the small patch of pine trees surrounded by the deep, warm, green of summer lushness. I felt like we were ancient princesses standing in a circle on the top of the world.

We were unusually on time, aware that many were thinking of us in Japan and around the world. As we stood prepared to walk into our space, huge claps of thunder roared from the clouded depths of the volcano Iwate. We all knew straight away, the mountain had been waiting for us! As we danced, the clouds revealed the beautiful summit of Iwate san, sunshine beamed down upon us and thunder clapped our efforts. We finished right on time, more thunder as the mountain clouded over and the midday noon bells echoed across the area. The thunder, a small earthquake, and rain in the evening signaled to us the success of the offering. We were all so happy. I don’t think I have ever felt my heart overflowing, completely full and bursting open like it did at that time.

The next day we drove two hours through the most beautiful forest, rivers and mountains to one of the tsunami affected areas. It was a glorious summer day but within 10 kilometers of the coast, the temperature dropped around seven degrees and the sky closed in. The atmosphere was palatable.

We went to Miyako, site of the scene shown again and again on TV of the long tsunami wall, the black wave, consuming all in it’s path. On the ruined foundations of houses strewn with weeds, one brand new house stood defiantly. Houses were still clinging to the steep hills leading to the sea but grief and sadness filled the air. We all went silent for such a long time.


We went to another village, Taro cho, similiarly flat, construction workers still shoveling now smaller mountains of wreckage. Temporary houses stood in hot parking lots. Stories of the lucky ones saved and the loss of the many flowed from our friend’s lips. She said in the month following the disaster, the sky was black for a whole month, it was freezing and didn’t stop snowing.

A friend who defied odds to get to the coast ten days after the disaster found a village that was still without aid or food. People had salt from the tsunami in their hair and were down to handfuls of food.  Such suffering!

Our last stop, was the beautiful beach of the Pure Land (Jodo ga hama).

Jodo ga hama - Beach of the Pure Land

The fallout of the 2011 disaster continues to unfold in various ways. The Government is now promoting food grown in Fukushima, absurdly trying to save the farmers’ industry but consequently further poisoning the populace. The supermarkets are full of Fukushima cucumbers but no one buys them.   Food now is labeled eg, meaning it is grown in Shiga, Kyoto, Fukushima or Hyogo. So it is impossible to know where the food is actually coming from. The government is saying it is all safe but they have conveniently raised the safety standards. Recently Tokyo recorded radiation levels as high as evacuation levels in Chernobyl.

An election is being held today (Juy 22) but many people feel there is no-one to vote for so don’t bother. Radiation / nuclear power is still a huge issue and to the shame of many people I’ve talked to, the Prime Minister Abe is now going around the world trying to sell it’s nuclear technology and hardware, saying it is safe and that they will accept the waste!!!

Factions in the government are trying to change the Constitution to legitimize the army. Anti government / anti nuclear sentiments are being suppressed.

People, especially the youth, feel there is no future for them. Wedged between America and China, America is now putting huge pressures on Japan to open up it’s markets,  and China is pushing it’s military might around Japan’s islands. What fate this land has!

Beautiful mountains and rivers of Tohoku

We dedicate our dance and our prayers to liberate and heal the suffering, to balance and heal the land. We pray that Japan may lead the world in developing cheap, clean, safe energy.

SVAHA, So be it! So may it be!

Felicity Oswell  22.7.13

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