Todos Santos Plaza was lit by candlelight Thursday night as several hundred people gathered to raise money and offer support for residents of Concord's Japanese sister city, Kitakami, which is suffering from the recent earthquakes and tsunami.
Kitakami was spared heavy damage during the 9.0-magnitude quake on March 10 and subsequent tsunamis, but the city is suffering gas and food shortages and other problems.
The event was sponsored by the Concord Ambassadors, the organization that heads up the sister city program. Part of the event was folding and gathering as many oragami cranes as possible.
Japanese cultural custom has it that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish, such as long life or recovery from illness.
“Our wish, of course, this evening is to have the people in Japan to enjoy a complete and healthy recovery and they soon move forward and become prosperous,” said Mary Rea Lehman one of the organizers.
“After tonight’s event, we are going to continue the collection we hope to collect 10,000 cranes," she said. "They will be manifested into a piece of art. " At this point Lehman said the city wasn't certain what that piece of art will be, but that the idea is to have it somewhere where the public can enjoy it.
"Right now we have a empty store front that we will be displaying it in when it’s done," Lehman said.
“But in 2014, when out sister city delegation comes from Kitikami, Japan, that will become the focal point of our celebration here. We then will be able to demonstrate to them just exactly of amount of love and care,” she said.
People began folding small and large cranes before the vigil started and continued long after. Someone even made a crane from a one dollar bill.Donations can be made anytime to the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California – Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund (1840 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94115 via Union Bank), the Japan Society of Northern California, the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco, the Salvation Army, Red Cross or any of the other international organizations mobilizing to assist Japan. The Consulate website also includes the latest developments and contacts for those seeking more information.