Katsushika Hokusai's (1760-1849) famous print, “The Great Wave of Kanagawa.” The people of Japan have faced countless earthquakes and tsunamis during their history. In Shintoism, nature is recognized as infinitely more powerful than humankind—as in the wave—and that humankind is in nature with the permission of the gods but with no particular concern from the gods.
WorthPoint Worthologist David Pike—who specializes in Japanese and Asian antique and collectible items, including porcelain—lives in Nara Prefecture, Japan. While he and his family were unaffected physically by the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami, he is planning to do his part in helping the country rebuild by doing what he knows; he’s going to form, fire and donate porcelain tiles to be used for reconstruction.
He intends to make and deliver 500 tiles first and will make more if others donate funds to pay for materials.
“My idea is to provide a more personal way to give,” David said. “Other donation mechanisms are available, but this is one where there will be a physical remainder along with a cash gift.”
David, who has lived in Japan since 1994, says he is planning on creating 500 porcelain tiles first—to be fired in his two wood-fired kilns. “It would be nice to do many more, but I have to see how the first batch turns out and what kind of volume is needed. I have until the end of this month to prepare for the firing. Going into my studio is a lot easier since I know I’m doing something that feels like it will be of some use to others.”
An unfired tile. Worthologist David Pike plans to make at least 500 tiles to donate to a rebuilding effort.
The tiles measure, undried, 15 centimeters by 5 cm by 12 millimeters thick.
Nara Prefecture is landlocked with the nearest Eastern coastline more than an hour away. It was never in any danger from the tsunami. David says that while he doesn’t think even a book fell off a shelf in Nara during the earthquake, the local population is feeling the effects of the earthquake and tsunami.
“The mood of everyone I have talked to is one of shock, of sadness, and there is a feeling of disbelief at the failure of planning at the nuclear plants. In this area, called Kansai, there had been some calls for conservation of electricity, but it was pointed out that there is a difference in the electrical cycles between the eastern and western parts of the country. So even if this area wanted to send power to the east, it isn’t possible,” David says.
While he formulated his idea to create and donate porcelain tiles fairly quickly after the disaster, he hasn’t identified a specific area to make his donation. Anyone interested in making a donation to David’s project, you can e-mail him at email@example.com. Additionally, several shops on arts web site Etsy.com, including David’s, will be donating a portion of sales to earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.
“I have tremendous respect for the Japanese people on the whole. They are hard working, honest, resilient,” David says. “These are a people who are tough and will rebuild. There have been no scenes of looting or other civil unrest. Hats off to them.”
You can follow David’s progress on his web site.
David Pike is a Worthologist who specializes in items from Japan, including porcelain.
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