The Student News Site of The American School in Japan

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The Student News Site of The American School in Japan

HANABI

The Student News Site of The American School in Japan

HANABI

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Together4Ukraine: A Night of Fashion, Music, and Dialogue

Together4Ukraine%3A+A+Night+of+Fashion%2C+Music%2C+and+Dialogue
Photo by Shuhei Matsutoya
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Silhouettes adorned in navy blue and yellow. Voices forging a post-war future. Ethereal, silky music. Rapt with attention, hundreds of eyes stayed glued to the remarkable display that was the Together4Ukraine event.

Held on September 9, Together4Ukraine transformed the ASIJ theater into a poignant and invigorating atmosphere. The student-led event was coordinated by Head Organizer Yuno Inoue (‘24) and Head of Creative Direction Erika Kasuga (‘24), bringing together musicians from ASIJ, a distinguished panel intimately connected to the war in Ukraine, and fashion designers whose work was showcased in a runway show. 

The event commenced with a guitar performance by Momo Horii (‘23), who performed a medley of original songs and covers on the theme of love and togetherness. “There’s something about music that’s far more universal than one language can be,” she said. 

A panel discussion highlighting individual experiences with the war followed, featuring Norisama Orii from Pathways Japan, Yulia Chopoydalo, who leads Hands on Tokyo’s AYUMO project, which aids Ukrainian evacuees residing in Japan, and Tetiana Horcharenko, the former Director of Sumy College of Economics and Trade in Ukraine. 

Three Ukrainian evacuees, Dariya, Igor, and Maria, who are currently enrolled in the International Christian University (ICU) and received support from Pathways Japan, also spoke as panelists. They did not disclose their last names. 

During the panel discussions, Igor emphasized the significance of every action taken in support of Ukraine, stating, “Every Ukrainian event you take part in, or every action that you do about Ukraine — everything is very important. It means that our culture, that Ukraine, will not die and that Ukraine as a nation will still live in the future.”

Photo by Shuhei Matsutoya

Maria highlighted the importance of cultivating widespread awareness of the war, saying that “recognition is very crucial for us right now; we are happy to be recognized as Ukrainians and as Ukraine, in the international community.” The speakers’ words and shared experiences served as a poignant reminder of the necessity of supporting Ukraine’s resilience and cultural identity during the ongoing war.

Set against the backdrop of Shaun Kono-Peck’s (‘23) original musical score, the event concluded with a fashion show featuring designs by Sid Abelson (‘24), Kihou Matsunami, and Takaaki Nishimura. Models from Spy Fashions, a Ukrainian fashion and design company, showcased the clothing, further demonstrating the ties between Japan and Ukraine that the event promoted.  

While the night appeared to come together seamlessly, the build up to the event was lengthy and full of obstacles. It was over a year earlier, at a meeting held by Hands on Tokyo, that several PTA members, English Circle members, and ASIJ students had been discussing ways to create a better community for Ukrainians in Japan. Yuno initially hoped to get Spy Fashions involved in Fashion Week Tokyo, an event to display designs from numerous brands in Japan. However, with the event date approaching, she realized that this wouldn’t have been practical, and ultimately took a new approach to promote their brand.

After working with Ryosuke Suzuki, the Director of Strategic Partnerships at ASIJ, Yuno’s plan began to flourish. On top of the fashion show, they decided to incorporate a panel discussion as well as live music, enriching the event by adding artistic elements that also recognized the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. 

Although the event carried a weighty tone, a prevailing theme that underlined much of the art and music was the universal concept of love. Shaun Kono-Peck’s (‘23) original setlist that accompanied the fashion runway was carefully curated to showcase the theme of love, encompassing what he describes as “the myriad of feelings that one experiences when falling in love with beauty.” 

Taking inspiration from Bob Dylan for her performance, Momo expressed that opting for a love song felt “far more appropriate” than a piece about war or conflict. “It’s something that we can all relate to: loving someone or someone in your family. It’s that kind of connection that can bring us all together,” she said.

Themes of cultural unity and peace also took center stage. Sid, one of the designers, approached his creations with the intent of embedding design elements that spoke to both Japanese and Ukrainian mores, presenting the two cultures in harmony through his art.

Photo by Shuhei Matsutoya

During the creation of his pieces, Sid discovered the parallels between the two cultures in their inherent appreciation for nature. The Japanese aspects of his designs incorporated Sashiko – a decorative stitching technique traditionally used on blue fabric – and Mino, a woven straw cape used during the feudal era of Japan. These components simultaneously conveyed the symbolism of the Ukrainian flag, with the blue and yellow fabric representing the vast blue sky and extensive wheatfields of Ukraine.

Together, these artistic elements created an ambiance that, far from being melancholic, exuded optimism and shed light on the war through creative mediums. This holds particular significance as the Together4Ukraine event comes at a time when media attention and public support for Ukraine have been dwindling, despite mounting casualties on both sides. A primary objective of the event was to rekindle awareness of the ongoing conflict, and provide support for the broader refugee population in Japan.  

 

“It’s less common to think about the refugees in Japan, as well as the war going on right now, so I really hope that the event was able to remind everyone that there are still many people that we could be helping,” Erika said.

Momo agreed, emphasizing the significance of reinvigorating support. “It felt like we were drifting away from the conversation of Russia’s war in Ukraine, as the emcees even pointed out, and we have the privilege of having time to consume information [about the war],” she said. “Unlike a lot of people in the world, we have time to actually dissect it and think about it and raise awareness.”

Momo added, “This is the first step to so many more steps.”

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About the Contributors
Kiyomi Miura
Kiyomi Miura, Writer
Sena Chang
Sena Chang, Editor
My name is Sena, and I’m a senior at ASIJ. At Hanabi, I enjoy reporting on global issues, artificial intelligence, and student life. As a reader-writer-aholic, I abhor dangling modifiers and adore em dashes. Send any tips or ideas to 24changs@asij.ac.jp.
Shuhei Matsutoya, Photographer

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