Music Hands at the Abassetaka Center

In visiting Rikuzentakata and Ofunato in September this year, my goal was to share Music Hands with some of the communities in Japan that were affected by the 2011 Tohoko earthquake and Tsunami. I wanted to bring the message of compassion and hope of Music Hands to families and seniors that have gone through great difficulties and sadness. In bringing Music Hands I wanted to help families strengthen their family bonds to better cope with their difficulties.

Kata tataki, the original Japanese version of Music Hands, is an old and simple Japanese tradition of shoulder tapping. Music Hands can be used on the neck, shoulder and back and is beneficial for multiple reasons:

-It allows a richer and more rewarding parent/child interaction

-Kids experience the healing power of touch

-Helps children cultivate a sense of compassion

-Promotes parent’s relaxation through relieving tense muscles.

My first stop teaching Music Hands was at the Abassetakata Center where the highlight of the visit was teaching kids how to practice music hands on their grandparents.

Mrs. Fukuda’s two grandchildren practicing “pray the back” with Dr. Kaneko’s instruction.

They thoroughly enjoyed learning music hands to the fun rhythm of the Music Hands song.  It was a magical and lovely opportunity for them to bond with their grandparents and to foster kindness. At the same time, the grandparents enjoyed the experience and appreciated the attention they were receiving.

When kids practice Music Hands, they become aware of the value of their actions and healing abilities and it gives them a sense of accomplishment. Music Hands can also deepen the bonds between children and parents while bringing some stress relief to parents.

These kids also loved monkey business. I believe this type of play activity was particularly important because it reminded kids of laughter and play, something that may be harder to come by after a tragedy. Everyone needs laughter, especially in tough times.

Ms. Sugano, the chief coordinator for the Abasse center stated, “Thank you very much for organizing this event and providing Music Hands and Monkey Business in our community center! I understood how Music Hands helps grandmas and grandpas feel happy and healthy. One of the Grandmas, Mrs. Fukuda, and her grandchild, Shouta, stayed from the beginning to the very end and had a lot of fun. I was very impressed when they really loved to continue tapping on their grandma’s shoulder and back. Also I witnessed one audience member who felt so good that she was able to easily raise their arms as Dr. Kaneko finished the Music Hands on her shoulder. I appreciated that everyone was having a good time and felt at home here at the Abassetakata community program.”

Shouta and his little brother definitely deserved the chocolate bar award after they treated their grandmother to Music Hands!
Mrs. Fukado’s grandson, Shouta, practicing “drum the neck”.



Ofunato and Music Hands with Seniors at the Community Center

Ofunato is a beautiful beach and fisherman’s town. After riding very small local trains running through the lovely trees and the mountains I discovered a fairyland.   The view towards the ocean is gorgeous. It reminds me of someplace in Big Sur. It was unbelievable that this gulf was one of the biggest hit areas when the tsunami attacked 6 years ago.   It is totally peaceful now but we should not forget to pray for the victims and the remaining families. There will always be sunny days after the storm. People I met in the town are very positive and sharing hope for tomorrow.

It seemed that my messages for a good life, full of joy and laughter as we age, were well received at the community center. An added benefit, shoulder tapping recipients were able to raise their arms with more ease. Everyone had a good time!




 New Friends & Survivors of the 2011 Tsunami

At the Abassetakata Center:


Dr. Kaneko with Takako Niinuma (L) and Mutsuko Hirayama (R)
With Eri Suzuki (L) and Takako Niinuma (R).

At the Ofunato Community Center


Video clip from the Abassetakata and Ofunato Community Center


My special thanks to Eri Suzuki of Tohkai Shimpo, Takako Niinuma of Dreamnet Ofunato, NPO, Mutsuko Hirayama, Masao Kanazawa of the community volunteer group and Ms. Sugano and Mr. Takagi of the Abassetakata Center in Rikuzentakata.
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