Mary Atkinson, UK representative of Cocoro Charity. | Mary Atkinson

Cocoro Charity

Welcome to the UK page of Cocoro charity, updated by Mary Atkinson, Cocoro UK representative.

Japanese speakers can also find regular updates and photographs on the Japanese Cocoro blog.



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The aim of Cocoro (the Japanese word for mind) is to offer on-going mental health care and support to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan by providing aromatherapy and massage treatments. The founder is Takiko Ando, a Japanese citizen and qualified aromatherapist. Five years after the disaster, the charity is still providing comfort and relaxation for the local people, especially the elderly people who feel lonely and isolated.

Just to remind you of the tragedy. At 14.46pm on March 11th 2011, a devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the north east coast of Japan. The tsunami swept inland as far as six miles in some places. 14,728 people were killed with 10,808 people missing. (For more information and photographs please click here)

The psychological impact of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 will continue for many years.   Conditioned by their culture not to burden others with their suffering, children and adults experience recurring nightmares, depression and high anxiety levels. (For more information please click here). Four years after the disaster, the local people are still trying to come to terms with their loss.

The Cocoro team have found that the therapeutic power of aromatherapy and the comfort of touch can bring positive healing to the victims of the tsunami. (For more information on benefits please click here)

Cocoro Activities from May 2011 to present (Work is still on-going)

  • Cocoro Charity first visited the disaster area in May 2011.
  • The Cocoro team returned in September 2011.
  • Cocoro returned to Rikuzentakata in April 2012 with a team including Richard and Mary Atkinson from the UK.  A new initiative for Cocoro is a ‘Positive Touch for Children’ project led by Takiko Ando, Mary Atkinson and Keiko Sugawara.
  • The Cocoro team visited again in October 2012.
  • The Cocoro team when back again in June 2013.  They are now one of the few charities that continues to provide aromatherapy and relaxation for the victims.
  • The Cocoro team are teaching local people new skills in basic aromatherapy and massage so they can share these with friends, family and neighbours. Aroma Care Worker Project. 
  • Newly trained Aroma Care Workers joined the Cocoro team when they visited the area again in November 2013. 
  • The new Cocoro Ria Local Team start work in December 2013.
  • The charity visited the area in May 2014.
  • Cocoro visited again in July 2014.
  • Story Massage DVD produced by Cocoro UK to raise funds ands awareness. August 2014
  • Cocoro therapists visit area in November 2014.
  • Celebration of first year anniversary of Cocoro Ria. December 2014
  • The work of Cocoro Ria continues to offer comfort and hope.
  • The Cocoro team visit again in November 2015.
  • The Cocoro team organise workshops to teach new skills to ACWs.
  • Cocoro Ria workers are welcomed by elderly people who want the charity to continue its valuable work.




July 2016 – Letter from a member of Cocoro Ria about her Work in the Area.

November 2o15 – Update on the Current Situation and Cocoro’s Work

September 2015 – Mary Atkinson, Cocoro UK Representative wins Excellence Award

April 2015 – Latest Update on Cocoro’s Work in the tsunami area.

Cocoro provides Party at Closure of Temporary Home

Update on work of Cocoro Ria

Cocoro Visits Rikuzentakata to support Aroma Care Workers

Story Massage DVD in English and Japanese 


Cocoro’s Tenth Visit to the Area

Takiko Ando Visits UK to Thank Cocoro Supporters

Cocoro Ria Local Team Begin Work in the Temporary Homes on a Weekly Basis

Aroma Care Workers join Cocoro team in November 2013

Asahi Breweries Support Cocoro 

Training Local People in Basic Aromatherapy Skills

Heart-Felt Fundraising Idea for Cocoro Charity

Mindfulness Workshop with ‘Heart-Felt’ support from the UK

Cocoro’s latest visit to the area – June 2013

Video Interview on Cocoro’s work with Mary Atkinson, UK Representative

The Smiling Flowers Story Massage

Cocoro’s Visit to the Tsunami Area – October 2012 (report written by Takiko Ando)


Haruka’s Sunflower Blooms in Chichester

Talk at Japan Society Southern Counties

Seminars and Talks in Japan and UK Raise Awareness of Cocoro’s Work

Meet the Cocoro Charity Team

Creative Use of Story Massage for Tsunami Children

Coroco’s  Visit to the Disaster Area in April 2012 

Coroco’s Visit to the Disaster Area in September 2011

Cocoro’s Visit to the Disaster Area in May 2011

The Pyschological Impact of the Disaster

Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage for Victims of the Tsunami

The Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, March 2011

Founder of Cocoro – Takiko Ando

The founder of Cocoro Charity is Takiko Ando, a Japanese citizen and qualified aromatherapist, who was herself a victim of the Hanshin earthquake in Kobe on 17th January 1995. The Hanshin earthquake measured 7.2 on the Richter Scale. 6,434 people were killed in this disaster. Many people suffered mental health care problems in the aftermath of the disaster as there was so little recognition of the importance of the need to heal emotional wounds. Takiko was saddened by the way that dozens of victims died alone in temporary accommodation especially elderly victims who became estranged from their families due to bereavement and distance from each other.

As soon as Takiko heard the news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami on the north east coast of Japan, she was determined to do something to help. Through her experience as a therapist both in U.K and Japan, she realised that aromatherapy could act as a calming influence. She decided to embark on a new project offering 15 minute massages to individuals affected by the tragedy.

With the help and support from other therapists, Takiko was able to sort out paperwork, including the necessary documentation such as consultation forms, and set up Cocoro (the Japanese word for mind. The local social welfare council in the disaster area recognised the importance of Cocoro and accepted Takiko’s help. In May 2011, Takiko first traveled to the prefecture of Iwate, the hardest hit disaster area, to offer 15 minute massages to the victims. She offered a choice of massage – either hands, feet or neck and shoulders.

Takiko Ando, Professional Aromatherapist, MIFPA, founder of Cocoro

Takiko is Member of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapist. She is a graduate of the Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy  and has gained a U.K. Diploma in Clinical Aromatherapy and Holistic Massage. She is a qualified instructor on the Massage in Schools Programme. She can be contacted directly on:

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