Cocoro Charity visits Rikuzentakata in September 2011

Cocoro (the Japanese word for mind) is a Japanese charity set up by Takiko Ando to offer mental health care and support to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan (March 2011) by providing 15 minute aromatherapy and massage treatments.

Takiko Ando, first visited the disaster area in May 2011. She returned to Iwate in September 2011 and concentrated her efforts in Rikuzentakata, the city that was hardest hit by the tsunami. More than 40 % of people were still suffering a great deal of sleep disturbance and trauma. Most people were living in temporary homes but these were often miles from the community where they used to live. Many people had moved away to find work or live with family.

Again, the response the the massage was extremely positive. There was a queue waiting on each day. People reported being able to sleep better and to feel more positive and hopeful following an aromatherapy massage. To continue the benefits of the massage, Cocoro began a newsletter service focusing on “home care” and “anti-stress activities”.

Massage for Children

On this visit, Takiko decided to include the children as they had been so interested in massage previously.  She worked with the local social worker, Keiko Sugawara, to introduce a new activity which is a picture-card show for children. The aim is not to “learn” aromatherapy but to encourage them to recognise power of smell. It is a simple game that the children really enjoyed.  By showing pictures, they started to understand how animals and insects find the flowers and plants they need through their aroma.

There was also a game to find out “what is this smell?” A few drops of grapefruit oil were put on a tissue and the children were invited to guess the smell. They were very excited and called out Orange, Lemon or Grapefruit with lots of smiles. Lastly, Takiko and Keiko demonstrated some hand massage without oils and they practised on each other.”Feesl great!” “That tickles!” “Makes me sleepy!” came the responses. They said that being touched by their friends made them feel good. They asked Cocoro to come back again soon!





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