Members of the Japanese environmental group NGO Earth Infinity on Sunday dressed up as characters from the Japanese Masked Riders TV drama as they helped pick up trash along Old Street in Hsinchu County’s Neiwan Township (內灣) to thank Taiwanese for funds donated after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
The group from Nagoya was set up six years ago and its volunteers — all aged between 20 and 30 years old — meet every month to clean the streets of garbage and trash.
Knowing that even this activity would fail to generate interest over time, the founder of the group proposed that the volunteers dress up as characters from Masked Riders while picking up trash.
Lin Yi-wei (林亦維), a student at China University of Science and Technology in Hsinchu, who invited the group, said NGO Earth Infinity had previously used their own funds to come to Taiwan to express their thanks for the help Taiwanese offered in at the aftermath of the disaster in 2011.
The magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people, mainly in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in northeastern Japan.
In the wake of the disaster, Taiwan donated about ￥20 billion (US$196 million) in aid, more than any other country.
Aside from dressing up as characters from the Japanese TV show, the volunteers on Sunday also wore banner that read: “Team Kizuna.”
The word kizuna means the connection between people.
Meanwhile, in related news, a group of Japanese students in Taiwan is to commemorate the third anniversary of the 2011 disaster.
The event, which will take place in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水), is to express Japan’s gratitude to Taiwan for its post-disaster assistance and highlight the reconstruction that has been going on in the affected areas, organizers said.
Participants will also have the opportunity to fold paper cranes as a symbol of a blessing to the Japanese victims, the organizers said, adding that the paper cranes will be sent to residents in the affected areas.
This will be the third year that Japanese students in Taiwan have organized a memorial event to commemorate quake victims, they said.