Did you know that the city of Tsuruga, a port city in Japan, has incredible historical ties to the Jews and Israel? In the 1940s, Jewish refugees made their way to Tsuruga, a place that welcomed them with open arms. Before that, Polish orphans were taken in during the hard times of the 1920s and cared for by the people of Tsuruga. If you didn’t know this, you’re not the only one. In fact, many natives of Tsuruga are unaware of their impressive history, and the significance that their own city has on the lives of many communities and cultures around the globe. For this reason, we are putting together a festival that will celebrate our “Port of Humanity” and engage people with the various cultures the city has historically helped.
Present Day Tsuruga Port
We want the people of Tsuruga to be proud of their history and to be aware of the impact they’ve had on the Jewish community. They should recognize the historical event of “Visas of Life” led by Chiune Sugihara, which saved thousands of Jewish people’s lives. The Tsuruga International Culture Festival will bring people together to learn, explore and share in the memories of this incredible history. Festival attendees will experience the cultures and countries we have impacted including Israel, Poland, Lithuania, and the Netherlands! Through programs, films, food, and performances, attendees will learn and celebrate these cultures.
There will be plenty of distinct examples to represent the four countries, including Israel. There will be a Food Market, cultural exchange workshops,musical performances, lectures, and more. For example, we have developed an education program about the brave diplomats such as Jan Zwartendhijk, who was deeply related to the “Visas of Life” initiative.
We have also invited the children of Sugihara survivors to the festival as special guests. One of these descendants is Damon Krukowski. He is a professional musician living in the US and his father was a Jewish refugee saved by the ‘’Visas of Life’’ of Chiune Sugihara during the wartime.
Who We Are
We are the Executive Committee of Tsuruga International Culture Festival. We are supported and represented by an incorporated non-profit organization THAP. THAP stands for Tsuruga Heartful Amenity Port＆People. We are working to make the port town of Tsuruga a pleasant city and create heart to heart interactions between people.
The chairperson of THAP is Yutaro Ikeda, and he is also the chairperson of the committee. Yutaro was born in Toyama prefecture of Japan, moved to Tsuruga as a child. Attracted to the people and its generous character of Tsuruga, decided to settle down in this land for the rest of his life. He has supported many activities to revitalize the city of Tsuruga. His goal is to make Tsuruga a cheerful and livable city by putting his effort into the project of Tsuruga International Culture Festival. He hopes to make Tsuruga Japan’s leading international city that attracts both Japanese people and people from overseas in the future.
Why Support Us?
In order to keep the memories of this history alive, we need to educate and inspire the next generations. This festival will help preserve the memories of the ties that bind Japan to Israel and thus continue to forge stronger relationships between the two countries today. As the world becomes a more divided place, we must find any excuse to bond with one another.
Through this festival, the visitors will learn and experience Israeli and Jewish culture as well as the cultures of Poland, Lithuania and the Netherlands in one fell swoop. This is a very rare and precious opportunity for the people of Japan. It is a one of a kind festival which can be held only in Tsuruga.
The families of the ‘’Sugihara survivors’’ will be grateful to you for supporting this project. You will be celebrating the memories of Sugihara’s heroic and courageous actions. The survivors are Sugihara’s legacy and the recognition of Tsuruga’s actions won’t be forgotten.
Pictured above: Jewish people waiting for landing (The Asahi Shimbun dated June 6,1941)
How You Will Help
Your support helps us to achieve the following goals:
- Provide recognition of the historical event of “Visas of Life” which saved thousands of Jewish people’s lives in the 1940s.
- Preserve a part of Jewish history and educate the world about it.
- Remember our history and pass these stories down to the next generations.
- Create opportunities to remind not only Tsuruga’s citizens but all people of the humane interactions in Tsuruga’s history.
- Create a more tolerant and more unified people by engaging in this cultural exchange event.
- Encourage continued friendly relations with people in Israel and other parts of the world.
- Cover the cost of the festival’s travel expenses, accommodation fees, performance fees, PR and Marketing efforts, production displays, operation fees, and more.
In the News
Chiune Sugihara, Japan Diplomat Who Saved 6,000 Jews During Holocaust, Remembered – featured in the HuffPost
Picture above owned by Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Looking for the ‘Angel of Curaçao’: The Unknown Hero of Jewish Refugees – (Jan Zwartendhijk） featured in the Japan Forward
Damon & Naomi – (Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang) featured in the Japan Times
Tsuruga: Port of Humanity – featured in Japan’s government website