A Ukrainian folk instrumentalist performs at a charity concert in the city of Fukushima


Kateryna Gudzii plays bandura and sings a song in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture on June 25, 2022. (Mainichi/Daisuke Wada)

FUTABA, Fukushima – A charity concert of bandura, a Ukrainian folk stringed instrument, was held in this northeastern Japanese city on June 25 in support of Ukraine, which has been badly damaged by the ongoing Russian invasion .

Kateryna Gudzii, 36, from Ukraine, performed traditional songs from her native country and sang with a clear voice. Gudzii was forced to leave her hometown after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident and has been playing music in Japan since she was 19.

The event was hosted by Atsuko Yamamoto, 50, a native of the Fukushima Prefectural city of Futaba who currently resides in the Iwaki Prefectural city following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011. The city is still under evacuation orders, except for certain areas, and all residents remain displaced.

Yamamoto works as the manager of Penguin, a restaurant in the city’s industrial trading center, where the evacuation order has been lifted. She met Gudzii in 2014 at a memorial event for victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake held in Yokohama, where the Futaba resident had evacuated at the time. Yamamoto planned the concert “to thank Gudzii for caring about Fukushima”, and the donations collected will be used to support Ukraine.

About 60 townspeople and others joined the event. Tokyo resident Gudzii performed Ukrainian lullabies and other songs. His warm bandura melodies and sweet voice enveloped the room. After the performance, she spoke to the audience about the tragedy of war, saying, “Children, who did nothing wrong, are being killed,” and called for peace.

Maria, Gudzii’s 68-year-old mother, who arrived in Japan in March after being evacuated from Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, also took the stage and said: “It is important to love and be loved in all situations”.

Yamamoto commented, “Even though we come from different countries, our hearts are the same. I hope everyone in the world is working to solve the problem by uniting their hearts.”

(Japanese original by Hideyuki Kakinuma, Iwaki Local Office)

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