Leaving Our Comfort Zone

On the same day Tropical Cyclone Lua hit the north west coast of Western Australia, we held our fundraising event art, music & food for buddhism. It was tropical cyclones like Lua which killed many pearlers who had worked in Broome’s dangerous pearling industry since the late 1800‘s. The fundraising event successfully raised enough funds for Reverend Shigenobu Watanabe from Hongwanji Buddhist Mission of Australia  to conduct kuyo at the Japanese Cemetery in Broome, the final resting place for over 900 Japanese pearlers and their descendants. Kuyo is a ceremonial offering and prayer for the deceased.

Holding a kuyo is only one of the things that the Indigenous-Japanese community in Broome would like. They would also like to see their children carry on the Japanese traditions, handed down by the Japanese pearlers, such as bon odori and bon festivities, which were held during the full moon in August when the pearl luggers came in, bringing the crew back to town. Bon is a custom in Japan to honour the spirits of one’s ancestors with its origins in Buddhism.

Japanese Cemetery, Broome photo by Mayu Kanamori

So often as artists, we visit a community and work as artists in residence. There we do what we do best – create art, show art, then we leave. But I wonder if  making  art is all we can give. Sometimes as visiting artists we learn so much more by giving what the community wants  –  other than just making our own art.

This idea is not only confined to artists, but to all of us who benefit from working in a community other than our own. Journalists who report, academics who research or engineers who build bridges, all contribute to a community with their own expertise, but over a period of time and repeated visits, surely there comes a time when we listen to what else the community wants, then leave our comfort zones to do something other than what we normally do in order  to give back the support they have been giving us.

Organising a fundraising event of this kind was a humbling and learning experience. As we leave our comfort zones we realise our past mistakes, overcome our embarrassment, and resolve to change for the better.

My sincere thanks to everyone who attended the event, those who could not attend but sent in donations, helped out in the organising, and to all artists who generously donated their artworks for auction and performances for the guests:

Hayley Anderson, Satomi Aoki, Hiromi AshlinFred AwAlfonso Calero, Kazuko Chalker, Felicity Clark, Hideo Dekura, Sandy EdwardsKaty FitzgeraldLuke HardyAmanda James, Jumaadi, Miyuki Kishida, Michele Mossop, Yukie Ota / Koto Music Institute of AustraliaVienna ParrenoMoshe RosenveigDeborah Ruiz Wall, Yutaka Sawasaki, Lisa Sharkey, Roslyn Sharp, Mitsuo ShojiPeter Solness, Maree Stenglin, Mary Van Den BerkKay WatanabeTom WilliamsTomoko YamadaYuko Yamamoto / Koto Music Institute of AustraliaSetsuko YanagisawaRen Yano and me (Mayu Kanamori).

Ryoko Freeman and members of Uraasenke Sydney Association for donating their time for the exquisite tea ceremony demonstration, their donation from the tea tasting and for making delicious rice balls.

Japan Club of Sydney for valuable promotion and support.

Sydney Packaging Pty Ltd for perfect plates and napkins.

FDC Fitout for clipboards and donation of wine and leather carrier.

Cassie French from Pop Up-Publicity for her expert publicity.

Katy Fitzgerald from Images of Life Force Auction for expert advice.

Thank you also to Reverend Shigenobu Watanabe himself for taking on this task to give kuyo in Broome and his meaningful talk and soul moving sutra chant.

Finally,  I thank my long time good friend Setsuko Yanagisawa, her partner Ben Crisafulli and the hardworking staff at Yuga Floral Cafe & Gallery for their generosity, hard work, dedication, flair and fun.

We find that when we give, we gain so much more in appreciation of those around us that gave so much.

-Mayu Kanamori



  1. Cauline Masuda

    Dear Mayu & Friends

    Firstly on behalf of the Broome families and friends I want to say a Big Thank You for organising and supporting the Art, Food & Music for Buddhism event.

    As you know there are nearly 1000 (mainly) men, women and children buried in the Broome Japanese Cemetery who contributed to the town’s history and progress. So many of them I did not know or have never met, some of them are people who I grew up with and some are our own family.

    It is amazing that the Japanese began travelling to Australia, and especially to Broome, from the mid-late 1800’s. As you can imagine back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s the journey from Japan to Broome would have taken weeks, if not months, and many of these people most likely died here without ever seeing their families again.

    In the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s most of the Japanese divers and crew came from the Wakayama prefecture. I believe Obon is held on the 15th August in that part of Japan. In those pearling years Obon in Broome was held on the full moon in August after the luggers returned to town on the spring tide, which did not always coincide with the date in Japan.

    When the hard helmet and pearling lugger days came to an end in the 1980’s most of the Japanese divers and crew returned to Japan, some moved to other places in Australia or remained in Broome. Some of these divers who remained in Broome are now deceased, but there are still four divers with their families living here and call Broome their home.

    We are very appreciative that the funds raised will bring Reverend Shigenobu Watanabe to Broome and look forward to holding a Kuyo, not only to pay our respects to the deceased, but also for their families in Japan, and for the remaining divers here.

    It is also very important for us knowing that there are all of you people on the other side of Australia who willingly gave something for this to happen.

    Our Best Wishes to Everyone
    Cauline Masuda

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