TOKYO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A Japanese Ikebana artist and a traveling chef are bringing the power of flowers and tasty food from Japan to a reopening ceremony on 1 September at the Petit Ecole primary school in Hostomel, near Kyiv, Ukraine, which has been closed for over a year. This project, called “The Flower and Spoon Project,” is an initiative to build bridges between the minds of citizens across borders in the hope of peace.

Currently, primary schools around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv are unable to open and hold classes because the safety of the children cannot be guaranteed without shelters. Concerned about the serious impact from this situation on the children, GURTUM, a non-profit organization formed and led by Oleksandr Kahal, the director and founder and by local designers and parents, was set up in September 2022 to raise funds to design and build shelters with a playful design that children can enter without hesitation. Multiple shelters are currently in development, so they will be ready by the school reopening on 1 September 2023.

Two artists who both had separately developed projects for the Ukraine are now teamed up with GURTUM and celebrate the reopening of schools, by producing the best tea party ever to the schools with completed shelters, as it is customary for primary schools to gather for tea parties after the opening ceremony in Ukraine. Documentary filmmaker Toru Kubota will also accompany them to film and document the event throughout the journey.

Ryota Hagiwara, who has traveled and studied in many countries around the world to display powerful Ikebana arrangements throughout Japan, and, Rua Soda, who as a traveling chef has brought local nature and ecosystems to the table in various regions of Japan, are joining team to celebrate the reunion of friends, teachers, and community members, and the strong sense of ‘normal life’ coming back to them.

Rua Soda, who lived through the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake in 1995, decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign in 2022, hoping to deliver not just food but “tasty food” to those who were displaced by the invasion in Ukraine. To raise funds, he created a food performance and video piece called “Pray for Ukraine” which features the title track of the film, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,”(1983) with blessings from the artist Ryuichi Sakamoto himself. The video was seen and well received by many people in Japan and Ukraine.

We hope that you will be able to follow our activities to build a bridge between people in Ukraine and Japanese artists through the distribution and posting of Instagram and video. If you wish to donate for the activity of GURTUM, please contact us directly.

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