Sixteen students from Iitate, a village located approximately 39 kilometres northwest of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, have just arrived in Perth, Western Australia.

Most of these children are used to living away from home, many are still living in temporary accomodation having been forced out of their homes by an evacuation in April 2011. The trip, which hopes to spread cultural understanding to children who may have lost the chance to take part in such events is part of an exchange supported by Mate Rock, an Australian charitable venture based in Hakuba, Japan.

Mate Rock was formed after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 by Australian and long-term Japan resident, Adrian Bell, who had the idea of a rock concert which could raise money for children’s charity projects. The concert was a success and the organisation continues to offer support.

Before the disaster, Iitate, which is on an official list of the most beautiful villages in Japan, was famous for beef. Wagyu beef is the envy of many around the world so it is perhaps fitting that the project’s main support comes from the Meat and Livestock Australia (who have a project named “Together With Japan” and will take the kids to check out the antipodean bovine competition), along with The Australia-Japan Foundation and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Perth.

If you want to follow the kids on their journey, check out their blog here.

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