Give money to charity and you can touch a cow. This was the message outside Matsumoto station this afternoon where a group of campaigners from Milk Japan handed out milk, collected donations for the relief effort and encouraged givers to touch their cow.
Seeing a cow alive is rare in Japan, they spend most of their lives in barns. I was so excited I reached for my camera. Then, I remembered I grew up in Devon, the dairy capital of England, where cow photography is the second sign of madness, just below marrying a heifer, so I put my camera away and focused on keeping calm.
The mysteriously named Milk Japan organisation are part of a nationwide movement linking products to the earthquake recovery. Some campaigns are more bizarre than others.
The other day in Ginmaku, a burlesque bar in Asakusa, I had a fruity pineapple beer for 750 yen, 50 yen from the sale going to to charity; before that in a tachinomi (standing bar) in NishiOgikubo I had 50 yen`radiation-fighting` mozuku seaweed soup, all of the money from the sale went to the recovery.
At first, drinking pineapple beer to help refugees in the north may seem daft, but so does photographing a cow, and plenty of Japanese do that.