The five members of Arashi, as MCs for the White Team, present this project to support Tohoku (the area of Japan which was devastated by earthquakes, tsunami, and radiation on March 11). The song "Furusato" (meaning 'hometown') was born as part of a special project at last year's Kouhaku. In 2011, this song will represent the feelings towards our hometowns, feelings which have now grown much stronger in many people's hearts. A second verse has been specially written into the song by Kundo Koyama, who also penned the original lyrics. This "Furusato" is also the theme song for the 62nd NHK Kouhaku Utagassen.
A certain piano, ruined by the tsunami, was once part of a junior high school gymnasium in Fukushima Prefecture and had been used for many years. On the day of the disaster, that particular junior high school was undergoing their graduation ceremony. Despite being mud-ridden in tsunami caused by the major earthquake, this piano was taken to a local piano company who carefully repaired it free of charge to the point where it was once again able to produce sound. This year, we will borrow this special piano and bring it to the stage to be played by Arashi's Sho Sakurai. Riding the melody of this piano, which is a symbol of recovery, our viewers, our Kouhaku artists, and of course the members of Arashi will come together in a touching chorus rendition of "Furusato". This will be a special segment which communicates the never-ending brightness of our hometowns, and our strong belief in tomorrow.
"A piano that took half a year to be playable again. Even now it carries many scars. However, it rings out with clear tones. I hope to perform "Furusato" with the thoughts and feelings of the tuner Mr. Endo and the children of Fukushima." - Sho Sakurai
Source: 62nd Kouhaku Utagassen (December 28, 2011)
Picture Source: dreamlights @ tumblr
Translation: squallina @ livejournal
Sho's been promising us for ages he'd show us his grand return to piano playing. What a way to fulfil that promise!
Edit: Fixed Sho's message to reflect the changes made to the Kouhaku site.