54 year old dentist Akihisa Yumi passed away on Thursday, only one day after donating the “Pray for Japan” teacup, which was kissed by the famous U.S. pop star Lady Gaga, to the local government of disaster-stuck Miyagi Prefecture. The teacup was used by Lady Gaga during a press conference in Japan in 2011, shortly after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami disasters, with the words “Pray for Japan” written in Japanese on the side, and subsequently auctioned for charity in May 2012.
Yumi, who is from Miyagi’s city of Osaki, was the winning bidder, paying 6 million yen (then worth approx. $75,000) for the teacup, which also features her signature and lipstick imprint. He donated the memorabilia to the Miyagi prefectural government on Wednesday, in hopes that it would encourage people to visit Japan’s recovering region, and not to forget the disasters that took place almost two years ago. Sadly, Yumi passed away on Thursday at a local hospital due to his struggle with an intractable lung disease. He had been incapacitated and unable to speak, but sister Koto Cho, 52, says that Yumi, who regularly volunteered after the disaster, even helping to identify some of the near 20,000 victims through their dental records, was smiling as he died. She said that her brother was probably relieved that the teacup had been safely delivered.
At the time of its auction, the teacup still hadn’t even been washed from when Lady Gaga sipped Diet Coke from it in Tokyo only ten weeks after the 2011 natural disasters. As Yumi’s sister presented the teacup and saucer to Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai, she said, “I hope people will be touched by Lady Gaga’s and my brother’s love for the disaster-stricken areas.” Murai promised the gift would be used as “effectively” as possible in order to encourage people. Idea’s on what to do with teacup are still being discussed, but one proposal sees it being put on display at a memorial park.[via Jiji Press]