I have bought supplies from John Neal for over 20 years so can vouch for his honesty; there are a lot of scams out there but this is not one of them.
From John Neal: The massive earthquake and tsunami which hit North East Japan on March 11th of this year devastated many coastal fishing towns. Ogatsu was one of them. Famous for its 600 year old history of handcrafted inkstones, the town was directly hit by the tsunami and suffered extensive damage. In addition to their homes, the craftspeople lost their livelihoods as their workshops, tools and equipment were also swept away. Two craftsmen of a total of 20 lost their lives; one was a master craftsman. There are 20 additional skilled artisans connected to the industry.
Craftsmen, local people and volunteers managed to rescue some of the Ogatsu stone and inkstones which were swept away. The inkstones are being restored and, as they become available, are being sold in one or two galleries in Kyoto and Tokyo. This month, the craftsmen are moving into a temporary communal workshop, but without the infrastructure for their craft, the way forward will not be easy. Before the tsunami Ogatsu produced 90% of Japanese inkstones, which were renowned for their quality and beauty. The industry will not be able to rebuild itself to such a level again without support from the general public, calligraphers and artists. (If you have purchased the Shakyo-Ken Inkstone with its small deep well, you have an Ogatsu inkstone:
At present the craftsmen are living in temporary accommodation. The local government is giving what aid it can to all those who have lost their homes and livelihoods, but resources are stretched thin.
John Neal is helping Christine Flint Sato collect donations. Ms Flint-Sato, who has contributed several articles to Letter Arts Review on Japanese ink sticks and brushes as well as calligraphy in Japan, will forward the donations to the head of the ink stone craftsmen's union. All amounts are welcome.
Please include your email address so the receipt of your donation can be acknowledged and a subsequent report on the effort can be sent. Please note that these donations are not tax deductible.
Those in the USA, Canada, and the UK should send checks in their own currency to John Neal, 1833 Spring Garden Street, First Floor, Greensboro, NC 27403. Make checks payable to JOHN NEAL and write "Inkstone Relief" elsewhere on the check. The "payable to" must have only JOHN NEAL.
Those in Japan please contact Christine Flint Sato on firstname.lastname@example.org , and she will send you bank details for transferring money directly in Yen.
Volunteer work in Ogatsu: http://peaceboat.jp/relief/reports/ogatsu-stone/
Crafting Inkstone: http://youtube.com/watch?v=6pGdhQSPoYg