Spring is here

The first cherry blossoms on the top of Mt. Shiroyama

I’ve been accumulating lots of links, so I need to get this posted. I think this will be my last disaster-centric posts because there are lots of other, more informed people writing about the changing conditions.


Little things bring lots of joy, a bird overhead- nesting twigs clasped in its beak, cherry blossoms starting to bloom, yellow-capped preschoolers on an outing. I’ve gone out with friends a couple times and people are slipping back into “normal” life. The tone is still muted- with constant news coverage of the aftermath of the disaster and the nuclear power plant crisis- most people are guarded and worried. Down here in the south- we have none of the anxiety-producing aftershocks nor blackouts-the only direct effects are the unavailability of emergency supplies like flashlights and cookstoves, and a limit on the amount of bottled water that one can buy. Gas prices are going up and the yen is starting to lose value.

The annual Spring Festival of our city was canceled- there is a sense that this is not a time to celebrate. However, families and groups of friends will still gather for hanami-picnics under the cherry trees (usually lots of alcohol and singing involved).  The difference being public vs private.

Evening Sky in Ryougoji

It’s expected that we will have rationed electricity this summer- perhaps rolling blackouts, so we’re trying to anticipate what we need to get in order to make that easier.  We don’t have air conditioning, but I can’t imagine the hot, humid days without an electric fan. Our biggest concern is the fan on the composting toilet- the odor will be awful. I know it’s trivial compared to the situation of the people of Tohoku, but summer is going to be tough for everyone. I can’t imagine living in Tokyo in the summer without electricity for even short periods of time.

I am feeling a lot of anxiety about Fukushima. It is bad and there is no end in sight. The news is grim and it must be very frightening for families anywhere near there. There is nothing we can do, and I’m fairly certain that we don’t face any danger- but there are thousands of families that are in danger and they can’t do anything either. I just hope that the crisis gets under control soon. I don’t feel one ounce of optimism and will be actively involved in the anti-nuclear movement that is starting to arise again.

Sea Level signs were posted all over town last summer. This one between our house and the river says it's 9 meters above sea level. Another one at the end of the street says it's 4 meters. I look at these differently since the tsunami.

Things are remarkably the same as always here. Jiro is working hard doing forest work and also he’s also trying to keep up with his artwork. He just finished a couple pieces for a group exhibition here. It’s been exactly one year since I quit my city teaching job and I think I have finally adjusted to an eternal summer vacation.

Ba-chan is not doing so well. Occasionally there will be a day when I think she’s all better, but it never lasts more than a day. We try to make her life comfortable, but dementia is cruel. I think it’s hardest now because she has an awareness that she is not thinking or behaving normally. It’s tough for us, but I know it’s tougher for her.

I took out the kayak last week. It’s going to be a fun spring and summer. I also bought my ticket to go to the States for a month (end of July-end of August) so I’m feeling pretty set. Now I just need a decent armchair.

Links Previous post has lots more links

Earthquake and Tsunami Alerts

Japan Meteorological Agency

US Geological Survey

Great Tohoku Earthquake Info

Disaster Japan Comprehensive Resource List

New York Times Interactive Map

Great Tohoku Earthquake Updated Announcements Blog: Gakuranman

Japan Pictoureal Photojournalist Blog

US Relief Efforts

I am constantly thanked for the efforts and support from the US and other countries. I was really surprised to see the extent that the US is involved now.

US Forces Relief Work Incredible! This is for March 20th. Look for updates

More US Efforts in Japan

Personal Messages and Appeals:

Watanabe Ken’s Kizuna311 Project (Kizuna means “bonds” 311 is the date of the earthquake)

Global Voices Online Bloggers from all over the world on the Japan earthquake

Ways to Help and Contribute

Of course, Red Cross, Mercy Corps, Doctors without Borders are all involved but here are some other ways to contribute. Previous post

Quake Relief the Soundtrack

Peace Winds America Japan Relief

Japan Volunteer English resource site for people wanting to help

Project Hitori Jyanai Send a photo with a personal message to the survivors

Nuclear Crisis

Propublica Report on Japan’s Nuclear Disaster

Unsafe at Any Exposure Dr. Ira Hefland, board member of the Physicians for Social Responsibility

Not Chernobyl from The Diplomat

What to Expect Next

Politics, Radiation to Decide Fate of Land Near Japan’s Fukushima Reactor

After the Earthquake: A long, hot summer Spike Japan

Welcoming a New World First-person account

4 thoughts on “Spring is here

  1. kimmiekim28 April 1, 2011 / 12:09 am

    Thanks for the thoughtful post (and for linking to mine)…much appreciated. Wishing you all the best!

  2. dad April 3, 2011 / 2:51 am

    Thanks for the news; you’re right, America cares.

  3. Diane April 5, 2011 / 5:53 am

    Kate and Jiro, it’s Diane Gonzales from olden days (smile). So glad I’ve found you and that you’re all right! I replied a few minutes ago in the wrong place of your blog (I think), so I’m writing again to make sure. Would love to catch up with you when the time is right…let me know how and when. Take good care now.

  4. katezawa July 10, 2011 / 11:06 am

    Diane, sent a couple emails, but didn’t hear back. Did you get them? Would love to get in touch.

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