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You would think such a day would tremble to begin: Remembering 3/11 from Britain [Essay]

1 Oct

Of course I was not there as such, I was probably asleep when it occurred, physically speaking. Since I live in Britain and it struck at 2:46pm. However, I remember quite clearly a Facebook link or Twitter feed, informing me that a 9.0M earthquake had hit Japan, soon after people were calling it the ‘Great East Japan Earthquake’. Everyone was googling ‘Tohoku’. I remember staring at my computer as it if it were the Oracle at Delphi, I knew my loved ones were ok, they lived in a completely different part of Japan, yet I needed that confirmation.

I was staring at my Blackberry, waiting for the Gods of Wifi to assure me that all was well, and finally a chime and click later the Oracle answered my prayers, I knew all was well.

Days later, as with that other September 11th, the news died down in the UK, which is why I started this blog. But this is my abiding memory.

Michael Gillan Peckitt

Riuzenitsuka [essay]

15 Sep

18 months ago, my wife and I visited japan for the 4th time in 10 years. We’ve travelled over 3 of the major island and only have the lower land of Kyushu to see before we can spread ourselves out to the smaller islands of Sodo and so on… But on an oppressively hot summer’s day on Honshu, we took the 3 hour Shinkansen ride from Shinjuku, north to Sendai. It’s a pleasant trip that, once your done with seemingly endless suburbs emerges to occasionally touch the coast. However most of the time the train pelts you thorough flat rice paddies that lie in orderly fashion from the mountains and ridges on the left to the sea on your right.

At Sendai we changed to a local train that rattled us to fishing docks, where we boarded an old grey ferry to wander around Matsushima Bay for a few hours. This is a large shallow bay studded with small, rocky islands, each covered with twisted pine trees that had been tortured by salt laden winds. It was like touring a huge aquatic bonsai garden. Each little island appeared sculptured by an unseen hand into perfect displays. Between them, regular lines of bamboo poles gave the impression the bay was one giant flooded market garden. And in a way it was as these poles marked the rows and racks of oyster farms.

The ship seemed to cut a path that lead you to believe someone was following us and we were trying to lose them. But after an hour and a half of playing hide and seek with ourselves amongst the outcrops we arrived at the tiny holiday resort town of Riuzenitsuka. The summer crowds had gone but you could see from the number of signs promising Lotto ice cream and Asahi beer, this little village existed for the pleasure of those wanting to escape the terrors of the crowded Tokyo for a while. Beyond the low sea wall rows of souvenir shops stood quietly facing the sea. My wife added to her small collection of Kikimmi dolls in one before an old lady lured us into her cafe for a lunch of baked fresh fish, miso, rice and Asahi. She would not let us past.

Riuzenitsuka was the ideal spot to relax. But as with all of Japan, fear lies just under the surface. These islands are constantly trying to shake, blow or wash everyone off. And if that’s not enough there’s the odd volcanic eruption. A sign on the foreshore made it pain that a tsunami was expected. There was no time or date, just a very plain warning that as with death and taxes, a big wave was coming. ‘Run’ it said in words and graphics. Run for your life. Run.

It said ‘not if… but when’.

I suppose that what the old lady did when the deadly wave came. She would have run.

She and her fellow shop owners would have made their way to the sandstone cliffs just two or three streets behind them. Probably carrying nothing of their lives or possessions with them. They would have been able to climb past the meditation hollows the monks from the local temple had carved centuries ago. They would have been able to reach the safety of the wooded sandstone ridge and from there have a panoramic view of the breaking wall of seawater as it crashed over the lawns and playgrounds. They would have seen their shops and cafes resist for a moment and then be reduced to splinters and swept along in this churning, deadly king tide. The old lady would have seen her humble red wooden rice blows mix with the sisters of my wife’s kikimmi doll as the wave enveloped the ‘May peace reign on earth’ post at the foot of the cliff.

They would have seen their livelihoods being swept away in a tide of mud and debris and the bodies of those less quick… as though their whole existence had been put through a paper shredder and reduced to confetti… but they would have been safe.

I can imagine their expressionless faces whispering ‘Bansai’ into the snowy wind – ‘May you live a thousand years.’

Should their wish be granted I expect they may never want to see such a terrible sight again.

Submitted by: Andrew Millar

post quake diary [Photos]

26 Jun

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Submitted by: Björn Neumann

Verse for a Lucky Island [Poem]

24 Jun

Open up the ground we walk;
This Earth has sought to make it known
Despite our smarts and all our talk
We fall by tremor, water thrown.

A power smacks of anger, brings
Destruction’s wave to our feet
A hand that comes to take all things
Then leave us little but defeat.

All this, yet somehow discontent
Fate decides to scare us still
For handmade power waters went
To loosen further dangers’ yield.

So much of that we knew became
Laid to waste by earth and sea
Yet through the loss the heart remains
Willing return of life, of peace.

Whilst one could sooner close his eyes
Lay down with strain these days have brought
Touched by tears that one has cried
Others band, take up the cause.

For now fate holds us in her wake
Since shaking us from what we’ve known
But from our heart she will not take
Away our Lucky Island,

Submitted by: Nicholas Bartlett

Where and When [Video]

30 May

Where and When (For Japan) from Robert Dean Glencröss on Vimeo.

Whenever you feel lost
Whenever you feel tossed around
Whenever you feel thrown
Whenever you feel blown away

Whenever you are down
Whenever you renounce your ways
Whenever you look back
Whenever you feel black and blue

I will come to you
With my heart on my sleeves
And down on my knees
I’ll embrace what you need

Whenever you stand up
Whenever you need a parade
Whenever you want songs
Whenever you just want to sing

Wherever you call home
Wherever on this globe you stay
Wherever you are safe
Wherever you are brave today

I will come to you
I will always believe
In you and your dreams
When you say you’re in need

I will come to you
With my heart on my sleeves
And down on my knees
I’ll embrace what you need

Submitted by: Robert Dean Glencröss

3/11 [Essay]

30 May


The next day:

So what happened was I was on my way to work, just finishing up getting ready, when I felt a small earthquake.  It seemed to go on for longer than usual while getting stronger at the same time.  I’m very sensitive to earthquakes, and I’m the first to take cover (much to the amusement of my coworkers).  I ran to the entryway in our home, opened the door and knelt down. When I realized I wasn’t the only one doing this, I began to panic.  I ran down to the first floor of our building as the earthquake intensified.  I was also in the Loma Prieta earthquake of ’89,  which had more of a jarring feel, but this earthquake was like being stuck on a suspension bridge.  I could see outside that the power lines were swaying and everything seemed to blur.  The earthquake did not want to let up, and the aftershocks seemed to be an extension of it.  We still had power, including the Internet, but phone lines were down.  I couldn’t contact my fiance for a while, which was frightening.  My neighbors all banded together and found that we were in the safest place possible.  Thank goodness for things like Twitter, Facebook, and email.  I was able to keep in contact and informed of the situation.  I was able to not only speak to my family, but I also got to see them on Skype.  It was very reassuring! Still, my mind is a mess. I can’t think straight. To keep my mind off the aftershocks, I started pooling our emergency kits and supplies. I honestly didn’t expect to use them, but it was busy work and needed to be done.

As for my fiancee, he was at work at the time.  The aftershocks became too much and they evacuated his building to a local park in Shibuya.  He saw glass that had fallen off of buildings onto the sidewalk, and there were huge crowds of people that were stuck.  The trains had stopped, the station even closed and weren’t letting people stay there.  He went to a local electronics store where there were loads of people crowded around the TVs to get their news and charge their phones.  Some were simply out shopping as usual.  The izakaya (bars) were still open, as well as many restaurants.  Later in the evening, it was revealed that the JR Lines would not resume that day.  He decided to walk home.  Under normal circumstances, this would have taken an hour and a half or maybe two hours.  But it took him about three and a half hours to get home as the sidewalks were packed with people. What a relief it was when he walked through that door and said, “ただいま!” (“I’m home!”)

The aftershocks continue.  Of course, they’re much lighter and more infrequent compared to yesterday.  Even as I’m writing this, we just had an aftershock that was enough to spook me into hiding!

Now things are much calmer.  Yesterday was very scary and stressful.  But everyone remained calm.  Even on the news, I didn’t see anyone who was hysterical.  My neighbors and I all stuck together.  It was my first time meeting some of them; they’re lovely.  We shared advice and information, it was very reassuring.  One thing I’m very impressed with is the part social media has played.  There was such a strong community with support, encouragement and the very latest information.  It was also a quick and easy way to account for many people at once.  Google even set up a system for checking in.  Thank goodness we had Internet!

We are very lucky.  Everyone is concerned about the people who were very seriously affected up north.

And Then:

It’s been about two days since the quake, and we are working on getting back to our daily routines the best we can.  But what’s happened in the north is very shocking and our thoughts are with them.  We are keeping an eye on the nuclear reactor situations, but it does not appear that we are in any danger here in Tokyo at this time.

Going shopping at the grocery store today, we stocked up on necessities and extra food.  The stores were busier than normal, but not completely packed, and the shelves were fairly well stocked.  There wasn’t much besides bread that they were sold out of.  Bottled water was still available. We went in the afternoon and again in the evening.  I would venture to say that it felt like business as usual.

We’re trying to conserve energy, but we do have power, gas, and water.  We were informed that they will “ration” power-outages in three-hour sessions.  However, because we live in the busy downtown area, we’re not going to be in the scheduled groups. Still, we may have power-outages anyway.  We were also told that once the power goes, we may be without water during that time as well.  We’ve filled our bathtubs with water just in case.  We’ve stocked up on food and essentials.  We are prepared to evacuate, although we do not expect to.  It’s just a precaution.  In Ikebukuro, Tokyo today, the scene was such that one wouldn’t know if it were taking place today or last week.  Most of the stores and train lines are open again, but many businesses remain closed or closed early. Even the jumbotrons in Shibuya and Shinjuku have been turned off to save energy.

We had tentative plans to go to Sendai over Golden Week. Perhaps there will be something we can do to help with relief efforts. Miyagi is supposed to house one of the top three greatest landscapes in Japan.


The situation in Tokyo today the scheduled power-outages began, but most of them weren’t applicable to most of the downtown districts in Tokyo.  We are all conserving power.  Convenience stores, shops, and supermarkets are lowering their lights, closing early and doing everything possible to conserve electricity.  In fact, we did such a good job of it that some of the rationed power-outages were canceled.  However, this caused a lot of confusion.  It was comfortable temperature today, so it was easy to go without heat.

The trains today were busier than I have ever seen them.  Most of the lines have delays and have suspended operations between certain stations.  This morning, two trains came that I couldn’t fit on.  Usually, by that time, the trains are clear enough to have some elbow room.  I waited for the third train and got on, but by then I was a half hour late.  The government had actually encouraged people to stay home today, work shorter hours, come in later, or telecommute.  My fiancee and I were able to end our workdays early.

Electronics stores today quickly sold out of battery-powered cellphone chargers.

But the general vibe remains calm and cooperative.  There is no panic over the situation with the nuclear reactors.  Although we are inconvenienced, we’re doing well.

Our hearts are heavy; they’re with the families of the dead and missing. I remember visiting Fukushima a couple years ago. I remember thinking how cold it was, but everyone in the shops and restaurants were so warm and inviting. I enjoyed the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever had while I was up there. I read that the people of that town have all evacuated. I don’t know if the tsunami damaged the town. I’m afraid for those nice people.

Submitted by: Jenny Silver

11.03.2011 Pray for Japan [Art]

29 May

People are not Numbers #prayforjapan #iphoneography

Submitted by: Daniele Martire
Originally posted here.

Scorie [Art]

29 May

Scoria n.5 #prayforjapan #iphoneography #nuclear

Scoria n.6 #prayforjapan #iphoneography

Submitted by: Daniele Martire
Originally posted by here

Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami [Photos]

28 May

Submitted by: Damon Coulter, Photojournalist

Clown in Tohoku [Video]

27 May

Submitted by: Douglas Wakimoto