Hello blog. It’s been a while.
I had just come back from the bank. I was way too organized this Friday. Something unusual, for sure. I was planning to send money home on Monday. We had so much work coming up and thought we really don’t need much cash on hand over the weekend. So with some time up my sleeve I ran up to the bank, got a few odd jobs done, bought groceries, then wandered home, an early spring afternoon, still with a slightly cool chill in the sunshine.
I came in the door about 2:40pm and Trace mentioned that I was faster than she expected. I mumbled something then unpacked the food. She was beginning to suffer from seasonal hay fever, it was a casual Friday in the office. I went to the toilet. And that’s when life changed. Bathrooms and restrooms are strong rooms, traditionally good door frames, a place other than under tables to take shelter when the earth shakes. As such I didn’t even feel the start. I heard Trace shout earthquake before I felt it.
We’re not unaccustomed to the world shaking. In fact just 2 days previously while on a job in Ginza we had an earthquake, which produced a few hard hats in the office. For the most part though it’s not unusual to sit through them, nonchalant, non-reactionary because they usually, generally stop. This one didn’t. It got stronger and more violent, books and crockery falling as the seconds passed in slow motion. Response time was hopeless on our part. I knew one thing for sure that I didn’t want to be inside our 30-year-old ferro-concrete non-seismic building during the big one. I know it’s wrong, but that’s the choice I made. And I’m owning it. If it’s anything this week has taught me, it’s that there’s no judgment. I still struggle with this daily. But sho-ga-nai, I’m human. We felt safer outside, enough wide space around to catch the accordion like images I had in my mind if our building ever were to collapse.
I don’t know how we got out of the door. We made it down the 2 flights of stairs as the whole world waved. The road was like a rhythmic gymnasts ribbon. The electricity lines cracking and slapping together overhead. We huddled in a far corner. This went on for well over a minute, maybe longer. I have no idea. I looked at Trace, she looked at me. We clung on. The building was still standing, but seemed to sway endlessly. I looked at her again and wondered what on earth she was holding. “What’s that?” I asked. She replied, “I grabbed my handbag and got my id just like we practiced”. I said “Look again”. She did. She’d grabbed her black make-up bag instead. With just enough lippy and blush to get through this and service Miyamae-ku. We were prepared.
The world was suddenly dizzy. Car alarms and community sirens now replacing our regularly scheduled program. House alarms blasted for the longest time, their inhabitants gone for the day. And so we waited a little while until we felt safe to go indoors. I mean, really…how we would know it was safe? It’s the little things we tell ourselves I guess that make us move forward. We must have still been shell-shocked, because there wasn’t a lot to say, only that this was indeed the biggest quake we’d experienced in our 14 years here. We went straight in to check the TV, something we always do. We no longer have cable, as we’ve been too busy to up grade our 50-year-old hot pink analogue TV to digital and ITSCOM are still incredulous. So we had no western media to rely on yet… something that indeed would become more than a blessing in the days following. The Japanese news was rabbiting on with big numbers. We knew it was big but somehow you try to get back to normal asap. We had stuff everywhere, but nothing much broken. Just books, photos and frames fallen, papers on the ground, drawers spilling open. We cleaned up. Despite this we thought it perhaps necessary that we quickly pack a Go Bag that consisted of a little more than Mac and Shiseido. And so I got to work throwing a few things together. Then I got distracted and started folding washing when a second very large aftershock got us outside again. Our hearts beating faster than ever. We were truly scared.
This time we met our sweet neighbor from downstairs. It’s a peculiar relationship we have. We know she is illegally feeding every single homeless cat in the greater Tokyo, Kanagawa area and bringing them indoors. So we limit ourselves to a quick nod and neighborly recognition. Knowing all the time that it is a trade off. We could easily dob her into the landlord for this violation, she could do the same to us for all our noise and nonsense…probably. We’re not taking on that, so we just all co-exist happily. But this day we talked. And hugged, and promised we would check in with each other. Then off we went.
While we watched the world sway a second time we would never know til much later that massive walls of water were hurtling their way towards the coast of Japan. What was unfolding was a cataclysmic disaster, on a scale much bigger than we could ever imagine.
It was so strange and I am not sure if anyone else noticed but the sunshine and warmth of earlier in the day was now replaced by a dark ominous grey sky, a weird slash of orange on the horizon and actually a few random raindrops here and there, which just as suddenly stopped. Certainly the world was darker.
We found our way back upstairs, clearing up again. A definite time to get the Go Bags in better shape. And that’s when the news started to come in and the scale official.
At 2:46pm on Friday March 11th The 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami (東北地方太平洋沖地震, Tōhoku Chihō Taiheiyō-oki Jishin) occurred off the coast of Japan. With a magnitude of 9, the earthquake triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves of up to 10 meters (33 ft) that struck Japan minutes after the quake, in some cases traveling up to 10 km (6 mi) inland, at some 800km per hour, apparently.
Just over one week later more than 7000 people are confirmed dead, the number rising as more bodies get washed ashore with the tide, 2600 injured and almost 11,000 still missing. Some 450,000 people are displaced, homeless and in shelters and battling the bitter cold and snow of a remnant winter. It is an unimaginable tragedy, the sheer brute force of nature, coupled now with an unstable nuclear situation.
For the next few days we all watched in horror as the first hand reports started flooding in. It was such a disconnect. We were so lucky. Even on a local level. We were at home. We still had power, water, food. No hot water, but many friends were far more inconvenienced, as everything from Tokyo north shut down. Our 70-year-old Japanese friend was caught on the other side of Tokyo, near Ueno. Trains of course had stopped, no taxi’s, buses. Police were not sure of the timeline or where to go for help. Finally a local Koban suggested she, along with her Historical Club friends, walk to the next station. Here there were a conglomerate of Love Hotels. This was titillating for a generation I am quite sure has never stepped inside one. On the way though, and she stressed this emphatically, they found a nice “regular” type of hotel which was kindly welcoming in those stranded by the quake, giving them refuge from dusk and the unknown journey home. At first they bunkered down in the lobby but were later moved to the warmer ballrooms and party rooms upstairs. Given blankets and green tea. This was the order and incredible kindness displayed. Other friends walked hours to get home. Students stayed the night at schools. Stations turned into shelters while salarymen either slept in their offices or slept in stations or just walked the long trek home. One friend was in a traffic jam for 12 hours a trip that normally takes about 40 minutes. Taxi lines were thousands of people long. But still, it seemed orderly. And kind. Really, we were just so lucky, rattled as we were.The next morning, trains were running sparingly so we were able to spend the weekend with dear friends. But sometimes the uncertainty and raw aftermath was just too much to deal with. Too many words, while the feeling was overwhelmingly hopeless. But there was comfort and warmth and that is always a good thing.
However we have family up north. In Iwate and that was where our thoughts most firmly were. While those around us talked of leaving, with the upmost respect, we understood there was simply no option for us to go. Not with family missing. That terror, the phone calls to DFAT, the embassy, communications still playing havoc even here in Tokyo, the constant images of the North being shown on TV – it was a traumatic few days for sure. Calls to people on Facebook and Twitter about the state of things in Morioka had some news finally filtering in. And we can’t thank the cyber world enough for the social grapevine. Saturday night twitter had reported that there were no casualties in Morioka which put to bed any worst case fears. They were located and finally we were finally able to make contact late Sunday night. They were safe, damage of course done to homes, no power or water and just so cold with no heat. Of course nature would throw some snow in the mix. Three hour line ups for water. But everyone in good spirits, waiting their turn, knowing that they will all get their share. The relief of speaking to them was overpowering even with crackly phone lines and finally, there were some good tears.
We did our best to touch base with family and friends all over the world and for this we will always be grateful to Mark Zuckerberg. Whatever your feelings on social media, we had fast responses to questions, info at hand immediately and it was a lifeline to the world when the power and phone lines were gone. It was also tool of mass hysteria, as anyone in Tokyo on Tuesday knows. You can certainly have too much, way too much of a good thing. But the blame for what occurred in the days following the quake must certainly, almost be fully attributed to some of the most ridiculous, disgusting coverage of all time by the Western media. Resulting in absolutely mass panic, fear mongering, and simply negligent reporting which has far more reaching effects than just leaving for a few days. I mean you would go if you saw this, right?
Ok, maybe not because it is The Sun afterall and Rihanna is already RED HOT…Just saying…
Certainly the nuclear issue was and continues to be serious for those living near the Fukushima plant. We all panic at the word ‘radiation’. But in terms of Tokyo, with just a little simple research and a sift through the deluge of misinformation, it soon became clear that even in the absolute worst case scenario where we are living and working would unequivocally be safe. We now even know the diff between all those Sieverts. And are obviously avoiding bunches of bananas at all costs. Also rethinking immersing ourselves in our beloved onsens which are 400x more radioactive than the air in Tokyo just now. Who knew? Radiation levels in Tokyo have ”risen” but we’re still talking levels that are less than natural radiation from rocks and soil.
When you see images of people in Tokyo wearing face masks it is mostly because of pollen, not radiation. And I must confess for the first time in 14 years I bought a mask, because I think my hay fever glass is finally full. It feels weird. I wore it for 2 minutes, before the spring winds whipped it from my face. We are still bordering on the hesitant when asked if we are worried about the radiation. This Youtube Video designed to educate Japanese kids helped… well, helped Trace. Most friends saying, well if you are still hesitant – the safest thing is to go. If you are unsure, best to be cautious. But it’s more complex than that. How long do we go for? When is it safe to come back? What do we do? I think it was important for us to stick by our community, pitch in here when we could and just monitor everything hour by hour.
And in terms of dependents, well, we are only responsible for ourselves. If we make a bad choice, it’s ours alone to own. I think that it’s important to remember that a lot of the leaving Tokyo was done from love, and not all from fear.
A random meeting with an American neighbor I almost never see, whose father happens to be a nuclear scientist reiterated what we were being told locally. We, of course understand the track record of the Japanese media and government in under reporting and covering-up, and like our Japanese friends we are all naturally skeptical. We’ve lived here that long. We know the only info was coming from the Government and Tepco, we take it warily and there surely is some investigating to be done on that level in the future. Japanese authorities might have been less than forward in trying to reduce the panic and concern with their blanket phrasing. But the international media in general were pathetic in their pathos to do the opposite, woefully underprepared particularly in their cultural approach and understanding of Japan and the treatment
of Japanese people as whole.
Aside from all that in this case you cannot hide the air. Experts all get the same recordings… Please refer here ahd here for a bit of sanity. And we felt a little more at peace, although honestly always second guessing our decisions. Always having the Qantas page bookmarked, just in case.
We realize of course that our experience in Japan is a little different. We firmly have one foot in the Japanese community and the other in the International one. We can make reasoned decisions and act accordingly. We would never put ourselves at risk and always follow the advice of our Embassy but simply put, this country has give us so much, and in our case there was simply no reason we could see to go. And there seemed to be more logical reasons for staying. And maybe now we understand the depth of our feelings here, we couldn’t go in this case. We feel a responsibility to be here and give back to a place that has given us so much. It is so hard to explain and certainly the last week has been such a study in human character, it hurts my head. And everyone is different. I am so tired of having to explain my reasoning. A lot of the blame I give the media for the anguish it has put our families and friends through and continues to… I tried to relate how I felt in a facebook note during the past week. Thank you so much for all the heartfelt comments. I’d like to share it here on the blog:
Hello world. Lovely friends & family… I must apologize for not updating for a while. We are still in Japan, still near Tokyo. I’ve left it up to Trace to remain in contact. Because honestly it’s all been too much to deal with, and she is both very articulate and moving and light when needed. I simply didn’t have the words. I am not sure if I do now, but I’d like to let you know where we are, what we’re thinking and how life changes in a heartbeat, in a wave, in an hour, in a facebook post, in a TV report, in a phone call, in a toilet, in a shoebox, in a simply amazing country.
- I wish there were more I could do for those in need right now – up north. But I will wait, be patient, work on a local level and have them always in my thoughts.
- I wish there were more I could say – a little more eloquently than a wish list.
- I wish I could express my undying gratitude for the incredible neighbor who just rocked up unexpectedly to the door with 2 ROLLS OF TOILET PAPER!!! Have had NONE since Sunday!!! Will post some pics & full report on the 37 Blog soon!
- I wish the ground would stop shaking –as it is right now as I type this.
- I wish I could be sure I have made right decisions.
- I wish I could explain more succinctly that whatever you choose is right for you.
- I wish my maple bikkies were on the bare shelves at Family Mart.
- I wish I could stop looking at first-hand images of the tsunami and the impact of that dreadful black wave. But I can’t.
- We wish we could hug our families and tell them it’s ok, but they understand and have been part of this Japan journey for 14 years. They get it and we simply love you all.
- I wish we could all take more than a moment, more than these words, to thank and keep in our hearts the amazing team working on the nuclear situation in Fukushima – right now.
- I wish information came with a sieve – to sift the science from the hysteria & act accordingly.
- I wish certain entities of the western media didn’t seem to be sickeningly scrounging for an ending more cataclysmic than what has already transpired.
- We wish the 90 year old grandmother of our dear friend who was finally found today in Minamisoma, Fukushima after more than 90 hours will arrive in Tokyo soon on her evac-truck. Imagine – 90 years old and hit with the ultimate triple threat: ongoing earthquakes, tidal waves, radiation threats.
- I wish I could have made much more sense in my interview with 60 Minutes today. And that my words will not be edited or spun in any other direction than to focus on the main story. The real tragedy up north, my love of this country and the freedom to do what is right for you and to share some experiences.
- I wish that my mind hadn’t gone blank when Liz asked me “So what will it take you to leave…?” At the time I really didn’t know. We are taking things minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. The answer of course is if my Embassy tells me to – mostly. We will never put ourselves in risk of serious danger. This is not at all about being brave, trying to prove something; it’s simply my life. Whether it is a combination of “gambare” or “gaman”, of having one foot firmly in our local Japanese community, the other in the ex-pat world – it’s the sum of our experiences here and the sense of responsibility I feel to a place and country that has given me so many opportunities. Wish I could explain more.
- Again I just wish the ground would stop shaking and I wasn’t aware of the “earth crust displacement theory”. Thanks Trace.
- I wish I had a blue jumpsuit like Edano-san and will never pay out on Jack Bauer again.
- I wish the Ignite video had been uploaded at a little less chaotic time, but if you want a good laugh at our expense feel free to check it out and not comment.
- I wish I could be more productive than I have been these last few days and will certainly work on that tomorrow.
- I wish that if we need to enact plans B, C & D that we will find our way south in record time, with gas stations, all kinds of roadside hello squares and no flashing lights and patrol officers to keep us entertained.
- I wish I could stop eating my stash from the Go Bag. On number 3 bag now. What is it about more potential disasters that’s continually making me hungry???
- I wish the imminent future looked a little brighter– but never mind our schedule is suddenly WIDE open, so let’s plan and do some good!
- I wish winter would hurry up and end and the blossoms appear to distract me for a bit.
- I wish to always appreciate how lucky we are right now; power, water, food, warmth at hand, a home – albeit a ferro-concrete 30-year-old non-seismic building over my head.
- I wish the more than 440,000 displaced and in shelters tonight can find some warmth and hope – eventually. And those missing and those searching find a way home and peace.
- I wish I could stick to a word limit. Trace agrees.
Please excuse the rambling, a little cathartic to be sure. Thank you truly for all your thoughts and concern. We are totally fine, we usually love a good rock and roll – but not this mother nature kind – which we remain always humbled and awestruck by.
With much love & swaying,
Dee & Tee (both wishing for more good wishes for all…)
Little has changed since I wrote this. Except we are even more frustrated at the media coverage if at all possible and trying to get over it, but it is simply horrendous and firmly taken the focus off the unbearable suffering north. Here we’d like to share also a link to the Journalistic Hall of Shame.
Shame on you all. Most of the mentioned news organizations now barely feature the disaster and continuing human loss and suffering on front pages. It is abhorrent. Fox News in particular needs a shout out…on reporting Japan’s nuclear plants they flashed up this map…
Shibuyaeggmann…WT? Yes, it is a nightclub just up the road. Laugh or cry, you pick. Laughing more today after we’ve seen the club’s website update which says “Shibuya Eggman has no nuclear plant. Our electricity’s only powered by music.”
Also on the map there is reference to another “Sendai”, which as we all know is in the north. But just to be clear, Fox did get this one right, there is a Nuclear Plant called Sendai in the general area they’ve indicated in Kyushu. Ya know, just giving credit…
We have been contacted all week to do several media interviews, all of which we refused. But mid-week with so many gone we decided to try and explain why we were still here by taking time to talk to 60 Minutes Australia. So I went for the meeting and felt I could reasonably explain my decisions to stay, get the attention focused north where the main story of tremendous suffering was and express my love, respect and admiration for the morality of Japanese society and they way the people have just gone about life. So far we’ve had not one mention or incident of any stealing, looting or violence. Everyone lines up, calmly waiting their turn and the store employees were extremely courteous and kind. Of course there is an underlying sense of worry and concern, but a beautiful respect and desire to get things done and focus on helping others is the priority. This was what I wanted to say and tried to. I have not seen my interview and don’t want to but I am quite sure by the feedback I have received this was probably underreported or not at all. And I am so sad. An hour interview edited to 2 mins about no food on the shelves. Which is simply not the entire case. Sure there was some rationing but only because of over-stocking. My little local bakery has been baking all week. Churning out the curry-pain and mochi-doughnuts. Ok, there was not much there. No milk and eggs for a while. Saturday-Wednesday goodies were bought as soon as they came out of the oven. Sure there was less than usual. But we absolutely have food. We are not starving. We have power. We have water. We are fine. We’re just not making milkshakes.
It also seems to have been reported that our embassy has told us to emphatically go. And that just isn’t the case. I wonder if we are all reading the same notices. But obviously, DFAT needs to be clearer and less vague if so many people can read different things into the same info. Or perhaps it’s just better we all make our own minds up, and you know, not panic or anything. Wondering out loud what Australian Ministers who are actually on the ground here in Japan signed off on this…just putting it out there.
So hello stayers…on the toilet paper front though…we are almost out again, but we are certainly not reeling from any kind of infrastructure issue, we personally don’t use the trains, can easily turn off the lights to save power, have been enjoying “candle service” all week nor are we placing an excessive burden on our community which was why and only why our embassy instructed us to “consider” leaving. Infrastructure. We run a business and this is our home for now. And we’d like to think our community and friends find some comfort in us being here. Having said that we are keeping informed and have all kinds of counter measures in case things change and Fuji decides to erupt and come to the party.
We did put a very thorough plan B into action though, with our fabulous friends in Osaka (twins Lilly and Gail – oh how we love you guys), finding a fully furnished apartment for us to rent for a month if we did need to get out of town quickly. The car was almost packed a few times, Lilly assuring us that life was fabulous down in Osaka and that we could rebuild our lives in the West if Tokyo was looking like the situation would worsen into something more ongoing. Knowing that they were there and had something lined up for us, again eased some of the stress. And who knows – perhaps we could be Osaka chicks at heart. It’s certainly something to think about. A change of scenery.
When Trace is involved you simply have to have plans A-Z… She is prone to panicking, and I know she’ll kill me, but exhibit A would be the Blair Witch Attraction we stupidly paid to enter several years ago in Tokyo – at Joypolis. When we went into the awfully unrealistic indoor version of the movie attraction, we were given a meter of rope by the staff. We were to remain connected to each other at all times. Me holding one end, Trace holding the other. Did we understand? Yes. Oh and one last thing “No kick, no punch the monster, OK?” We were told. Hahahahaha. As if. So we went through the florescent-lit quasi-forest, hearing the game center beyond the make-shift laminate walls. It was so lame, we laughed the whole way. Oooo spooky. Then when we were almost at the end, when we saw a big black tree like-thing. We walked past it, still holding our rope. The tree turned out to be a person in disguise who jumped out at us. Promptly Trace kicked it, punched it and then dropped the rope and ran… gone for days. I was left there holding the end of the rope. No hint of an earthquake, tsunami or any kind of radiation. Just a man dressed poorly as a monster tree. He’s probably still in therapy. So it doesn’t take much to panic Tee, she may have moved on finally. I’m just relaying the story to describe how stressful it’s been to not panic and do things that are right for our business and community. Bravery has never been, nor continues to be a strong suit of ours. Clearly.
These are extraordinary times indeed. We’ve had more than 650 quakes, aftershocks since March 11th. You can see where we are at one end and Trace’s cousin up at the other end.
Ummm..actually now that I’ve just posted the map into the blog we are again questioning our level of stupidity…of satellite proportions. Ahhh…it’s all too much. Look at those dots. The earth really hasn’t stopped moving since March 11. Although there are getting longer and longer periods of time where we can walk straight for a while. And are not feeling so seasick. After the 9.0 earthquake on the 11th, it was reported that there was a 70% chance of another big one. Three days after that, a 40% chance. And now we are being told that the angry earth is going to mumble and grumble little ones for well over a year while she sorts herself out, readjusts her plates and lets out some pressure little by little. Still a little frightening, but having been through floods in Qld in January, friends battling horrific bushfires in Vic in 2009, other aquaintances being in Bali during the bombings, and other friends we’ve met who were affected by 9/11 in New York – you just can’t predict the world’s disasters both natural and manmade. You can only prepare the best you know how. And I’m satisfied enough, that if a big quake hit us hard here in Tokyo, Japan is ready.
Interestingly enough though, by staying we may have to end up leaving. Because we suddenly pretty much have no clients. The next 3 weeks would have been the equivalent of 3 months income with spring sessions, several weddings and events. Mother nature knocking us for a six. Of course we completely understand, and it’s not an issue at all, especially when children and families are involved. This is a very small problem in the grand scheme of things and something we will certainly be able to move forward from. But let’s keep it real, we are not the only ones in this situation. Small businesses all over Japan will be feeling it for quite some time; particularly those in the tourism field. Hearts break. We felt so energized, had so much in the works and now everything is in limbo. The future muddy and uncertain.
But we have time and we can give back. We’ve done what we can here in Tokyo as have lots of friends. Oh how we admire you all. Your get up and go is infectious! And now this week we are leaving for Miyagi to offer another skill we can give readily and without hesitation. We can tell a story. We can use the power of photography to make sure the world does not forget what has happened, that the people there living in cars, shelters, rubble have a voice they can trust and that we can also thank the world for all they are doing. We will be careful and safe and are travelling with an official aid group, an organization we hold in great esteem Peace Boat. Our love of travel and life and people simply a perfect fit for us. This will be an ongoing project. And we will be there on a human level supporting through essential services like food distribution. We will first go to Ishinomaki and take things from there. It’ll be emotionally traumatic for sure. But I’m so proud of Trace for finding the strength to do this. And I will be by her side. Sometimes we grow up in very unexpected ways.
Tentative plans include a worldwide traveling exhibition of the images on the Peace Boat’s next voyage embarking April 23rd. We would also like to hold a local fundraiser and have a few ideas in the works; including print sales of our Japanese photography. We know we need to act fast, but we also know there is so much love and support and desire to help. We will keep you all posted. Anyone who could donate or can suggest contacts who can help in the way of printing and mounting photographs for the Peace Boat exhibition, we would be so grateful.
We would also like to call on our wonderful International Photography community, our photo family, friends and contacts worldwide. Japan needs your help. We are doing this through Photographer Unite for Japan.
A facebook page (for now) dedicated to providing a platform for photographers all over the world to share their efforts in providing relief assistance. We have done this because whether we may have met or not yet, whether you have ever been to Japan or not, we do have something in common. We are connected to photography, and in someway Japan. We all make our livings from Nikons, Canons, Ricohs, Sonys… Our life, our passion, in the technology that helps us create the art we love we have all certainly been touched by the heart of this country. We encourage all our friends to think about how you could contribute…
- Donate a percentage of session
- Donate workshop fees
- Sell some equipment
- Have an exhibition
- Put on a show
- Sell some art
- Get the word out & make some noise
- Donate as little or as much as you can afford to give back to a country that has really defined our photography world
It is so worth it. The devastation and suffering is simply beyond staggering, and in this world of desensitization we can always be sure photographers firmly have their eyes open.
Post your ideas and efforts on the facebook page and show that our global photographer community really cares.
If donating money or items some worthy and hardworking charities we would recommend include:
Or if you would prefer to send it direct to us for us to get it in the hands of aid right here on the ground please send it to our PAYPAL account: email@example.com
For more info you can always email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other resources related to The Great Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami
GREAT blogging by Carole
More beautiful words from Jacinta
Best clear coverage of the news was NHK world
And our new friend Katz, from Yokoso News, totally cutting edge news from his home in Mie where he translated simultaneously with his amazing team what every media outlet was carrying in real time. Simply amazing and a source of much comfort and accurate reporting this whole roller-coaster week.
There is so much already being done here on a local and national level, as the story fades from the front page. We hear many are worried they are not doing enough. Everyone will do their part. Just at different times, and when and if they can. Let me quote Dr Suess…“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Thought and action are equally powerful. And so we find as a favorite quote goes… “that even in the darkest winters, an invincible summer is discovered within”. Humanity is essentially out there. And working. And good. Yes, Japan is a rich country but you can never put on cost on human suffering. Yes, it will be rebuilt but it will take time, much time.
Overall this past week has brought people together, it’s made our hearts ache and hurt in ways that we forget it can, and it’s made us all reach deep down inside ourselves and find strength and resolve that we perhaps didn’t even know was there. Friends who left Tokyo are now anxiously waiting to get back to take over the relief efforts of those who have been working hard back here in the aftermath. And that’s the way it’s going to be for a while. A rotational help. Just like the Fukushima 50. Every set of hands makes a difference. That’s the way life should be. It’s a good model and a fine way to spend a life.
So where are we now? Tracey’s cousin and his family up north are already back at work. With no gas, they have bought bikes and are cycling the cracked pavements to get to work and get things back to normal. Friends who are abroad are working on keeping the message out there and keeping the tragedy in people’s minds. Caroline is driving a truck around the UK collecting supplies, Photographer’s Unite is getting up and running with some big support abroad. Locals are dropping stuff off to volunteer groups & helping with blood donations etc. Other friends are on their way north too, and we keep them in our hearts. Others are out of the country until Spring when they will return energized and ready to take the reigns, the Japanese are remaining cautiously calm but getting on with life – roads already opened and repaired, only the big famous Tokyo billboards remain dark to save power for the affected regions. And us. Well, we are together. And that means we are ok. Already profoundly changed by this, I’m sure after seeing the heartbreaking tragedy firsthand on our journey north with Peace Boat (BTW we are not ON the boat, but going with the team – the boat thankfully and safely is now in the Mediterranean), we will be affected in ways we can’t imagine and hope to have the strength to tell the story and record it. Be kind and good to each other. Life is too short. Love every minute it. As we have all experienced this week, in can change in an instant.
So just checking the word count is already over 6000. New all-time Blog Record. Sorry to indulge, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, but we’d better stop. Therapeutic and all. Much more to say, but we’ll leave it for another post. Time to get active again and hope the nerves and racing-hearts dissipate for a bit. A full night of sleep last night was a welcome and lavish luxury, one we will not take for granted as often. We miss our dear friends, please come home soon, when you can and when you are ready, we understand. We wait for energy, the joy and bubbles, we wake to a new kind of world but always optimistic, we hope the ground takes a break from shaking it’s wild thing, that our blue Edano jumpsuits are on the way and we’ll look good in helmets, that we’ve made some kind of sense, that Japan is not forgotten and that those in such desperate, dire need find help, hope and love delivered soon.
We leave with some images which dramatically depart from those seen the last week. These are from our visit to Tohoku in 2006 and our drive along the spectacular coastline now battered so beyond recognition. The beauty lingers in crushed remains of waves, the memories remain.
(a still emotional and grateful) Dee & Trace x