Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earthquake, three days later

It's a little difficult to write lately. As Haikugirl writes, life goes on. Still, with all that's going on, I just can't bring myself to write about anything lighter right now. And it's been tough to write about what's happening, too. Some of the larger J-bloggers have been pretty active both on their own websites and on Twitter, keeping people abreast of what's going on ( @survivingnJapan , @gakuranman , @mutantfroginc are some good ones to follow). I haven't done much "real-time" reporting or blogging in the past, so I find myself wanting to write but instead caught up in listening to and watching the news and Twitter.

But for the moment I do want to present some of my thoughts and what's been going on here.

I know some people are still worried about me. That's fair. In their shoes, I might be, too. But things are comparatively normal here, even if transportation, energy, or shop supplies are temporarily affected (though they're not at this moment). There is still an ongoing situation with the nuclear facilities in Fukushima, but I think it is being a little overblown by foreign media. Via @joe4therecord, here's a blog hosting a message from MIT scientist Dr. Josef Oehmen, who says there is little to worry about. I did look into iodine pills and haven't ruled out buying some, but it doesn't look like the amount of radiation released will warrant using them (especially given the distance).

Watching the news is really sobering and moving. Fellow blogger Sixmats is still unaccounted for. Yoshie's aunt is from Sendai and is really torn up. But recently Yoshie told me she is proud to be Japanese. And she should be. Despite all that's happened, I've seen no accounts of looting or other wrongdoing. Everyone seems to be cooperating and trying to help each other. That's more than can be said of some other large disasters. 

The most amazing thing I've seen on the news so far, and perhaps the most moving, was the firsthand account of a woman that was being helped by the SDF. They carried her to a makeshift aid station and asked her if she was ok and what happened. Clearly very shaken up, she explained how she had opened her front door just as the tsunami was approaching, and was carried away by the water. She was able to grab hold of a fallen tree and clung desperately to it. She lost her hold but was able to get onto some floating tatami and held on for dear life. Man, I can only imagine what that must have been like.

There's also a lot of frustrating/angering stuff going on. Some people are tweeting every time there's an aftershock. I don't really blame them, but these aftershocks are going to be happening for a long time! I've also seen both calls for prayer and calls for people to not pray (and do something instead). I regard the later messages as being rather inflammatory. But people are people. Also, the captain of the Sea Shepard wrote a poem about the tsunami being Neptune's revenge upon Japan. Seriously, what a piece-of-crap thing to say. For someone who defends whales, this guy seems to have little sympathy for human life. Joe has vowed to eat nothing but whale from now on. 

With a few exceptions, this has been another experience of human beings pulling together in the face of tragedy. The support and sympathy pouring into Japan from abroad has been extraordinary, and the Japanese people are being admirably brave. Loco draws some comparisons to 9/11, and I can see why.

I hope that soon I'll be able to return to normal posting...but for now this is just too fresh. If you want to read more, I recommend the blogs and twitter accounts I mentioned above, plus I believe Japandra is compiling a list of blogs with firsthand accounts of the quake and tsunami experience.


  1. Great post Paul. You summed everything up well.

    The most inspirational part to me is the lack of looting. I've seen pictures of hundreds of people calmly lined up outside of convenience stores waiting to get food and water. As much as I love America, I'd be surprised to see cooperation like this during such a tragedy. It's a shame that now when Japan is showing the world what kind of people they really are, there are those who use it as an opportunity to tear them down.

    I'll be continuing to pray (and donating) for Japan.

  2. Thanks for this post, Paul. Well summarised. It's been interesting to watch the way that the blogging community has been blogging, tweeting etc. Mostly, I find the posts really useful. But, like you, I have seen some annoying ones too. One friend commented on Facebook that she wanted everyone back home to stop updating their statuses about everyday life when this was going on in Japan. I thought that was unfair.

    I had wondered about blogger "Sixmats" too. Although I don't know Sixmats personally I enjoyed reading about Sendai on the blog.

    Take care Paul. Let's keep doing whatever we can to help.

  3. Joe - I agree. The Japanese really know how to pull together. And yeah, all we can really do right now is as you said. As much as I'd like to volunteer to go help, there's nothing we could do that aid workers and SDF can't do better right now. I'm sure it's a mess and people like us would be in the way...

    Ali - Thanks for commenting! I agree - watching the blogging/tweeting community is an experience in and of itself, isn't it? I can understand your friend's frustration. A lot of daily life things do seem trivial in light of this. But it's important for people to keep living their lives.

    Yeah, I've been thinking about Sixmats recently and hoping he and his family are ok. I don't know him personally either, or I'd try that Google People Finder. At least Eric of In Sendai seems to be all right.

    Will do. You take care, as well!

  4. It's true, I've found a lot of great j-blogs and people on twitter to follow from all this. I'm looking at the bright sides.

  5. Glad you brought up the lack of looting. Recently, the news over here showed footage of a convenience store in Japan; the front windows were completely smashed (by Mother Nature, not people) and there was a few inches of water on the floor. The shelves were toppled, stuff was floating around...and several Japanese people were picking through the goods, bringing it up to the counter, and paying for it. I couldn't even tell if the power was on in the store, so who's to say if the registers were even operational. Seemed like a very Japanese thing to do. I admired that.

  6. I wish I understood japanese because fios is giving free access to a japanese news station right now. I thought that was nice considering how many japanese people live in the DC area.