Tag Archives: earthquake

昨日は・・・

12 Feb

Yesterday, February 11th, was the anniversary of a few things…not all of them good.

For one, February 11th is a holiday in Japan. 「建国記念日」 (“National Founding Day”). (Click here for my short FAQ about it.)

It was kind of a waste that February 11 was on a Saturday this year because most people already had the day off and the holiday wasn’t observed on another day. If it was a Sunday, then tomorrow (Monday) would have been a day off.
Oh well.

February 11th also happens to be my father-in-law’s birthday.

Those two are the “happy” anniversaries of February 11th. The following two are more somber ones:

Yesterday, February 11 (2012), was the eleven-month anniversary of the 2011 March 11 earthquake / tsunami in north-eastern Japan.

The other sad event happened exactly twenty-four years ago yesterday. On 1988 February 11. At my high school in Florida.
It was many years until I was finally able to talk about this. Maybe it was post-traumatic shock.
But at lunch time on 1988 February 11, I was a senior-year high school student (in the final year of high school) and when I went into the lunch room I witnessed two students in a struggle with some teachers and then suddenly one of the boys drew a gun and shot the assistant principal Richard Allen fatally in the head!
All of the students in the lunch room began screaming and running but I suppose I was in shock because I just stood there staring. Everyone seemed to be running past me in slow-motion.
The memory no longer wakes me in nightmare but I will never forget that day.

A memorial photo of Richard Allen at my former high school in Florida (Pinellas Park HS).

If you click here, you can read a newspaper article about the tragic shooting at my former high school that was written four years ago on the twentieth anniversary.

Richard Allen, R.I.P.

2011 in review

31 Dec

It is now the evening of 2011 December 31st in Japan…a few hours ’til New Years Day 2012.

So, what do you think the five biggest news stories of 2011 were?

I think I’d say:
● The 2011 March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, Japan.
● The ten year anniversary of the 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks in America.
● The death of Muammar Gaddafi on 2011 October 20.
● The death of Osama bin Laden on 2011 May 2.
● The Occupy protest movement.

Which events epitomized this past year to you? Tell me in the comments section of this post.

Here’s a YouTube video that shows many photos and videos of this year’s biggest news through a series of “Google searches“:

This years kanji

12 Dec

Every December a 漢字 (Japanese kanji character) is chosen in Japan that best summarizes the year that is ending…and it becomes the official 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year”) in a ceremony in Kyoto with the temple monk writing the character in calligraphy brushstrokes on a large board.

The 2011 Kanji of the Year is 「絆」 ("Bond").

The official character for 2011 was announced today. It’s 「絆」 (Kizuna)…which means “(to) bond“.

This was chosen because of the way the people of Japan and the world came together to help the victims of the March 11 earthquake.

(Last year (2010), the Kanji of the Year meant “hot”. Click here to find out why.)

Anniversary of one tragedy and another around the world

11 Sep

Today is the tenth anniversary of the 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks in America.
No one will ever forget the two jumbo jets that were crashed into the World Trade Center towers and brought them down. It was a shocking and tragic event.
2,753 innocent people were killed in the attack on New York City.

But less often mentioned are the other two planes of the September 11th attacks.
American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and crashed into The Pentagon in Washington DC, killing 184 innocent people.
And United Airlines Flight 93 was also hijacked and most likely headed for another high-profile crowded target to be crashed into. But this flight was different. The hijackers of United 93 had their cowardly plan foiled by the heroic passengers and crew of that flight!
The passengers and crew of that plane called their loved ones on the ground and told them that they understood what had to be done…and then they overtook the terrorists and forced the plane to crash into an empty field rather than another building.
Tragically, 40 innocent people lost their lives from that flight…but if it wasn’t for their selfless actions, the death toll most likely would have been much higher.

Memorial to the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93

Some of the phone calls weren’t disconnected and a telephone operator heard the voice of one of the passengers named Tom Beamer as he led the revolt against the terrorists with rallying cry to his fellow passengers of “Are you ready? OK, let’s roll!

Shortly after the events of 2001 September 11th, the American heavy metal band “L.A. Guns” recorded a song about the heroes of United Flight 93.

The song is titled “OK, Let’s Roll!”.  Here are the lyrics:

United Airlines Flight 93
Left 8:01 from Gate 17
Victims of a war they never knew existed
Hell looked them in the eyes and still they resisted

Lost brave souls, your courage we remember
Sacrificed your lives that September
We still hear your battle cry
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

So began the massacre at twenty thousand feet
Red devils lead the charge and pulled the captain from his seat
They watched them cut and slash at anyone left standing
We knew deep in our hearts this plane would not be landing

Never once were they ever in control
Lives were lost, but they never took a soul
We still hear your battle cry
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

Skies of Pennsylvania became a battle ground
Two hundred miles away, the towers had come down
One last chance to say goodbye, he called her on his phone
Said he knew what must be done, “I am not coming home.”

Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

–“OK, Let’s Roll” by L.A. Guns

You can listen to it here:


—-
Today is also the six-month anniversary of the 2011 March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku area of Japan.

There are still many people there living in evacuation shelters. And, just like the 2001 September 11 attacks, there are many heart-breaking stories of people who lost their loved ones. And there are stories of courage and people helping each other.

Both the events ten years ago in America and six months ago in northern Japan were terrible and shocking.  I hope we never have to see such tragedies ever again.

I want to be a wave

16 Aug

A Japanese singer / songwriter named 「花坂美里」 (Misato Hanasaka), who goes by the stage name “misato“, is from Iwate, Japan…which is an area that was hit by the 2011 March 11 tsunami.

She heard a news report about a four-year-old boy whose mother died in the tsunami. The boy, named 「及川律くん」 (Ritsu Oikawa), knew that his mother was washed away in a wave but he’s too young to really understand. He said 「波になって会いたいな。」 (“I want to become a wave so I can be with (mother)“).

Ritsu Oikawa (4), right, and his younger brother Ei (3). (photo from Mainichi News)

The boys’ father told them that their mother is now the most beautiful star in the sky and they can see her up there. (This is commonly told to children in Japan if they lose a loved one).

When misato heard about the boy’s story it make a strong emotional impact on her so she decided to write a song for the boy.

Her song is titled 「波になりたい」 (“I Want To Become A Wave“).

The song is in Japanese but it says such things as: “Hey Mama, please hold me again and we can look down on the street from up in the sky”, and “I want to see mama again. I want to become a wave and carry you home. I want to become a wave and then see mama again!”

Here’s the song on YouTube:

Night Zoo

15 Aug

From last Friday until tomorrow (2011 August 16), Tokyo’s 上野動物園 (Ueno Zoo) is having a “Night Zoo” special program where guests can stay in the zoo until 8:00PM and see the animals’ behavior at night.

I took a picture of this sign at the zoo's entrance. It says "So, let's go to the zoo at night. August 12 - 16 until 8PM (last admission is 7PM)"

We went to the “Night Zoo” yesterday. It was fun to go to the zoo at night especially in the summer when it’s sweltering everyday in Tokyo now…because the temperature goes down a bit.

Before we went into the zoo, I mailed a friend of mine a summer postcard from the panda mailbox that I wrote about in this post.

Back of the "panda mailbox". The tail and ears can be seen.

Panda Mailbox

Near the entrance of the zoo, close to the panda house, the zoo was collecting donations for the victims of the 2011 March 11 earthquake.
Anyone who donated at least ¥100 (US$1.30 at today’s exchange rates) was given a special うちわ (paper fan).
We got a couple of them.

Ueno Zoo "Night Zoo" fans...proceeds go to help the earthquake victims.

The front has many pandas and stars and says "midsummer night's zoo"

The back shows the back of seven pandas whose tails spell "Ueno Zoo" and it says 「がんばろう!日本」 ("Never give up! Japan") and 「手をつなごう、子供も大人も動物も」 ("Hand-in-hand...kids, adults and animals")

My camera isn’t so good at taking nighttime pictures, so I didn’t take many photos of the animals.
But we had a good time there. We’ve been to many zoos around Japan many times, but this was our first time to go to the “Night Zoo”. Ueno Zoo only has the “Night Zoo” once a year in the summertime…tomorrow is the last day for this year’s “Night Zoo”. So, if you’re in Japan now, you should consider going!

Does you local zoo have a “Night Zoo”? Have you ever attended it?

Buy a KISS car to help Japan

7 Jun

The English car company Mini Cooper has teamed up with the American rock band KISS to help Japan.

...meets...

The car company has painted four of their “Mini Countryman” cars with KISS make-up (one car for each of the original KISS members’ make-up) and they are currently being auctioned for charity via e-bay.

The auction ends at 4:00PM on 2011 June 8 (PST in the U.S.) (which is 8:00AM 2011 June 9 in Japan), so now is your chance to bid if you want one (or more) of these cars.
The current bid (when I wrote this post) is US$30,200 (about ¥2,421,834) for the cheapest one (the “Ace Frehley” design) and US$31,300 (about ¥2,510,047) for the most expensive (the “Gene Simmons” design).

All proceeds from the auction of these cars will be donated to UNICEF to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan, as well as victims of other disasters around the world.

Here’s a picture of the cars (all of them are autographed by the current band members of KISS, incidentally):

I’m a big fan of KISS, but some the merchandise they release is too “over the top” for my taste (ie: the “KISS Casket“).
I can’t imagine myself driving around in one of those cars…but if I had to chose one—I think the “Gene Simmons / Demon” design is the best of the four.

It is very generous of KISS and Mini-Cooper to do this to help people in need.

How about you? What do you think of these cars?

Selfless heroes

2 Jun

Maybe you’ve heard that two members of the original Fukushima 50 who have been working inside the nuclear plant since the day it became damaged have been exposed to amounts of radiation well above the limit that the government set for the emergency workers.

It is for reasons such as this that Mr. Yasuteru Yamada, a 72 year old retired engineer, and a group of other retirees have announced their desire to replace the current younger workers in the damaged nuclear plant.

Yasuteru Yamada

The group consists of retired men with a variety of skills and knowledge that would be helpful in repairing the plant…such as retired engineers, university professors, military, crane operators, construction workers, welders and so on.

Mr. Yamada said that it’s not right for young people still have many years ahead of them, and may have or want to have small children to raise, to risk their lives when he and the other retirees who have decades of related knowledge and experience and have already lived most of their lives are willing and able to do this dangerous work.

I was impressed with their selfless willingness to sacrifice themselves to help others. Most of his group signed up without hesitation as soon as they learned about this group.

“We shouldn’t leave a negative legacy for the next generation.”
— Yasuteru Yamada

Treasured items after the Sendai Earthquake

22 Apr

The 「毎日新聞」 (“Mainichi News”) Japanese newspaper interviewed some of the survivors of the March 11 earthquake in the 東北地方 (Tohoku Region) who lost loved ones and most of their possessions and asked them to show something that has become a treasure to them in this difficult time.

Some of the replies were very touching. Here are a sample of them (all photos in this post are ©毎日新聞 (Mainichi News)):

This 11-year-old boy, who lost his grandfather and great-grandmother in the earthquake, treasures his school bag that his teacher found in the rubble of his elementary school.

This man treasures the wrist-watch that was found on the body of his son, that was a firefighter who died in the disaster

This 4-year old girl's family lost all of their possessions. She treasures the donated toy that was given to her at the shelter her family's staying at.

This woman lost her husband in the tsunami. She treasures her family photos.

This eldery man's wife has been missing since the tsunami. He put his hand on his heart and said that he will always treasure his memories.

Mother Nature wants to be sure we haven’t forgotten who’s boss

11 Apr

花見 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing“) is a centuries-old Japanese tradition. Every spring, Japanese people have a picnic with friends and family under the 桜 (Cherry Blossom) trees.

Japanese people have always loved the pink Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), as can be seen in many things in Japan such as haiku poems, ukiyoe (woodblock prints), paintings, Sakura-flavored snacks, tea and 日本酒 (Japanese sake rice-wine).

I wrote a post last year explaining a bit about Japan’s love of 桜 (Sakura flowers) and 花見 (“Cherry-Blossom Viewing”).

Basically, the Sakura are beautiful and fragile and they are in bloom for only a short time before they fall to the ground in a way that looks like beautiful, gentle pink snowfall…it’s called 「桜吹雪」 (“Sakura-fubuki” (Sakura snowfall)).
They symbolize the beauty, fragility and brevity of life itself.

But this year, due to the disaster last month, the Japanese government has asked people to use 自粛 (self-restraint) this “Cherry Blossom Viewing” season.

Does it seem odd to you that the government would ask that of people in Japan?
I have heard that many people from other countries were surprised to learn that the Japanese government would request people to refrain from Cherry Blossom Viewing or at least to do it quietly and reverently this year.

But in Japan we have no problem with such a request. In fact, even if the government hadn’t asked, most people in Japan probably would have done so anyways.
In many cases 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) leads people to drink excessively and sometimes become a bit loud. But this year, so soon after the huge disaster in the 東北地方 (Tohoku Region) and with so many up there still trying to recover from it, no one is in the mood to celebrate.
Many people are electing to skip Cherry Blossom Viewing this year, and those who are doing it this year are doing so quietly and with more reflection.

Today my wife and I went to a temple with a small lunch to enjoy a quiet 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing).
Here are some photos that I took:

Some junior high school students walking to school. The school year has just begun in Japan.

Can you see the Sakura petals falling in 桜吹雪 ("Sakura snowfall")?

Many Sakura petals on the ground.

Back of 大仏 (Buddah)

Not long after we returned home, our house shook pretty hard from a big aftershock that was a 振動 5 (Level 5 of the Japanese earthquake scale (with goes to “7”))! It was a 振動 6 (level 6 (out of 7)) at it’s epi-center in the Sendai area! It was then that I realized today is the one-month anniversary of the 2011 March 11 Sendai Earthquake!