Tag Archives: tsunami

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!

Towers around the world to be illuminated for Japan

4 Apr

Towers and skyscrapers around the world will be illuminated in white and red to show their country’s support for Japan’s recovery from the disaster of 2011 March 11.

At sunset tonight (Monday, 2011 April 4) in each country’s local time, the Empire State Building in New York City, America, the Sky Tower in New Zealand, the Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower in Malayasia, the North Tower in South Korea, the CN Tower in Canada, the Macau Tower in China, the John Hancock Observatory in America and the Spinnaker Tower in England will all be lit up in the colors of the Japanese flag.

the Empire State Building in NYC, America illuminated in the colors of Japan's flag.

Do you live near any of these towers? Did you know they will be illuminated in white and red for Japan today?

The U.S. military are Japan’s “friends”

29 Mar

Since the 2011 March 11 earthquake that struck 東北地方 (the Tohoku Region of Japan), the overseas media have reported extensively on Japanese manners and the excellent rescue and repair work conducted by the Japanese…especially those willing to risk their lives.

But with a disaster of this scale it goes without saying that Japan needs help. And people from all over the world have been extremely kind and generous. Immediately after the tsunami destroyed the lives of so many in the Sendai area, rescue teams and donations came to help from many countries.

I saw a news report on TV here in Japan that focused on the U.S. military’s relief assistance in Sendai and Fukushima.

The U.S. military has a number of bases in various parts of Japan and the Japanese people understand the sacrifices that those in the military make and most of the Japanese people appreciate the protection that the U.S. military gives to Japan by having bases here.
But it’s a bit of a perennial problem in Japan. The U.S. bases take up valuable land in this small country, there have been a number of crimes, sometimes violent ones, committed by American servicemen stationed here, and some of the bases are for the Air Force and have noisy jets flying overheard all day everyday which greatly disturbs the people who live in the vicinity.

But since America has sent over 18,000 American service-people from the bases around Japan to help with the rescue and rebuilding of the Sendai area and also helping to cool down the nuclear plant in Fukushima, the people of Japan have seen the U.S. military at their best.
And they’re quite good!

The U.S. military has named the work they’re doing 「友だち作戦」 (“Operation: Tomodachi”).
「友だち」 (“Tomodachi“) is Japanese for “friends“.

They have a patch on their sleeve of the Japanese flag with the Japanese character 「」 which says “friend” in Japanese. And 「がんばろう日本」 which means “We can do it, Japan!“.

The TV news program I saw showed the U.S. Marines giving bottled water, food and blankets to the people left with nothing since the tsunami. But it also showed them giving American candy and toys to the children who lost everything they own. Toys and chocolate may seem unimportant…unless you saw the big smiles of those children. It was very heartwarming and thoughtful of the Marines to remember to bring something for those kids.

But the most impressive things I saw the U.S. Marines do in that report was when they quickly restored electricity to a town that was without power since the earthquake two weeks ago. And also, the Sendai Airport was such a mess and covered with so much debris since the tsunami that the Japanese authorities believed it would take too long to clear the runways for the airport to be of any use to bring much needed relief to the city…but the Marines got busy clearing the mess as soon as they arrived in Sendai and later the same day, the runways were cleared enough to be used!

Even the people who would like the U.S. military to not be stationed in Japan are extremely impressed and grateful for their help!
Thank you U.S. military. You really are a 「友だち」 (tomodachi)!

Songs For Japan

26 Mar

A number of American and European pop musicians have contributed songs for a charity album for the victims of the recent disaster in Japan.

The album is titled “Songs For Japan“.

 

"Songs For Japan" album cover

I assume that all of the artists that appear on this album are famous…but I personally have only heard of a few of them (and I like even less of them).

The musicians and track listing on this album are as follows:

01. John LennonImagine
02. U2Walk On
03. Bob DylanShelter From The Storm
04. Red Hot Chili PeppersAround The World
05. Lady GagaBorn This Way
06. BeyonceIrreplaceable
07. Bruno MarsTalking To The Moon
08. Katy PerryFirework
09. RihannaOnly Girl (In The World)
10. Justin TimberlakeLike I Love You
11. MadonnaMiles Away
12. David GuettaWhen Love Takes Over
13. EminemLove The Way You Lie
14. Bruce SpringsteenHuman Touch
15. Josh GrobanAwake
16. Keith UrbanBetter Life
17. Black Eyed PeasOne Tribe
18. P!nkSober
19. Cee Lo GreenIt’s OK
20. Lady AntebellumI Run To You
21. Bon JoviWhat Do You Got?
22. Foo FightersMy Hero
23. R.E.M.Man On The Moon
24. Nicki MinajSave Me
25. SadeBy Your Side
26. Michael BubleHold On
27. Justin BieberPray
28. AdeleMake You Feel My Love
29. EnyaIf I Could Be Where You Are
30. Elton JohnDon’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
31. John MayerWaiting On The World To Change
32. QueenTeo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)
33. Kings Of LeonUse Somebody
34. StingFragile
35. Leona LewisBetter In Time
36. Ne-YoOne In A Million
37. ShakiraWhenever, Wherever
38. Norah JonesSunrise

This album costs US$9.99 and is available from i-tunes exclusively. All of the money from this album will be donated to the Red Cross of Japan to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in the Sendai area of Japan.

Click here if you want to buy it.

In honor of the modern day Samurai

25 Mar

Have you ever heard of the 「福島50」 (“Fukushima 50“)?

After the explosion at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan that was caused by the tsunami on 2011 March 11, all of the plant workers were evacuated…except fifty.

These fifty brave men stayed behind, despite the extreme risk to their lives, to try to bring the nuclear plant back under control.

Due to the health risk of prolonged expose to the radiation, a few hundred more volunteers came back to the plant so that they could work to repair the plant in shifts in groups of fifty men each.

The "Fukushima 50" working to bring the plant back online.

I saw an interview on TV with the teenage daughter of one of the Fukushima 50. She said that her father said after the accident at the plant that his experience was needed there and he knew he had to go. She said that she was proud of him for risking his life for the good of the rest of us.

That’s how everyone in Japan feels about all of the Fukushima 50. We are all grateful for their willingness to give the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Here’s an excellent video that someone made and posted on YouTube as a tribute to these modern-day Samurai:

Have you heard about the Fukusima 50 on the news in your country?

Japan is putting aside materialism for Sendai

23 Mar

Do you know the “Ad Council“?

The Ad Council (of America)

If you’re not American, you probably don’t. Even if you are American, you may know their TV ads but not recognize the name.

The Ad Council puts public service commercials on TV. Not trying to sell anything…just addressing a problem in society.

When I lived in America, their most well-known commercials were probably the “Crash Test Dummies” that were used to try to convince people to fasten their seat-belts when they were in a car and anti-drunk driving ads with the catch-phrase “Drinking and driving can kill a friendship“.

The American Ad Council “Crash Test Dummies” seat-belt ad:

The American Ad Council “Drinking and driving can kill a friendship” ad (you can tell it’s from the ’80s…Michael Jackson’s music was playing in the background:

The Ad Council is in Japan as well.
Here it’s called 「社団法人ACジャパン」 (“AC (Ad Council) Japan Association“).

AC Japan logo

The ads by AC Japan are quite different from America’s Ad Council commercials. Rather than car safety the ads here mainly focus on manners.

If you’re in Japan now and you watch Japanese TV you’ve surely noticed that ever since the 2011 March 11 earthquake the commercials on TV here have been almost exclusively AC Japan ads.

This is because it would considered poor taste and a bit rude to show commercials for beer, fast-food, cars, or other materialistic goods when so many people in 東北地方 (the Tohoku Region) have lost so much and are in need of basic necessities.

So, to fill the time spaces in pre-recorded TV shows that are normally for commercial ads…all of the TV stations in Japan put messages from AC Japan in their place.

The ads extol the virtues of reading, recycling, and being polite.

Here’s one that I occasionally saw on TV a couple of years ago but since March 11th, I’ve seen it countless times. It has a good message though…my translation of it would be something like: “No one can see your heart, but everyone can see how you use your heart. No one can see your thoughts, but everyone can see your compassion.”

They also have one titled 「魔法の言葉で」 (“The Magic Words”).

Not easy to explain, but this ad has characters named after some basic Japanese “magic words” of basic manners. The names are a play on words in Japanese…but when translated into English, the word-pun is lost.

"Arigatousagi" ("Thank you Bunny")

"Itadakimausu" (The "Let's Eat" Mouse)

"Gochisousamausu" (The "Thank you for the meal" Mouse)

"Ittekimasukanku" ("I'm Leaving Skunk")

"Konbanwani" ("Good evening Gator")

"Konnichiwan" ("Good Afternoon Doggy")

"Ohayounagi" ("Good morning Eel")

"Oyasuminasai" ("Good night Rhino")

"Sayonaraion" ("Farewell Lion")

"Tadaimanbou" ("I'm Home Sunfish")

See? The names are cute play on words in Japanese…but kinda odd in English.
But you might enjoy the TV ad anyways:

Besides these TV ads in place of regular commercials, other noticeable differences in Tokyo since the disaster of March 11th are shops opening later and closing earlier everyday…and using only the bare minimum of lighting necessary. All shops and places of business are doing it.

This is to conserve electricity since the nuclear power plant disaster. It’s a bit surreal to see the usually well-lit and neon Tokyo nights so dark these days.

Also, the trains in Japan usually have poster ads on the walls and hanging from the ceiling…but, for the same reason as the eliminated TV ads, these days the trains have very few poster ads.

But soon, I’m confident, Japan will be back to normal.

(By the way, if you want to see my post about Japanese train and subway “manner posters”…click here and here.)

One week later

18 Mar

It’s now 2:47PM on Friday, 2011 March 18th. The biggest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history struck at 2:46PM on Friday, 2011 March 11th…exactly one week ago.

The giant tsunami that was triggered by the earthquake

I wrote this post at 2:47PM and not at 2:46 (the time the ‘quake struck) because at 2:46PM, all of Japan offered one-minute of silence to honor the victims of the tragedy.

It’s one week later and of course too soon for there to have been much significant improvement or recovery from such a major disaster.

Boat left on a house by the tsunami.

Between the search for survivors, rebuilding the intensely damaged areas, and getting the nuclear power plant back under control…Japan is facing a huge challenge. All the while earthquake aftershocks are still occurring…even down here in Tokyo.
But I’m confident life will be back to “normal” soon enough.