3/11/11 Tribute

Five years ago, Rex Murphy of the CBC’s National delivered the best ode I’ve heard to the national strengths of character revealed as Japan coped with the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis on March 11, 2011:



Cool Story by Me! “The Day the Earth Moved” in new travel anthology


“The Day the Earth Moved,” my personal essay about the Great East Japan Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Crisis from a Tokyo expat’s perspective, will be included in Adventures of a Lifetime: Travel Tales from Around the World, an anthology from World Traveler Press. Publication date is December 15, 2014.

Shakin’ it Forward Charity Event Sunday, April 20th

Just a reminder to everyone Tokyo-side that this weekend there will be a charity music and reading event at Infinity Books in Asakusa. Proceeds go to Support Our Kids which sends Tohoku teens on homestays abroad. The event kicks off at 3pm. There’s also Shakin’ it Back, an anthology of poems and stories collected to support victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear disaster.

Hope to see you there!

Great East Japan Earthquake Charity Reading: Shakin’ It Back at Infinity Books in Asakusa

attachment-536832681 Back in 2011, the local and expat artistic community alike wanted to do something to help the survivors of the March 11th earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis in the Tohoku region of northern Japan. Some staged charity events; others went north to volunteer with the cleanup. Some did both.

For my part, I read a short essay at a charity reading even, Shakin’ It Back, at What the Dickens in Ebisu. “In Bloom” was inspired by the bravery and self-sacrifice I witnessed in some of my students the day we had to evacuate the main school building and spend the night in the gym, uncertain, what lay ahead of us…

Now, three years later, clean-up and recovery efforts continue. As a fund-raising effort, some of the performers from the original Shakin’ It Back event have contributed their poems and prose pieces to an anthology, available as an ebook from amazon.com.

Two readings are being planned, both at Infinity Books‘ new brick-and-mortar location in Asakusa. The first event will raise funds for Support Our Kids, which sends Tohoku teens on homestays abroad. The second event will once again support Japan Heart, the original recipient of the What the Dickens event, which provides healthcare and life support to Tohoku survivors, as well as people in Myanmar and Cambodia.

The first reading is scheduled for Sunday, April 20th from 3 – 10 pm. The second reading will be in May (TBD).

I plan to be at one or the other – perhaps both! Hope to see you there!

Great East Japan Earhquake Update: 267,000 syill evacuees; charity efforts ongoing

On the third anniversary of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake – and the tsunami and nuclear mayhem that followed – the Japan Times reports that 267,000 people are still evacuees nationwide, and that 97,000 people in the most affected areas still live in makeshift accommodation.

I included in the previous post links to charities working in the Tohoku region. Back in 2011 I participated in a music and spoken word event, Shakin it Back, at What the Dickens in Ebisu. Now, an anthology of work read at that event has been published for the Kindle, mostly through the efforts of Taylor Mignon – one of the organizers of the original event. There’s a short essay of mine in there, “In Bloom”,  which I wrote in response to how my students – who had to evacuate the school – handled themselves on a day that tested the mettle of everyone affected. Half the proceeds of the book sales will go to organizations who continue to work with victims of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis.

Great East Japan Earthquake Third Anniversary

 This Tuesday, March 11th marks the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. If you haven’t already, check out “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” video, trailer above. WARNING: trailer shows footage from the actual event. Can be very, very upsetting for some viewers….

Also, please remember that even now, three years on, the Tohoku region is still recovering from the disaster. Here’s an aggregate of current news stories from The Japan Times about the region.

Wanna help out? Donations and relief work are ongoing. Here’s a list of local and international agencies working in Tohoku. Read their project descriptions, choose one, and lend a hand…

Interesting Times Tokyo/Tohoku: “The most terrifying situation I can imagine.”

 In all honesty, I don’t know what to make of all this. Is Japan really at 95% chance of nuclear catastrophe within the next three years, as noted Canadian scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki asserts? The possibility is so hard to get one’s head around that no-one I know here in Japan really thinks about it. Guess it’s like climate change: the problems are so big, the dangers so immense, but the dangers seeming so remote, or so far in the future, or so far beyond our ability to control, that it doesn’t trigger our lizard brains, our instinct for survival. As a result, the 35+ million people in the metropolitan Tokyo area, not to say the rest of Japan, go about their lives as if nothing will happen. And indeed, nothing may. On the other hand, scientists at the University of Tokyo are apparently predicting that there’s a 70% that “The Big One” will hit Tokyo by 2016. I don’t hear denial. What I hear and see is people, including me, shocked into inaction by the enormity of it all. Plus a generous dose of displacement: “It won’t happen to me.”

So. Catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis. Nuclear crises. Global warming. Industrial-Revolution-era income disparity. Am I missing anything?

Is it just me, getting older, crotchety? Or is this really the “interesting times in that apparently faux-Ancient Chinese-wisdom curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Indeed.