Dreaming Big in Japan

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A quick pick-me-up

Just after I finished the last post, I was feeling down. I came across this quote, “Please believe in Japan so that we can overcome this crisis and start walking, not the same as before but as a wiser community.” I think this answers my previous question, and it does give me some hope

The little bit of good news we can offer is that the island of Ajishima appears to be doing ok, all things considered. We got word from the island indirectly (from the the main hospital branch in Tochigi Prefecture). The head nurse on the island called the main branch and left a message for Michie that she was still welcome, and much needed, to start working on April 1st, or whenever we could make it there.

We heard that a news report would air last night after 10 pm with a clip about Ajishima. Actually, all it was was a few frames inside a military helicopter and of the passengers it brought along, utilities workers. It was only about three minutes and they showed nothing from the island nor of the people there, although the news crew obviously took time to land first, set up a nice frame and direct the military chopper dramatically in over the hospital. At least they got a good shot!

We also learned from our friends on the island through their blog that the island just got electricity back yesterday, but still no water. Forty or so houses were destroyed, but thankfully they were all uninhabited. One ferry started operations again, but bad weather and an ocean port full of debris have caused many cancellations. Once the ferry started, the military stopped flying supply runs to the island. The people there must still be struggling over two weeks into this disaster. 

Our shipment of (200 cubic feet of) stuff we sent from the US arrives tomorrow at a port south of Tokyo, and will take a week or so to clear customs and get delivered. We thought we would be able to have it shipped to the island directly, even now, although the intermittent ferry schedule would be tough to negotiate. So we are going to have to have it shipped to Michie’s mom’s house. It will all barely fit in Michie's old room, but that will leave us with no living space at all.

We are free to go to the island and start moving in anytime, contingent upon the ferry actually being able to set sail. At this point, though, we do not know when that will happen.

About the only other bright spot we have right now, is the Permaculture Design Course Michie signed us up for. The first class is at the end of April and it goes for a year, with monthly classes, seminars and hands on training. It is in Nagano Prefecture, south of us and east of Tokyo. It will take us well over nine hours to drive there if we rent a car, or a small fortune to take the train. Nothing is cheap in Japan, never has been, except for bean sprouts that sell for about 12 cents a bag! But not now because the supermarket shelves are literally half bare.

There may be plans afoot to raise donations to help the people of Ajishima. My family in the US is looking into this possibility. If it works out, we hope to procure resources here locally that we can then deliver to the people who need it. We want to focus on food and water for the Ajishima islanders first. If we can raise more, then we can extend that help to others. And if we raise even more, then we were thinking along the lines of something more sustainable and long lasting, like materials to build a simple solar/wind energy system or water purifier on the island to help them cope with possible future utility disruptions.

I will keep you all posted on the progress of this possible fund raiser.

In the meantime here is a link to an article my step mom helped get into the Lansing State Journal about our experiences thus far.

Thank you all for your support!!!

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