Thursday, March 31, 2011

3月31日(sangatsu sanjyuichi nichi): March 31

The last day of March. It was rather warm.
It's been 20 days since the earthquake happened, but I feel it was a long time ago.
We, Japanese people, have received so many kind assistance, word, and donation from more than 134 regions and countries, and 29 international organizations. We really appreciate for your thought and deed.
There is a saying "A friend in need is a friend indeed."
We are also trying to collect donations, dispatch the professionals and volunteers to the devastated areas, and accept the victims to the houses.

We heard the news of the opening of the cherry blossoms in Kochi (高知). Spring is just around the corner.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3月30日(sangatsu sanjyu nichi): March 30

It was rather warm during daytime but became cold at night.

In Japanese society the fiscal and school year starts on April 1, therefore it is the season of the new beginning. In our department some staffs will leave tomorrow and other staffs will come from April 1.
Since the earthquake, there have been planned blackout, and the train schedule is irregular. Therefore we decided not to have the farewell party at night as we used to have but had farewell lunch today. Nearly 30 people attended for the 2 staffs who will have a new start on April 1.
Good luck!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3月29日(sangatsu nijyuku nichi): March 29

It was fine and warmer today.

Since the earthquake only earthquake related news have been broadcast for a few days. After that commercial broadcasting stations have started to broadcast regular programs. However there were no regular commercial films between the programs but the ones made by AC (Advertising Council Japan). AC is 40th year corporate juridical person company of 1200 companies. They have not made commercial films for earthquakes until that time. So the same commercial films were repeated again and again. And we were tired of watching them. These days they made new commercial films to encourage the victim of the earthquakes.
I have been wondering about this phenomenon and happened to see the TV program mentioned about this and read the newspaper article.

Monday, March 28, 2011

3月28日(sangatsu nijyuhachi nichi): March 28

It was fine today.

At night I watched NHK's TV program titled "Professional." Today's program was a special version of collecting the phrase or words that deeply influenced the professionals. There are some professionals, and each of them introduced their special word which they feel encouraged.
One of them was "If you do not seek, you would not be given." Other was "I won't fail because I do not stop until I succeed."

In Japanese there is a word kotodama (言霊), literally means word spirit. Words are considered to have spirit. So if you think something, and if you say something, it will come true. So it's better say good things.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

3月27日(sangatsu nijyushichi nichi): March 27

Last Sunday of March. It was fine and warm today, but started raining in the night. They say it will be very cold tomorrow morning.

We still have many TV programs related the Tohoku Kanto (東北関東) earthquakes. I watched the documentary of the area which had tsunami (津波) attack.
Parents went to look for their daughter and had happened to find her memorial photo of Coming-of-Age day. She wore furisode (振袖), the long sleeves kimono at the age of 20. Her mother showed the picture to the neighbourhood and started to sob. In Japanese funeral we decorate the picture of a deceased person. She thought it may become her picture.
Many people lost everything by tsunami. I have not noticed until that time that there are so many people that would not have a picture to be remembered. Town or city halls also had damages. Japanese people have family register called koseki (戸籍), but many people lost all of these documentation. How sad!

3月26日(sangatsu nijyuroku nichi): March 26

I went grocery shopping. Compared to last week, the situation seemed improved. But there were still no batteries. Because of the influence of radioactive contamination this week, there were no water pet bottles. The shelves of dried foods such as noodles were almost empty.
There were no lines of cars waiting at the gas station, and I could fill up my car.

The length of broadcasting of NHK related to the earthquake was accumulated to 274 hours until 23rd, for 13 days. That of Hanshin (阪神) Great earthquake was 273 hours for a month. And about 500 NHK reporters, 5 helicopters, and many relay mobiles were sent to the Tohoku (東北) area. This has never happened before. From this number we know how big the disaster was.

We are worried about the ocean water near the nuclear plants now.

Friday, March 25, 2011

3月25日(sangatsu nijyugo nichi): March 25

It was so cold in the morning that the windshield was frozen.
It's been two weeks since the earthquake happened. But I feel it was a long time ago. We still have earthquakes.
We have been worried about the people in Tohoku (東北) area and the nuclear plants in Fukushima (福島), and thinking what we can do for them now and future. Fundraising, planned blackout, saving on electricity, not cornering the market, blood donation, sending supplies, volunteer work, accepting victims, making temporary housing, mentally support, pray.....
Individual power is limited, but if all get together, the power will be stronger.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

3月24日(sangatsu nijyuyokka): March 24

There were some earthquakes today.
We were informed that they found radiation in spinach cultivated in Ibaraki (茨城) and in water in Tokyo. Their level is minor but the government recommended for babies not to drink water from the tap and they decided to provide mineral water pet bottles.
I heard there were no water pet bottles at the convenience stores.
Three workers were exposed to radiation today when they tried to retrieve the nuclear plants.
The devastating situation of the Tohoku (東北) area are often shown on TV. But I was surprised to hear from my friend that even in Urayasu, Chiba (千葉県浦安市:chiba ken urayasu shi), where is the city of Tokyo Disneyland, there are liquefaction and there are many manholes projecting or cars and bicycles sticking into the earth which look like objet d'art.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

3月23日(sangatsu nijyusan nichi): March 23

It was very cold outside today.

I had 4 days off this weekend, so I felt the night view of Tokyo had changed. It became darker because many department stores and offices close earlier than before to save electricity. At the stations I found many vending machines were out of service. We still carry out "planned blackout" and there are fewer trains running, therefore there are so many people on the train. This may continue for the next several months.

Today the 83rd National High School Baseball Invitation Tournament began.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3月22日(sangatsu nijyuni nichi): March 22

It was a very cold rainy day.
The planned blackout occurred from 15:50 to 18:40 today. Without electricity to make the room warm and to cook were difficult.
We will have it at daytime tomorrow.
According to the news it will happen until summer or longer. For the time being the areas are divided into 5 groups, but it will be 25 groups which will be informed on March 25 and start on March 26.

Monday, March 21, 2011

3月21日(sangatsu nijyuichi nichi): March 21

It rained. We still have earthquakes here and there. There was no planned blackout today.

Today is a national holiday called shunbun no hi (春分の日), the Vernal Equinox Day. Shunbun (春分) literally means spring divide. It is the day the length of the day and the night is equal. It is one of nijyushisekki (二十四節季), the 24 solar terms. The last one was keichitsu (啓蟄) on March 6, and the next one is seimei (清明) on April 5.
It is also higan no nakabi (彼岸の中日) or chunichi (中日), middle day of equinoctial week. We usually go to ancestor's grave and offer the sweets called botamochi (牡丹餅) or ohagi (御萩), rice cake covered with bean jam.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

3月20日(sangatsu hatsuka): March 20

It's been 10 days since the earthquake happened. In the morning around 10:30 we had another earthquake. There was no planned blackout today.

It is a season of graduation. So many schools have canceled to have graduation ceremony since the earthquake happened. But there was the graduation ceremony of the National Defense Academy in Japan.

It's been 16 years since the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

3月19日(sangatsu jyuku nichi): March 19

We have three day weekend. Fortunately we had electricity today.

I went grocery shopping. There were fewer cars than usual on the road. Some gas stations were closed, so were other shops because of the influence of blackout. I saw one gas station open, and there were about 300-meter lines of waiting cars.
There were no toilet paper, tissue paper, and batteries at the drug stores.
There were no rice, tofu (豆腐), milk, noodles, bananas, and so on at the supermarket. Inside of the building was darker because of saving electricity.
The ATM of the post office was unavailable.

We had another earthquake around 18:50.

Friday, March 18, 2011

3月18日(sangatsu jyuhachi nichi): March 18

Our company started a campaign to raise funds for the retrieve from this Tohoku-Kanto (東北関東) Earthquake. Each department collects good will donation from the staff, and the company will send them to a certain organization such as red cross or UNICEF.

My colleagues and I went out for lunch to the restaurant where let us use the bathroom during the evacuation last Friday to say "Thank you." The owner is so generous that he offered us the room to stay if there occurred something next time at night. We were glad to hear that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

3月17日(sangatsu jyushichi nichi): March 17

It was very cold like winter again.
I went to work. Our company decided to save electricity, and we stopped using elevators, hand dryer, and took out some fluorescent lights from the ceiling.
Since we practice "planned blackout (計画停電: keikaku teiden)", there are fewer trains running than usual. Therefore there were so many people at the stations, especially on my way home. Trains were so crowded, and it took more time than usual to get back home.
We still have earthquakes.
It will be colder tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

3月16日(sangatsu juroku nichi): March 16

Today around noon we had another earthquake.

Our area was supposed to have planned blackout for 3 hours between 18:20 and 22:00. But it actually happened from 18:50 to 20:50. It was night, so it was dark. I used the candle for light, and radio for getting information.

Our company decided to operate as usual from tomorrow instead of March 22.

They say more than 340,000 people are evacuated. It is snowing there now and they need gasoline, blankets, water, foods, toilet, tissue paper, diaper, medicine, and information.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

3月15日(sangasu jyugo nichi): March 15

In the morning the planned blackout has happened in my area for 3 hours until 9:45 AM. I was lucky because our company decided for the staff to stay and work at home until March 22.
The first inconvenience without electricity I felt this morning was the coldness of the toilet seat. Japanese toilet is very advanced, and the seat is warm and we have shower and dryer function after using. Many foreingers are impressed when they use them for the first time. I hear some people even buy them for souvenir.

Tonight there was rather big earthquake in Shizuoka (静岡) area around 10:30 again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

3月14日(sangatsu jyuyokka): March 14

When I left the office on Saturday, people were walking on the street, and the convenience stores were open, so it looked like normal in a sense. So at that time, we thought we would work from Monday as usual.
But this morning I got a call from my colleague through the emergency contact lists (緊急連絡網: kinkyu renraku mo), she said we could stay at home because the transportation systems didn't work regularly.
Telephone messages tend to transform from the first person to the last person. Therefore the next information came from via email at night. We would stay and work at home by March 22.
We were informed there would have planned blackout (計画停電: keikaku teiden) for 3 hours last night by TV. In my area it did not happen. But in some areas it happend for 1 hour and a half or so in the evening.
We are not sure if it would happen tomorrow.
We are worried about the people in Tohoku (東北) area, and the nuclear power plant accidents in Fukushima (福島).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

3月13日(sangatsu jyusan nichi): March 13

When I was in the taxi yesterday, I saw many convenient stores were open. The road was not busy, but near the station there were many people walking.
When I went grocery shopping, I found no bread and cooked dishes. There were few dry batteries left there.
I got a call from my colleague, and she said we would work as usual tomorrow.
TV news said we would have planned blackout for 3 hours from tomorrow until next month.

3月12日(sangatsu jyuni nichi): March 12

While I was waiting at the shrine, I have tried to call my family. But everyone was trying to call too, and the lines were so busy and I could not talk at all. Cellphone mails were available.
While we were waiting at the office, we saw the news through Internet.
We have felt many earthquakes and scared. I tried to call home from the office, but the lines were so busy and I could not. I got some messages to the cellphone, but could not reply to save the battery, but it has gone around midnight.
Some staff went home. But I live too far from the office to walk back. I decided to stay there overnight and worked.
In the morning I decided to check my private emails and got many emails from abroad worrying about me and Japan. Thank you everyone. I am fine.
Around 7:30 in the morning I could talk with my family finally. What a relief!
Some of us decided to go home together by taxi. We left the office around 10:10 and I came back home around 2 PM finally.
It was a long day.

Friday, March 11, 2011

3月11日(sangatsu jyuichi nichi): March 11

The biggest earthquakes ever in Japanese history happened around 2:46PM. We Japanese people used to earthquakes, but this was different. It lasted for more than 5 minutes and they were so big. We hid under the desk and waited the earthquakes stopped. We wore the helmet and evacuated to the nearest shrine.
There we had waited for about one hour and a half. From outside we saw our building was moving and felt scared. After a while we decided to go back to the office to get our belongings by small groups. On our way back to the office, we saw the walls got cracks....
Some people went home. Since I live very far from the office, I stayed for a while there. Finally we decided to go home by taxi and went outside. Streets were so crowded that we could not get any taxi and decided to eat dinner first. At the restaurant we knew every train stopped. Therefore we decided to go back to the office. On our way back to the office I got the interview from TV reporter because we wore the helmet. I answered our company prepared the helmets for the staff.
Fortunately there were electricity, water, blanket, foods and so on.
The earthquakes continued but we decided to stay there overnight.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

3月10日(sangatsu toka): March 10

It was very cold today.

There was an article about the billionaires list throughout the world. The total number of billionaires whose total assets are more than $1 billion is 1210 which is the most in history. Among them 10 % were Chinese. The richest man in the world has been Mr. Carlos Slim from Mexico for two years straight. His total assets are estimated $74 billion. The second richest person is Mr. Bill Gates. The difference is $18 billion. The highest growth rate was Mr. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook CEO ranked in 52, and his total assets are $13.5 billion which is 3.4 times than last year.
There are 413 Americans which is the most, 115 Chinese, 101 Russian, and 26 Japanese.
The richest Japanese is Mr. Masayoshi Son (孫正義) of the president of SoftBank Corp.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3月9日(sangatsu kokonoka): March 9

I have just finished reading a book I was given recently by the author. It is a story about a Japanese mother and her half-Korean children. One of them was separated from her mother at the war time. Both of them tried to see each other, but could not. She was from Yokosuka where I was from too.
Japanese children left in China at war time are called chugoku zanryu koji (中国残留孤児), and very famous especially in the 1980's because many of them came to Japan to find their families.
But children left in North Korea during war time are hardly known.
It was a good book to know about Japan-Korean relationship, a woman's life, Korean way of thinking and living, and so on.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

3月8日(sangatsu yoka): March 8

March 8 is International Women's Day. I hoped to join the special event held at United Nations University in Tokyo and applied, but no invitation came.
Instead I attended other meeting. There I met friends and I could hear interesting stories. I am glad to see them.

Monday, March 7, 2011

3月7日(sangatsu nanoka): March 7

It was cold. It snowed in the morning in Tokyo, but changed to rain in the afternoon. They say it is going to be colder tomorrow.

Today's big news was the resignation of the Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara (前原誠司) to take the responsibility of accepting the donation from foreigners.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

3月6日(sangatsu muika): March 6

Today is keichitsu (啓蟄), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節季),24 solar terms. The last one was usui (雨水) on February 19 and the next one is shumbun (春分) on March 21.
Keichitsu literally means awakening of insects, it is the time to hear the sound of hibernated insects.
It was fine and warm in the morning, but became windy in the afternoon. It will be colder again this week.

3月5日(sangatsu itsuka): March 5

The new Tohoku Shinkansen car "Hayabusa" (はやぶさ) has debuted between Tokyo (東京) and Shin Aomori (新青森) for 3 hours 10 minutes, the fastest ever. It runs at 300km per hour between Morioka (盛岡) and Utsunomiya (宇都宮). It will run at 320 km per hour in the spring of 2013.
They say there are first class cars "Gran Class." Today's tickets were sold out in 10 seconds on February 5 when the tickets were started to sell.
From the early morning, there were more than 1500 train fans got together at the Tokyo station to see the first run.
I hope to ride it someday.

Friday, March 4, 2011

3月4日(sangatsu yokka): March 4

Yesterday I went to Chikuma (千曲), Nagano (長野) by Nagano Shinkansen. It's been long time since I rode on Nagano Shinkansen. Maybe since Nagano Olympic in 1998?
Nagano is famous for soba noodle. So I ate Sarashina soba (更科そば), which is rare and only limited numbers is served per day for lunch. It was white thin cold noodle and very delicious.
Other local food is oyaki (おやき), which is Japanese-style bun stuffed with adzuki-bean paste and vegetables. I bought two of them and ate after coming back.
There were some snow left, and the wind was very cold.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

3月3日(sangatsu mikka): March 3

March 3 is hinamatsuri (雛祭り), doll's festival. It is a girl's festival. It is not a holiday. The family with girls decorate dolls called hina ningyo (雛人形). The sweets for this festival are hina arare (雛あられ)and hishimochi (菱餅), the drink is shirozake (白酒).
March 3 is also day of ear, mimi no hi (耳の日) because 3.3 looks like ear and 3.3 is pronounce as mi (3) mi (3) .

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

3月2日(sangatsu futsuka): March 2

Tokyo Tower (東京タワー:333 meters high) has been the highest tower in Japan until March 29, 2010. Now the highest tower under construction became the highest tower in the world yesterday. The name of the tower is Tokyo Sky Tree (東京スカイツリー). On January 16 it reached 559 meters high and became the 2nd in the world followed by CN Tower (553 meters) in Toronto, Canada. Yesterday it became the highest in the world followed by Koshu Tower(600 meters) opened last June in China.
The final hight will be 634 meters in the end of this month, and it will be completed within this year, and open next spring. It is expected more than 3 million visitors per year would come and its potential reverberations in the Japanese economy would be nearly yen 500 million. It will be the newest sightseeing spot soon.
Why 634 meters? It is because of the old name of Tokyo area Musashi (武蔵). 6 is read as mu, 3 is read as sa, 4 is read as shi.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

3月1日(sangatsu tsuitachi): March 1

Another month has started. March is sangatsu (三月) in Japanese, the old name is yayoi (弥生). As weather forecast March is spring. But it was a still cold, rainy day.
March 1 is a day for graduation ceremony of public high schools. Congratulations!