Monday, June 13, 2011
Coastal Area In Tohoku Still Needs Lots & Lots Of Help Part 1
I went up to Fukushima and Miyagi prefecture this weekend. 4 vans and 11 people, lots of boxes with donated clothes, food, rubber boots, books, manga, toys, candy, umbrellas, ladies undergarments; no gaudy colours or "posh frocks" please, but aprons, summer trousers, hats, gloves... Mostly all new stuff, as this team from Hanno, Saitama has been up there before and knows exactly what the requests are.
Miyagi in particular has a large number of small villages with different needs along the coast. While we all know the tsunami was as big as 20 meters or more in some areas, the debris still left after three months tell the real story: the tsunami was relentless, it came in and out, again and again, sweeping houses off their foundations, boats up on land (and up on roofs of buildings), and back into the sea again, mixing with all the debris. There are cars everywhere as if thrown around by the huge hand of a giant. Some 30,000 people dead/missing.
We got an early start around 1:30AM and drove up through Fukushima and watched the sun come up, had a quick rest and pressed on. Passing Sendai City, the first signs of disaster. Then up along the coast, passing Ishinomaki (read Our Man in Abiko's tales from his visit recently, with videos) and further up into the hills of Miyagi, north of Minami Sanriku. Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful landscape, great rice fields reaching to the horizon, and all a lush green this time of the year. Farming is a major source of income, and everyone has a kitchen garden or vinyl houses.
Further up and towards the coast, suddenly the sign of disaster. So near the Pacific Ocean, the tsunami really hit the coastal areas, and people are still in a bad way, and need a lot of help.
We went to about 4 different locations, talking to local people that this team has visited several times before. This team will always call before going, to get the latest updates and requests. Just after arriving, we start unloading boxes, and if there are people who hesitate, the bags of blueberries are particularly good as ice-breakers and starting a conversation...
Kids were fantastic, so happy to get to select among hundreds of books and manga that had been donated here in Hanno. But there are also adults who are very reluctant to talk, just showing up for minutes, then leaving: a lot of people have lost everything, maybe lost their kids, relatives, and there is no work. I noticed some that did not tend to hang around for very long where there was a crowd of merry people rummaging through boxes of donated goods. Trauma? I cannot even begin to imagine what they have gone through.
I made a short video as a slideshow of photos I took over the weekend, they do at least tell a story.
There is so much more that this entire region needs, not just in this small area of Miyagi prefecture.
There are many questions in my mind too, after having done the trip at 120 km/h on the highways, then less than 20 km/h on the hilly roads, just recently cleared from rubble, near Utatsu Village and Minami Sanrikyo Port...
Do consider donating and contributing in any way you can.
Read more: Small Efforts Can Make A Huge Difference For Tohoku
Blogs I Like
- Ad B: Japan Navigator
- Adventures of a (Swedish) Salariman in Tokyo
- Amy: Blue Lotus
- Boing Boing: Wonderful Things
- Brendan: UNU OurWorld 2.0
- Hiroko & Rick: Itadakimasu
- Jared B: Tokyo Green Space
- Joan: Popcorn Homestead
- Jon: Toshogu or As I See Japan... From L.A.
- Justin B: The Rational Pessimist (Climate & Risk)
- Kat: Food Adventures in Japan
- Ken: KenElwood in semi-rural Japan
- Mari: Watashi to Tokyo
- MTC: Shisaku
- Otakimura: In The Pines
- P: Pacific Islander
- Peko Peko: Kyoto Foodie
- Richard H: Spike Japan
- Risa & Kirk: Savory Japan
- Robert: Pure Land Mountain
- Shizuoka Gourmet
- Ten Thousand Things
- Tom: Kitchen Garden in Japan
Links I Like
- News: About Sweden in English
- News: BBC
- News: Der Spiegel (Germany) in English
- News: Deutche Welle
- News: FT Asia (UK, EU)
- News: Kyoto Journal (Japan)
- News: NHK World Society & Others (Japan)
- News: People's Daily (China)
- News: Telegraph (UK)
- News: The Local (Sweden)
- News: Yomiuri Online (Japan)
- News: Yonhap (Korea)
- NGOs/News: Organic Consumers Association (US)
- NGOs: Amnesty
- NGOs: Consumers Union (US) Food
- NGOs: Consumers Union of Japan
- NGOs: Greenpeace
- NGOs: Greenz.jp
- NGOs: Japan for Sustainability
- NGOs: Japan Organic Agriculture Association
- NGOs: Japan Vegetarian Society
- Shops: Alishan Organic Center
- Shops: Eco to Waza (GreenJapan)
- Shops: Warabe Mura
- Stuff: Japan Probe