Archive for April 17th, 2011

This week, the cherry blossoms in the Kanto region were spectacular. Last Sunday night, some friends and I gathered on the porch of the Kannon-do temple at Ueno Park with the pink petals outdoing the vermilion of the facade. Nice. Many people are exercising 自粛jishuku, which means self-restraint. The park was mostly dark, and there weren’t nearly so many parties of people as in past years. The atmosphere was subdued. While it is understandable that people practice jishuku, it is greatly damaging t othe economy because people aren’t spending money. BBC documented the result of jishuku on a brewery in Tohoku.

On Monday, we marked one month since the earthquake and tsunami with a minute of silent prayer and reflection at 14:46, the time when the earthquake struck. My coworkers were silent even after the PA announcement finished, and I wondered what to say to get us back into the routine of work. So I asked them to honour the dead by living to their utmost, and we got back to business. On Monday morning and early evening, we experienced two aftershocks, both over 6 magnitude.

Today, TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says it will take 6-9 months to get the nuclear power plant situation under control.

What does this mean for our training?

The numbers are beginning to pick up at Hombu, and I greeted many visiting members. For a while there, it was very quiet at dojos. For us locals, we are seeing our offices and companies understaffed because foreign employees left and didn’t return. The trains are run without lights and shops are turning off their exterior signs, which is a relief, really, as they are blindingly bright. Some goods run out in the shops, but if you come back, you’ll find those things restocked – yoghurt and beer and a few other things are in short supply at times. Most of all, the change in consumption and the lack of panic at large shakes are the most noticable differences now. After the 3.11 quake and its aftershocks, people don’t get excited. Once the shake stops, it’s back to business, as long as there is no tsunami warning associated with the earthquake.

My sempai on Saturday at Hombu said in Japanese something that took me aback, hearing such a sentiment from a Japanese person for the first time. She said,, “It’s like it is not the same Japan.” Nope, it sure ain’t. My hope is we can make a new Japan.

On Saturday night at the pub, we raised a glass to a Japan Self Defense Force member at our table, and two Tokyo firemen dropped in and poured drinks for us. They were so grateful for the presence of the world community in response to the disaster, and they were so glad to see our foreign faces at the table. I thanked them for their hard work and wished them well.

Mainichi Shimbun on Friday ran this article in its Perspective column, thanking the world community for help in Japan’s time of need.

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