Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Well I am in New Zealand now, and having a very nice time. I am in Westport of all places. If you look on a map you will see it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, on the West coast of the South Island. It is very rural here but beautiful and the weather is perfect for me. Not too hot, not too cold and sunny.
My sister has just finished building a really nice house in the bush away from town that is so peaceful and beautiful, it makes me want to cry sometimes. It certainly is a long long way from Japan and the aftershocks.
Every day I take our black labrador Sam for a stroll down the road and back. He is getting old and I am having trouble walking long distances now, so both of us enjoy the slow paced waddle. My mum arrives tomorrow night and can stay until I leave, so it will be really nice to have this time with my sister, me and my mum together for the first time in a year. My sister has also been enjoying feeling Maru chan's kicks. The flight here was long but made more comfortable by the kind staff on Air NZ, who made sure I had 3 seats to lie down across, a huge bottle of water to keep myself hydrated so I wouldn't have to wait until they came around offering it. Even so I felt that the 3 hour train ride, the flight, the stopover, the second flight and then finally the 3 hour drive to get here, was too much for Maru chan and a lot harder on me than usual. But we recovered well and the next day I felt fine and Maru chan seemed to be kicking and behaving as usual. The trip home, will be a lot less strenuous as it will be broken up over several days.
I talked to DH this morning on Skype. He looked fine, says that he goes and collects water on his way home every night and heats it up to wash with. Petrol is still scarce and food probably a bit too, but his company has a convenience store where he can buy lunch and at home he eats ready made meals so as not to create dishes that need to be washed. Our water might be restored earlier than the end of April which is great but still probably 2 weeks away.
DH's sister sent me a message to say that Sebastian is fine and eating well and sleeps with Grandpa N in the room we were sleeping in at night (a much better arrangement for him than when he was in Iwaki!), so I am not so worried about him anymore. Though I do miss his craziness and exhuberance, I catch myself worrying what our dog here in NZ,Sam, is doing - that he might be chewing something or peeing somewhere, which of course he isn't because he is a perfectly behaved dog.
The Japan earthquake news has died down a lot here, so I have trouble keeping up with what is going on. The stories are also a lot of humanitarian ones that make me so sad, I can't watch them.
Saturday, 26 March 2011
Now we are passing the time at McDs until its time for me to catch the train.
Fingers crossed the rest of my trip goes more smoothly!
Friday, 25 March 2011
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Monday, 21 March 2011
Sunday, 20 March 2011
Saturday, 19 March 2011
Friday, 18 March 2011
Part 3 coming soon.
Thursday, 17 March 2011
We started running around getting important documents together in one place, passports that kind of thing. DH cleaned out the bath and put some water in it. I did the dishes and turned on the dishwasher of all things. Then we sat in front of the TV and tried to get the internet to work.
All the while our house shook every 10 -20 minutes from the aftershocks.
Part 2 tomorrow.
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Not long after we got here, we had the good news that our friend, Hiroshi san, who was in Ishinomaki, which almost doesn't exist anymore, is safe along with his family, though their house was washed away.
Sebastian has endeared himself to his Tottori family and they didn't mind that he has peed on one of their zabutons (cushion for sitting on the floor) already. They are playing with him now while I write this to you. He might not want to ever leave!
Last night I only slept about 4-5 hours, so tonight I feel I will be doing my own impression of a log very soon though its only 8pm.
On the way here I took note of the atmosphere at each place we stopped at. The further away from Fukushima we got, the more normal everything and everyone seemed. The more heated toilet seats I found
in rest areas still switched on, even though the whole country is supposed to be saving power. So I did my bit and turned off several each time I got a chance.
Thank you for the messages of support and for your prayers. We are safe now. Please say some for all my friends who are still in Fukushima and want to leave but can't because there is not a drop of gasoline to be found.
Love hotels are set up so you can come and go with whoever you like and noone will see you. We walked in the entrance looked at pics of the different rooms and pushed the button for the one we wanted. The elevator door then magically opens and lets you out at the right floor where a light flashes above your room. You walk in and when you close the door you cant go out again until you leave. When you leave you pay at a kind of machine inside your room door. I am explaining this so you can understand how we smuggled Basti into the room easily. The walls are also sound proof for obvious reasons, so nobody heard Basti bark a couple of times. He slept in his crate anyway so it was fine though Im sure Not Allowed.
Anyway yesterday I got a phone call from Yu Narasaki, for those who know her who was in Miyagi where the quake was worst saying that she was fine but they have no power so she had gone to Yamagata. Her school is in the mountains which is a good thing but it is a boarding school so she has students to take care of as well as herself.She asked me specifically to spread the word to people who know her.
Last night we stopped on the the highway to have dinner, our first real post quake meal. I felt sick trying to eat it. A small kind of survivors guilt I supose. I guess I am still kind of in shock about it all.
Now we are not far from Kyoto and hope to reach DHs family tonight.
Monday, 14 March 2011
We packed up our car with camping type stuff, food water and of course Basti and headed out of town.
That was not as easy as expected as we kept running into traffic jams around gasoline stands and supermarkets. I was seriously doubting our decision at that point. I stopped at my Ikebana teachers house before we left and she was so frightened for me we both cried.
Luckily the damage to the roads had been clearly marked with cones.We drove past DHs work and saw the smashed windows. I wonder if he really will go back to work next week.
Once we got out of town and on the road to Koriyama there was little traffic and little damage to the road. We made it to Koriyama easily but got caught up in traffic jams of people trying to buy gas. Thats where we were when we heard of the second explosion.
But we seemed to be the only ones evacuating.
We ran into some reporters from cbs so we obliged them with an interview since we were stuck in traffic anyway.
Once out of that city we passed through some beautiful countryside and so we felt a little more relaxed. The further to the west we went the more normal things got. We could use flushing toilets and topped up the car easily.
Right now we are on the Hokuriku highway on the west coast side of Japan heading south towards tottori. Thank you for all your prayers. We feel safe now.
Sunday, 13 March 2011
There is no gasoline left at any petrol stations in the city as the highways remain closed to traffic which includes the trucks and tankers that bring those things to us. DH and I have nowhere to go to so we are not concerned about lack of gasoline for now.
However a lot of households rely on kerosene to run heaters to keep warmat night. That has also sold out.
My house is completely reliant on electricity so it is so important to me personally to have power.
Shops also seem to be empty of everything except alcohol and ice cream.
We are observing the stay inside recommendation from the authorities. However quite a few people are out walking their dogs etc. It is a beautiful day but we cant go out and enjoy it.
In Hisanohama a small fishing village not so far from here they are reporting 53 people dead. I am very worried for the people I know who live there.
1187 people from Fukushima prefecture alone are missing and over 200 are dead. I write this depressing news for those of you who will be wanting info on Iwaki and Fukushima.
Some comments may have appeared on my blog. We still dont have internet so a friend is managing this for me. Thank you so much P. I am eternally grateful for your support!
So the latest info we have from officials is that the situation is stable and no extra evacuation is necessary at present. DH thinks that we need to wait and see.
And in other news Basti is back to his usual self after being very quiet and nervous yesterday. He has cabin fever since we are not going outside, just in case.
Maru chan is kicking as usual, sometimes I dont know if its an after shock or the baby.
The Nz media is very interested in me and apparently my face was on the front pg of the www.stuff.co.nz website.
Tv one news has done an interview over the phone which is supposed to be on tv tonight for those in nz.
The after shocks have died down a lot but still the odd big one.
We are without internet again, so I am posting from my phone at 5am as I have been up talking to people in NZ who are understandably worried about the nuclear power station 50 kms from here.
At this point we have been instructed to stay indoors. For us this seems like the best plan as the other is to sit in our car and not be able to get anywhere because all the major highways are closed still.
The people who are being evacuated are still 40 kms away from where we live and I think I saw they are evacuating them here to Iwaki.
I have had info from Nz that media are reporting various things like this will/could be the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Of course the Japanese media are restraining themselves but we are getting info direct from the people who are in charge of the situation, so for now I feel ok about the situation.
Last night due to lack of sleep and having run out of adrenalin I cried for the first time watching the Tv footage of the tsunami which I am sure you are familiar with now too. For a few minutes I seriously wished to be far away from here. But I know and only need to look at the Tv to be reminded that we have so much and are comfortable if a bit smellier than 2 days ago.
Friday, 11 March 2011
DH had gone to file our taxes and had forgotten some documents so I drove into town to drop them off.
I was just leaving the car park to go home when my car started shaking and rocking from side to side. I stopped and put the car in park. At one point I thought it would tip over. All around me people were screaming and racing out of buildings.
When the shaking finally stopped I drove to where DH was. Then we drove home in convoy. The car was shaking pretty much the whole way home. Luckily the road was ok and when we got home poor Sebastian seemed fine.
Our house is fine and we have water and power but the phone and internet are down. I am sending this from my cell phone.
Luckily we live on a hill safe from tsunamis.
The after shocks keep coming. Its going to be a very long night.
Stay safe everyone.
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
It roughly translates to: Those who are not yet high school students are forbidden from using this mirror to put on make up.
At first I thought I might be the only one who found this funny so I took a picture and showed DH who thought it was hilarious. Why on earth would they bother to put this kind of sign up in the ladies toilets....
Then I realised what might have happend. A bunch elementary or junior high girls probably went in there and put on makeup. One of them went home where her mother had a fit and wanted to know where they put it on and was told by daughter it was The Library, so mother immediately complains to the library that they are providing a place for illegal underage make up activities, so Library responds by putting up this sign.
I'd like to hear your ideas of why this sign was there, if you have any different ones : )
Monday, 7 March 2011
One of my readers outside Japan has asked me, what an Entrance Ceremony is. So I thought this deserved a whole post to itself. I have only personally experienced Junior High School Entrance Ceremonies, so anyone with expertise on Kindy or Primary School ones that might be different, please comment.
Coming from NZ where we don't have entrance ceremonies for anything that I can think of, at first I found it a rather odd idea. But actually I kind of like it now, in that it makes a scary event like starting a new school or your first job, a lot less scary and for someone like me, who hates not knowing what's going on, or what comes next, if I was starting a new school it would make the first day a lot more enjoyable.
So on the day of the Entrance Ceremony, students arrive at school with a parent or parents and even some grandparents, who are decked out for the occasion in a suit or nice dress or even a kimono if they feel so inclined. There is a special reception area set up, where older students take the new student's name and tell them which class they will be in. Students then go to the class and meet their classmates and their homeroom teacher. The parents go to the gym which has been decorated for the occasion. I'm not sure what goes on in the class but then the homeroom teacher brings their students to the gym where the students take their seats. Then there is synchronised standing, bowing and then the national anthem, various speeches welcoming students to the school by the principal etc. Then there is a role call. Students say "Yes!" and stand up when they hear their name. Usually there is some form of entertainment as a welcome. Our choir performed a rousing rendition of "Oh Happy Day" one time, I remember. Then the students are taken back to their classroom and they get all kinds of information and whatnot. Then it's time for the parents to be accostered to join the PTA. This can be quite a long drawn out affair. Nobody wants to join, let alone be made to be one of the big roles. Once the parents just would/could not decide so the teacher incharge made them all do rock paper scissors....
Don't get me started on the PTA.
Anyway, then the parents and students all go home. Not sure what they do, but there may be some kind of party at home to celebrate their entrance to school.
These ceremonies happen around the start of April. Everything new starts on or after the 1st of April in Japan. If you are lucky, you might live in an area that has cheery blossoms blooming at the time of the entrance ceremony so that there can be a family picture taken in front of the cherry trees. Unfortunately the cherry trees bloom a little too late here for entrance ceremonies.
If you google these characters 入学式 and select photos, you will be able to get an idea of what it all looks like.
Sunday, 6 March 2011
I found this little cartoon in a free paper that was delievered to our house this morning. I am adding it to my list of things that make me want to scream - along with those horrible pajamas.
This pretty much sums up the pressure on mothers to be slim and trim. If you are fat, your children will be unhappy because they will be teased at school. So it's all your fault and you should loose weight so they can be happy and not ashamed of their mother at the age of 4 or 5 years old, which is how old kids start Kindergarten here.....Oh yeah and to achieve this weight loss you should go to this particular shop that specialises in pressure points in your ears, and you will magically loose weight. Many women want to have nice figures (back), especially after having children but I feel that the motivation here is somewhat different from wanting to be healthy, active and be able to keep up with your kids/chase after them. While I totally agree that we should all try to be healthy and look our best, I find this little cartoon extremely annoying. The mother is dressed up for the Kindergarten Entrance Ceremony. The little boy is easy to spot as a kindergarten student or first grader. Entrance Ceremonies are held in April. Not long to go it you wanna drop more than 10 kilos like the cartoon mother did and therefore "fit in" - the most important thing of all.
I figure I will have my work cut out for me when Maru chan gets to school. Not only battling to not look like a complete whale in Japan and being a foreigner. We just won't be able to win, although I'm sure all mothers here, Japanese or not, secretly feel like they don't fit in.
Friday, 4 March 2011
So I came home and pretty much spent the afternoon snoozing on the couch. I thought maybe "Maru chan" - (baby's nickname) is going through a growth spurt as I hadn't been feeling as many kicks as usual. Then last night I noticed my fleece jacket that I wear around the house was noticeably tighter. So I showed DH when he got home. He has been working harder than usual this week so hasn't had much belly examining time. He declared that yes, it was certainly bigger than last time he checked which was the weekend. Then he proceeded to tell me about his co-worker who is going on maternity leave this week at about 35 or 6 weeks who looks like she has had too much lunch. *sigh* I look like I am carrying a full term Japanese baby and today is only week 26. I'm sure I am a perfectly normal size outside of Japan. But unfortunately, I live in Japan and have to go to maternity classes here with my fellow small bellied pregnant women.
Another thing I would like to complain about, so bare with me, is Japanese Maternity Pajamas.
Every time I go to my Obstertrician, there are a couple of women there who have be brought down from upstairs where you have the baby to be checked by the dr. They are all wearing the special maternity pajamas. It's kind of like a uniform for pregnant women when they are in hospital.
They look like this
I don't know what it is about these pajamas but just looking at them makes me want to scream. It will be summer when it's my turn to be the one in the hospital giving birth. I plan on wearing as little as possible whilst maintaining as much dignity as possible which is almost impossible really, given the circumstances. So far I have sussed out a pair of summer pajamas that I already have that are bright green with raspberries all over them. I won't look as stunning as the model wearing them I know.
Thursday, 3 March 2011
Lots of pink things everywhere. My Ikebana teacher had set up her 7 level doll set again this year. So I took a photo again and will post it here again. It looks like a terrible lot of effort to set up and pack away. The frame is really heavy, my teacher's husband has to help carry it in.
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Today I finally heard their experiences of trying to get home after the quake, having to ditch cars, walk through a forest in high-heels because roads were impassable and bridges damaged. My aunt's work at a hotel will disappear when they demolish it because the building is now unsafe. My cousin's children can't go to school because of the potential for landslides. Oh and they still don't have power or water on in their houses, one week after the quake hit. But they consider themselves lucky. They are alive and uninjured and have a roof over their heads and somewhere comfortable to sleep.
I feel very humbled.