Friday, April 8, 2011
Under the Cherry Tree
Japanese people love and cherish the cherry blossom. Aren't they pretty?
There was another M 7.1 earthquake late last night that shook the Tohoku area. The whole Tohoku area lost power again, which was one of the only utilities that they had. Gas and water are still only available in certain areas. By late this afternoon, most of the thermal power plants that had shut down had started operating and electricity came back to most areas that had it before last night. But there are still many areas that don't even have electricity since March 11th.
What I worry about most is those people who were not able to stay in the evacuation shelters. I have a co-worker who has relatives in Ishinomaki, which is one of the tsunami-hit cities in Miyagi Prefecture, and he just got in contact with them by phone last weekend. While many of the houses had been washed away, his relatives house still stood, although the flooding reached the second story of the house. They all evacuated to a shelter but because there were so many people there, the families with houses still standing were asked to return to their homes. Not only are these houses a wreck with such things like broken windows and furniture from the earthquake but because of the tsunami, everything from dead pets to fish to seaweed from the sea are scattered about inside the house. The relatives have been living there for over a week now, with only electricity, which means no cooking or bathing as that uses gas, something they still don't have.
When my co-worker wanted to send them money, they told him they didn't need it because the banks were closed and even if they could take the money out, there are no stores open to use it. They asked for a change of clothes and undergarments, because all of their things had been washed away with the tsunami and they were still not able to take a bath, and ready-to-cook rice, so they could make rice balls to eat to get by.
My co-worker said that he's never felt more helpless than during that phone call with his relatives. And hearing his story, it made me realize that there are many many people in need who are still very far from receiving it. The news has reports about evacuation shelters in Tohoku receiving aid lately...but even though the food and clothes go to people in these shelters, there are still many who are in their individual homes who continue to wait their turn to receive help.
...I didn't mean to write so much about this, I keep having to remember this is a photo blog about Shinjuku. But right now, what is happening in the Tohoku area is very much part of our lives here, too. So I hope you'll let me share some of it with you.
On a brighter note, I was taking a walking around Shinjuku the other day and looked up to find a young cherry tree in full bloom! At first I thought they were apple blossoms but the proprietor assures me they are cherry blossoms. Whatever they are, they are gorgeous! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
Enjoy looking at more beautiful skies all around the world here.