I have spent quite a bit of time over the last three weeks reassuring friends and family and readers of ten minutes hate that all was well in Japan, so much so that it now seems slightly perverse to be taking the alternative tack.
However, while things are safe and returning to a semblance of normality here in Kanto, the region of Japan that includes Tokyo and Chiba, it is a very different matter in the north of the country. Voices from the ground is the excellent blog of the Peace Boat charity relief effort in Tohoku, the area most affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Their photographers Dee and Trace have written of a recent visit to the region:
In the midst of a landscape now defined by trucks wrapped around traffic lights, fishing boats spectacularly moored into main street buildings, cars elegantly dangling upside down in trees or unceremoniously stuffed in houses, we find ourselves so small and shockingly helpless. There is utter despair combined with the scent of lingering death, bodies not yet found. The local cemetery so defiled, ancestors now shack-up with delivery vans, roofs and dingys.
The toxic fumes waft our way from the port and industrial area. It was here on the bridges connecting Ishinomaki with the once picturesque Nakaze island, by the now tranquil flowing Kitakami River, that we understood. All we can do is make a difference on a human level. Try and help, assist, listen to one person. Touch one. If we could all affect this, volunteer even for a day, reach out to just one person then collectively tides of survival give way to those of recovery and life beyond
In the north of Japan people cannot begin to speak of recovery and rebuilding as they are still trying to survive. Many people are living in shelters, or in the ruins of buildings, in weather which is far colder than the balmy spring temperatures that are bringing the cherry blossoms to Tokyo. They need our help urgently.
Quakebook is one way for you to help, with all proceeds from the sale of the book going to the Japanese Red Cross. Second Harvest Japan are committed to sending food and other supplies as part of a long-term relief programme. The Peace Boat group is also accepting donations. As one of my students remarked this week, ‘I hope that Japan will recover soon’.
I am sure that Japan will, but please, do all that you can to help!
Photo from Voices from the ground, 37 frames here