It’s been an interesting couple of days after our experience in a life-size cocktail shaker.  But please no worries on our behalf! We are well! Jose has been working, and I have been sorting myself and cleaning. I was avoiding going out because train schedules are still a little off, but today I met with a student and ventured out to Yokohama Station.

The hustle and bustle of everyday life has been subdued somewhat – grocery store shelves are a little bare and lights are half-off in department stores.  Train stations are bigger and more spacious and there is more space to move about, but the lack of shoulder-to-shoulder crowd makes Yokohama seem empty.

I have been watching all the social media outlets and messages for Americans and various media outlets, but only in small doses.  Facebook is a constant stream of updates about power outages and friends wondering about evacuations. News is recycled pictures of the power plant and reporters that know little to nothing about nuclear engineering yapping away. I don’t need to keep imagining further disaster to Japan, so I advise not saturating your brain with too much news. A little goes a long way.

It’s so interesting to see how fast panic can spread and how quickly science is overcome by fear.  I went to the grocery store to pick up a few non-perishables for us to snack upon in the case our power went out, and when I saw people buying up cases and cases of water, I felt the need to take my six cans of soup and add about 90 more.  I almost bought a case of bottled water (which you know I hate) as if the world were ending and canned soup and bottled water were necessary to prolong my life.  But in reality, crisis mode here in Yokohama is quite orderly.  There is no shortage of food and water.  They have rolling blackouts, where neighborhoods take turns at giving up power for a few hours at a time to save energy.  Small shops have remained closed, large shops have shortened hours, and the train schedule has been abbreviated to converse electricity.  We are over 150 miles away from Fukushima Dai-Ichi, and I’ve been told I won’t turn into Blinky the fish if I breathe the Japanese spring air. Everybody is nervous, but nobody has run screaming through the streets.  Nuclear scare and all, Japan is collected and people are calm.

There is too much news and horrifying pictures and fear flying about, but at a time like this I prefer to go shopping.  Because we can all imagine what it is we’d want most if our homes were swept away, and it wouldn’t be diamonds or pearls or big screen television, but we’d sure love to have a warm blanket and the help and prayers from people from all around the world.

If you’d like to help, I welcome it!  I have some funds to get supplies, but every little bit helps!  Most of all, thanks for your prayers and well-wishes for our family – we are gratefully safe, and know that no matter where you are, our prayers are with you.  Thank you for thinking of us.

Update (April 5, 2011) – I am no longer accepting donations, but thank you for your generosity!  We collected almost a $1000 for the relief effort.  You can read about where the money went here.  If you’d still like to contribute to victims in Japan, please consider giving to the Japanese Red Cross here.



  • Mark Pendergrast

    Hi —  I just published Japan’s Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World as a short ebook and hope you will take a look at it.   A paperback will be available soon.  For info, see I could email you a review copy.  Here’s an overview:

    Japan’s Tipping Point is a small book on a huge topic.  In the post-Fukushima era, Japan is the “canary in the coal mine” for the rest of the world.  Can Japan radically shift its energy policy, become greener, more self-sufficient, and avoid catastrophic impacts on the climate?  Mark Pendergrast arrived in Japan exactly two months after the Fukushima meltdown.  This book is his eye-opening account of his trip and his alarming conclusions.

    Japan is at a crucial tipping point.  A developed country that must import all of its fossil fuel, it can no longer rely on nuclear power, following the massive earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011.  Critically acclaimed nonfiction writer Mark Pendergrast went to Japan to investigate Japan’s renewable energy, Eco-Model Cities, food policy, recycling, and energy conservation, expecting to find innovative, cutting edge programs.

    He discovered that he had been naive.  The Japanese boast of their eco-services for eco-products in eco-cities.  Yet they rely primarily on imported fossil fuel and nuclear power, live in energy-wasteful homes, and import 60% of their food.  That may be changing in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  Maybe.  But as Pendergrast documents, Japan lags far behind Europe, the United States, and even (in some respects) China in terms of renewable energy efforts. And Japan is mired in bureaucracy, political in-fighting, indecision, puffery, public apathy, and cultural attitudes that make rapid change difficult.

    Yet Japan is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with friendly, resilient people who can, when motivated, pull together to accomplish incredible things.

    As an island nation, Japan offers a microcosmic look at the problems facing the rest of the globe.  And as Japan tips, so may the world.

    Mark Pendergrast, the author of books such as For God, Country and Coca-Cola, Uncommon Grounds, and Inside the Outbreaks, entertains as he enlightens.  As he wrote in Japan’s Tipping Point:  “The rest of this account might seem a strange combination of critical analysis, travelogue, absurdist non-fiction, and call to action.  It might be called ‘Mark’s Adventures in Japanland:  Or, Apocalyptic Visions in a Noodle Shop.'”

  • Vachamberlin

    I just read this today…but am happy to report that st mat’s had a successful fund drive, raising over 4k to help the people in japan.


    • Jennie

      wow, that’s great! I’m so glad!!!!