March 27, 2011

strawberry sweets and my latest picks from the news...

The latest news in Japan, as of my writing of this blog (Kyodo English) is focused on the radioactive water found inside the buildings adjacent to the nuclear reactors in Fukushima.


This is serious.  The level is much higher than it should be and it is not getting any lower. Which means something is leaking...  However, we are being asked to stay calm since this is still indoors and is not an immediate threat to those outside of the building...PLUS there are multiple reports coming out as I type about the level and how high it is or isn't... There is still so much confusion and TEPCO is not making things better with the way they provide the information.


As optimistic as I can be, this disturbs me not just because of the seriousness and chaotic information flow. The real threat is invisible. Although Japan has a history that shows us the devastating effects of radioactivity, it did not deter some of the people living in the power plant area from rushing back to their homes.

For people who had to evacuate quickly and empty handed, it has been a stressful 2 weeks. Some 50 or so residents from the evacuated areas went back to their homes to gather a few of their belongings and to feed their cattle (I can't imagine how bewildered the animals must be).
The residents have all been re-evacuated by the Japanese self defense force.


In the meantime, there have been demonstrations outside of the Tokyo Power Company calling for all the nuclear power plants in Japan to close.  This isn't being featured on the news but I have seen the tweets and a bit on the *NHK world news website.

*For the NHK (the Japan Broadcasting Company) world news website in English with the latest updates and radio on demand (click here).

Also please check out:

Marie Mutsuki Mockett has written another beautiful piece which can be read on the New Yorker blog, about her family in Japan.  You can read it here.


What am I doing between the news updates (that I try as much as possible to stay away from)?
Well, Monday through Friday was work at the office.  Since things are rather normal in our part of the country it all seems unreal when we can't deliver goods as fast as we usually can, due to the power shortages in Tokyo.  Most people are understanding.

And now for the relaxing part...
On Saturday, I had waffles...with whipped cream, custard...and yes, strawberries.
Good stuff!
As if that were not I had...
cream roll cake with strawberries

and I bought books...

Ape House by Sara Gruen and Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
The CDs were bought a month ago but I finally got them into my i-pod...
and I think I forgot to post this picture I took at my mom's house earlier this year...
Look for my fingers at the bottom of the picture for comparisons (my fingers are not gigantic)!

This is a strawberry.

March 21, 2011

Hope. Music. More hope.

herb garden 2009

There are reports that Spinach and other leafy vegetables from farms100km away from the power plants have been detected with radiation that exceeds the government regulated limits. This is rather distressing but more details should be released today. Right now some of the latest reports can be found here at the Kyodo English news site:

I am not one to panic but this does raise my (already raised) interest in nuclear science and the effects of radiation... Some interesting sites I have found so far are:

MIT students of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering have a blog with information about the nuclear plants in Fukushima, Japan.

and then there was this information that I did not know about regarding the reactors in Japan which kinda frightens me as an American as well:

...and so, like in my last post...I must think. I am not going to panic or start a demonstration (just yet) but I do hope that this will be a good chance for the human race to admit that Mother Earth is much more stronger than we predict it to be.

Amidst all this radiation "hype" there is still some good news about people being saved from the rubble.
We have reason to stay...hopeful.

news flash
oooh...just heard on the news that the electricity that was cut off has been reinstalled to some of the reactors. They will have to run some more tests to make sure that there are no other damaged parts before they actually start sending electricity.



One thing is for sure: we have some mighty heroic people (who did not build the reactors...); firefighters.
I have a renewed respect for these people who put their lives on the line to spray water on the Nuclear Power Plants in an effort to cool down the reactors. Their news conference was 100 times better than the TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) conferences because they were speaking in terms that are understandable and they didn't make any excuses or vague comments. They were prepared...not only for the news conference but for the actual event that they might have to help... which it seems, they did!
The spraying of water has resumed again today:



Some people trying to spread hope...

Monkey Majik members are out volunteering: Tokyo Hive

Daniel Kahl, originally from California, is a "talent" here in Japan famous for his fluency in the Yamagata Prefecture dialect.
His website has a full page of links with all sorts of valuable information.

He has also posted this video on youtube as an appeal to media outside of Japan. This is the first time I have heard him speak in English since he is always using his fluent Japanese (Yamagata dialect) on TV!

I have been staying away from TV much of this time for various reasons...I use to work in radio so that might be one reason.

I find solace in, just sound.

In music.


Starship's We Built This City On Rock N' Roll was on the radio yesterday, and I couldn't believe how uplifting it was. So to bring things back to a bit of normality on this blog, here is an update on what's new in the music scene here:

Wonder Woman by Amuro Namie featuring Ai and Anna Tsuchiya. All three girls are of "mixed culture"!
The video is flipped (everything is a mirror image) I don't know how that is technically possible, but this might mean that the video will be pulled off youtube sooner or later.

Ai is also featured in a new song by the Bawdies, a group that sounds like...somebody...but I can't quite place my finger on who...
You can hear a snippet of the song at i-tunes here but there is nothing on youtube etc. as it was just released.

Here is a song by The Bawdies that I did find on youtube:

That's it!!! Tom Waits on too much caffeine!?! Maybe...

Another multi-cultured artist:

Maia Hirasawa is a Japanese/Swedish artist. Her official website is here:

Another song on the charts here is by Rake. There is a short snippet of a video on the first page of his website:


Also, if you are in the New York area, just FYI...

Sakamoto Ryuichi has a concert scheduled in NYC for April 9th.
Japan Society, New York - CONCERT FOR JAPAN


A piece (you many have already seen) about hope by author Ryu Murakami in the Op-page of
The New York Times.

And for me one of the most hopeful sounds in the universe.
Music to my ears!

March 19, 2011

One reason why I think social medias are cool and one reason why I think they sometimes are not…


Here in Japan we have started a three day weekend.  Monday is the spring equinox.  

I like my job but I am very happy that I do not have to go to the office on Monday. I am sure my friends up north are feeling the same way, but more intensely because of the power cuts and aftershocks they are still experiencing. 

Me? I’m just laaaaazyyy.
AND I got a few bottles of strawberry liquor to taste.
strawberry sake, strawberry liquor, strawberry wine all made from strawberries from the Kyushu island

Yes, I know, strawberries AGAIN.

(FYI, there are strawberry blogs out there!
and this blog I found thanks to the Tattered Cover:
had the greatest recipes for strawberries and other “stuff” too.)

So this is why I think blogs are cool….you find great people to “talk” with, great things to read, information you are looking for and with things like facebook, sometimes you even find long lost relatives!

Blogs, Facebook and twitter (and in Japan, Mixi) have become a place for many people here to connect with friends and family... especially during these devastating times.
The internet has helped to bring people together.  We have been able to change lives, be changed and learn about things we would otherwise be oblivious about.

I think this has given journalists a hard time these days… It’s harder for them because, unlike before, we might actually “know” someone from the area they are reporting from.

Now…we can see…right through them…sometimes. 

For example,
20 or 30 years ago, if you saw on the news that hundreds of Tokyoites were wearing masks because they were afraid of radiation, you might have believed them.  Gee, I might have believed them too!

Now, thanks to tons of great blogs (see my blog roll on the left) and well in this case…


we know a bit more about Japan(or at least we can find out if some things are leaning towards suspicious). 

Therefore, you would know that Tokyoites are wearing their masks, like many other people around Japan this time of year, because they have HAY FEVER. (Here is a post from a Japanese blogger in Tokyo about hay fever in Japan:

As I do not want to reinvent the wheel, here is a wiki that someone has made to collect some of the most blatant mistakes in the news covering the Quake and Tsunami in Japan.

Apart from this I would also like to add that although there are many people at the airport trying to flee Japan, please keep in mind that it is SPRING VACATION and since schools are out till April, lots of people have been scheduling holidays overseas ANYWAY.  So that is probably why many people are having a hard time getting tickets out of here too… (
A friend of mine is going back to the UK this weekend to see his family…he had this planned BEFORE the earthquake…

Although I respect peoples' decisions to leave Japan right now (especially if you are not fluent in the language, have small children or if you are ill etc.) there are some people who are choosing to stay:
(Thank you K for the link!)

Like any type of information we get, I think it is important to learn how to process the information.  I mean, really think about what you are reading or hearing… I mean REALLY.  Just stop to think…sometimes…it helps. 

I know, I am preaching to the choir now……but now for the one reason why I don’t like the internet:
(eeek! I am about to tread on very thin ice…)
I found wacky comments about how Japan is not a religious country thus this tragedy was brought upon them (?!).  There are tons of stuff out there that wouldn’t have been “published” for everyone to see, hear or read if it weren’t so darn easy to use the internet…

I know I know I know I know I know I know ...
We are entitled to our own opinions and beliefs and in some parts of the world we actually have freedom of “speech”.

I just hope empathy will prevail. And you know what? 

I think it will. 

Look what I found...

March 15, 2011

I'm here now and my use of a mouse...

I don't have a proper mouse with me and even if I did, I doubt I could do this map justice...but just to give you an idea of how far away I am from the devastation etc.
The blue circle is where I am now...sort of...
The yellow circle shows where I usually am...and the red circle inaccurately shows where the earthquakes, largest tsunamis and the fragile nuclear reactors are.

I was in the yellow circle when the earthquake hit - a tremor with the intensity of 3 on the seismic scale.  We were that far away from the red circle area (that had a magnitude of 9.0) and to think we still felt it is mind boggling.

Now (as I type this) I am seeing on the news that Shizuoka (the prefecture in the middle of the red and yellow circles) just had a tremor with the intensity of 6 on the seismic scale.  At least no fear of a tsunami...
It is not certain if all of these quakes are related...

I am trying to count my blessings and focus on my duties as a daughter, wife and consultant.  I haven't been meditating again so I think it is time for me to sit down straighten my back, lift my head and take a deep breath....or two...or three.

Peach Blossom that my mom has in a vase...

I pray that wherever you are, that you are safe.  Let's not forget to smile and let's continue to hope for the best. 

For English updates on Japan the Kyodo news service is pretty reliable:


New Zealand is still trying to recover from an earthquake and there is Haiti  that still needs help...Indonesia, Iran, China...Papua New Guinea...this is all just so hard to wrap my head around.

I am thinking the Red Cross or/and Doctors Without Borders.

March 11, 2011

I'm OK

One of the largest earthquakes in recent Japanese history has shaken the country in the north eastern regions.  I live in the center of Japan and am currently staying at my mom's place in the south western part of Japan.

I have heard from a few of my colleagues in Tokyo but not the whole team so I am still worried.  However, I just thought I would post to let my friends and family know that I am ok.

Tsunami warnings have been issued in almost all parts of the archipelago and other parts of Asia.

Will try to post something again later as soon as I find out more about what should be posted here...

all the best,

March 1, 2011


Gosh...I don't know where to start...

I got this receipt from a taxi I took on the first of February that says it is the year 2023...!

My husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary a few weeks ago.

Time flies...
(do you see the blimp?)

At the end of March I will have been at work on my new job for a year and a half...and that feels like 10 years on some days and 10 months on others...go figure...

This July I will have been in Japan for 26 years. In April I will turn 40.

I deserve to have gold in my tea!
Now, if that doesn't make you want to come visit Japan, I don't know what will!

Tonight my husband is out watching the Eagles in concert and I just went to see a "chick flick".
Which after I watched (as much as I love chick flicks) THIS ONE became much more than that to me.

Morning Glory not only had some of my most favorite actors (Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Jeff Goldblum), it reminded me a tiny bit of..

Change TV to radio and make the leading lady (Rachel Adams) shorter (and give her a uni-brow and overbite) and you have an enthusiastic me in my twenties trying to make a morning radio show with cooking tips and global news and music. We had our adventures on the show and there was never a dull moment be it a good one or bad.

By the way Harrison Ford was amazing...I really wanted to punch the guy...heehee.

SO, 3 things are running through my head right now.

1. Why didn't I write a romantic comedy that would become a Hollywood movie?
2. What story can I write now?
3. WHAT ON EARTH am I doing with my life?

gosh that is pathetic... scratch 3 and replace it with:

Am I having a pre-midlife crisis or is this a full blown midlife crisis?

NOT that I want to work at a (Japanese) TV station...
TV here is .... weird...

(Yes, that is a picture of a TV show with adults wearing costumes as they are talking about food...)
And there already is an American who is dominating TV here and packaging it off to the States (or so I think) so "my idea" of bridging the two countries with entertainment is already taken (Dave Spector is "the guy" by the way. He is more knowledgable about Japan than most Japanese are, and there are rumors that he is actually Japanese but has just dyed his hair. He is actually from Illinois. Oooh, I have just found his twitter account... (in Japanese though)!/dave_spector.

Wow, totally went in a different direction there...
I just think I MAY have lost my way a bit. Am I loosing control of my life as I get swarmed with "stuff" to do on weekends and late at night ?

That can't be the real problem because I used to do that when I worked in radio and it did not bug me ONE bit.

Not even a tiny little bit.

Now it does. But what bugs me even more is that it bugs me. I hate not feeling GREAT about WORKING 24-7.

I am very good at tuning in with the "universe" and having things brought to me. But for the last two years I have stopped asking. Just did not have time to ask or even ponder what it is I want.

I have friends who have helped me soooo much to get back on track but SOMETHING just isn't "clicking".

I feel like this cat, waiting in front of a store that sells lots of porcelain cats...

waiting...for something...waiting...

Waiting and "going with the flow" has really done me good these past 40 years but me thinks me is ready for a change.
It's time to start walkin' down that Yellow Brick Road!

Exploring more of this fascinating country and bringing it to life inside me so that I can weave the next chick flick or whatever it is that will make me: h a p p y.

I hope you are happy. If you think you are not then join me on my journey!

A smile will take you a mile!


I think the receipt the taxi driver gave me with the year 2023 comes from the traditional Japanese calendar.

It is currently the 23rd year of the Heisei era. Thus 23.

But it still is a mistake...

...or is it?