Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two weeks after the earthquake

Yesterday my children's school finished. They are going to have a spring vacation for 11 days.

By the way, my children brought a letter from school a few days ago.
It's title was "school policy on the nuclear power plant's accident".
The contents of the letter was how and when the school releases children when indoor evacuation in this area should be published by the government.
At this moment people in the area of 20km from the reactors were already evacuated and indoor evacuation has been adopted inside of 30km area after the first explosion of the reactor just after the earthquake.
It is over 200km away here and I haven't taken the situation so seriously so far so I had a little shock to read the letter.
Thank God, time passed without happening such a case and my children are now at home to wait until school starts again in April when they become older grade.

Since the earthquake many sports event were cancelled which affected my son's daily life, too. My son is in a dodge ball team and he practices in the evenings 3 or 4 days every weak at school gym. First, after the earthquake the gym was not available to use for dodge ball practice and games on weekends were cancelled. Because of electric power shortages all the public facilities are going to be closed during the evening at least until the end of April. For the time being they are forced to practice outside during daytime. I will write about my son's dodge-ball later in this blog.

In serious situation I found a little joy in my garden on March 16.
My tulips which I planted last November started to come out. Still just a few of them.

But later more and more buds came out!
The following photo was taken today 25th March. All Tulips came out.

When we came back from Holland I purchased a lot of Tulip bulbs at the airport souvenir shop. I bought too much that I could not plant all of them in my garden because of the space. I don't have an idea when they going to bloom here in Japan but I look forward to it.

Now I am going to introduce some plants in full bloom in my garden and around my house.

My Christmas roses in full bloom. There are several other Christmas roses around the house. These are my favorite plants.

According to Wiki this is called 'daphne odora'. I like it's flagrance.

I didn't expect that this Muscari bloom. Originally my daughter grew in this pot at school and brought it home before we left for Holland in 2009. Since we forgot about this Muscari we didn't take care of it after that. We have never watered. This is life. Life is beautiful!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

4th day after the earthquake

It was the biggest earthquake I ever experienced.
First the tremor was not so big and I turn on the TV as usual to get information.
On the TV screen it showed that the epicenter was offshore of Miyagi.
But suddenly the tremor got bigger and I hid myself under the dining table with my son.
The tremor got bigger and bigger and I felt the epicenter was a lot closer.
I called out to my daughter to hide under the table but for some reason she did not come to me immediately, I found out later that she was in the bathroom.
As my daughter suggested us to go out side.
Usually we have trained to hide under the table during the first tremor and after the tremor we should go outside. But the vision of the recent earthquake in New Zealand where a lot of Japanese died in the collapsed building was recalled in my head and I rushed outside with my son. The house was violently shaking and I felt the frame of the front door was shaking which made opening the door difficult!
Outside the ground was shaking in the way I have not experienced before and I felt standing up still was not easy. After the tremor we enter the house and made sure the damage. It was unbelievable that the damage was almost none comparing to the violence of the tremor. The only damage was a wine glass which fell down in the cupboard. The two glasses and the milk carton which were left on the dining table were safe. The big cupboard in the kitchen moved forward, which is very heavy and I tried to push it back but couldn't, and dishes inside also moved forward and there were some nearly falling down but no dish was broken or cracked. A clock on the wall of the dining room fell down and hit an apple. I feared that tall furniture like cupboard and TV might fall down but it didn't happen in our house. Just books on the desks of my children and books on the bookshelf on the second floor jumped out on the floor.
The following photo is my daughter's desk after the earthquake.

To be honest my daughter is not good at keep her things tidy and sometimes the similar scene can be seen but definitely the textbooks scattered on the floor were caused by the earthquake. But I can't tell about the drawer. My daughter often leaves the drawers open.

After the first tremor many tremors came. At first we rushed outside whenever we felt tremors. About 15 minutes after the first tremor we had second earthquake in the same epicenter. And we had another offshore of Ibaraki which is closer to our house.
All the TV stations started to broadcast urgent news program after that.
I kept watching the news about the earthquake. Warning for tsunami were issued. And I saw shocking scenes of deadly tsunami approaching people.
The following video was taken from TV which was reporting about tsunami disaster in Kamaishi-shi of Iwate.

On the day of the earthquake all the train stopped.
My husband works in Tokyo and at first he tried to come home on foot.
I thought it is not a good idea and suggested him to go to his parent's house in Tokyo not very far from his office, which he did finally.

We still have many medium to smaller quakes.
The number of casualties increases day after day.
We hear about the serious situation of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
There was an explosion of the No.1 reactor on Saturday and I hear there was an explosion of No.3 reactor today.
Major electric power supply company announced implementation of rolling blackouts last night.
We are expecting blackouts for several hours twice a day during this week.
Number of dead should be more than 10,000.
Because of the difficulty of transporting we expect shortage of gasoline in many gas station.
I tried to purchase some yesterday but at the nearest gas station the gasoline was already sold out.
Rolling blackouts affected public transportation in Kanto area. No JR runs today. Most of all other private railway company announced diminished services which makes commuting difficult to work places or school.

Just after the quake telephone didn't work and it was difficult to make sure my husband and our parents were fine. About three hours later the line got recovered and made sure our relatives including my husband's safety.

Influence on my children's school life;
School lunch providing facility was damaged by the earthquake and they announced us of suspension of providing school lunch until the end of the semester. Children are going to be released before lunch time everyday until the school finishes on 24th.

Today I went out with my children by bike. On the way I saw a very long line of car waiting to purchase gasoline, I guess about 50 cars! That gas station in our neighborhood where I saw the sold-out sign yesterday. I didn't know that they still had gas to sell for the next day!? Do they keep some gas to sell tomorrow? Although many cars were in the line the station sign says sold out. After I got home I called this gas station but nobody answered! I wonder when I can refill gas for our car!

I did not expect the situation so serious. The shopping mall in the neighborhood is closed today because of rolling blackouts and commuting difficulty of the employers. In the evening of Sunday we could still get groceries but I wonder if we can buy enough food for tomorrow at present. Definitely the situation is a lot more worse than I thought here in Chiba.

Thinking of people who were suffering from the disaster in Tohoku region I fell really sorry. I can't stop feeling of going there and help. I wish the people still waiting for the rescue will be saved as soon as possible.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dodge ball

My son is in a dodge ball team and practices everyday.
I don't know if dodge ball is worldly known sports as its name but in Japan it is popular particularly as kid's sports. When I was an elementary school students dodge ball was very popular and we used to play after school in the park.
For people who don't know what is dodge ball like please look at the following movies.

My son is wearing No.7 yellow bib.
One team consists of 8 to 12 players according to ages group and rules introduced in the match.
Per team there is usually one outfield player and other players try to catch the ball which was thrown by opponent players. Although all players are younger than 13 but some good players can throw a volleyball size ball, which is used in an official match of dodge ball, at more than 80 km/h. The outfield player throw the ball to attack the opponent inner-field player. The inner filed is 10m square field. If he hits an opponent inner-field player he can move to his team's inner field, on the other hand the attacked inner fielder has to move to outfield. Winning or losing is determined by the number of inner-field players.

My son's team is quite a good team in Chiba. This year they won the championship in Chiba tournament and were supposed to challenge Kanto championship in March. But because of the earthquake Kanto championship tournament was cancelled and my son's team had to give up their hope to proceed to All Japan championship tournament.
In the past son's team has the record of the third place in All Japan 2009 in summer. I hope they can get good result in the next championship. But the problem is that they don't have places to practice as before because of energy saving after the disaster. Until the disaster they used to practice in the school gym two weekdays and every Sunday evening. But after the disaster every public facility is closed after 5 pm to save energy. Children are trying to keep up the past practice volume by doing self practice at home or in the school ground after school but daytime practice is difficult to get cooperation of adult for coaching and supervision.

Kanto: means the area including Tokyo metropolis and surrounding 6 prefectures.

Hina-Matsuri or Girl's Feltival

Today is Hinamatsuri.
I was surprised to see Google's homepage.
An illustration of Japanese Hinamatsuri dolls was on it.
Is the Google's homepage universal? If so Hinamatsuri may have captured acknowledgement in the world.
It reminds me of the fact that there were a lot of opportunities to introduce Japanese culture and on March 3rd there was a display of Hinamatsuri in my children's school in Holland.

For Hinamatsuri Japanese family take out Hinamatasuri dolls from the shed in advance.
It depends but a few weeks earlier I think.
In our house the following dolls are displayed.

Always I get confused which doll is right and left.
So I am not sure this is the right position. I heard that it depends on times and locals.
I heard the dolls represent Japanese Emperor and Empress marriage in older days.
Parents pray their daughter's happy marriage by displaying Hinamatsuri dolls.
My dolls set is very simple one compared to those which are more gorgeous and with more dolls and miniature furniture displayed on the stairs shaped shelf with 5 or 7 steps.
When I was little I did not have Hinamatsuri dolls in my house. Because I was a third child and the first and only girl in my family my parents did not have a chance to find one. I always asked my parents to get me nice dolls set but the problem was we didn't have enough space to keep a big one in our house. At last my mother learned how to make Kimekomi dolls and made these two Hinamatsuri dolls for me.

Kimekomi dolls: they are made by pasting fabric on the surface of a wooden doll. Drapes of the doll's garment's are expressed by curving out lines on the wooden body and pasting fabric on the surface using a steal tooth pick like tool.

It is said we should put away the dolls immediately after March 3rd otherwise it is likely that our daughter's marriage become delayed.

Today's dinner menu is;

Gomoku-zushi or vinegared rice mixed with cooked vegetables
I put ikura, salmon's eggs and nori on top.

Shira-ae or tofu mixed with vegetables
Ushio-jiru or clam soup
I had cherry blossom shaped 'fu' or wheat bran in stock and put some as garnish which makes simple soup look pretty and yummy.
desert, cake which I bought at the supermarket.