Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Life in the Wake of the Great Quake, pt. VI: The Cycle Goes On

Spring came late this year, but it came nonetheless. Neither the ravages of the Great Tohoku Quake of 2011 nor the fallout (literal as well as figurative) left in its wake could stop the cycle of life.

yoa spring 2011 a
The famous cherry blossom canopy framing the road into Ye Olde Academy usually appears just in time to herald the new school year and welcome the new students. This year it came just a little too late.

yoa spring 2011 c
The delicate beauty of the sakura blossoms normally forms a welcome contrast to the brown-tinted, pollen-belching sugi trees [*ACHOO* sniff...] that ring the campus. Now the short-lived blooms seem pale yet defiant, standing against the gray of a troubled month, reminding us that things may not be the same, but at least life is going on.

yoa spring 2011 e
Look one way, and you see the visual song of life, almost forgetting that scars of the quake are still there right behind you.

yoa spring 2011 f
Even now, only a short drive away, there are still neighborhoods without working sewers or running water. There are still roads that are shattered ruins. There are countless roofs whose wounds are covered with blue tarps. There are still store shelves standing bare of certain products. The nearby beaches are still covered with tsunami debris and oil that is likely radioactive. The news from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is like a pendulum bouncing between hope and despair. Aftershocks continue to shake us several times a day, and seismologists warn another big one could hit at any time. And yet here, in the middle of it all, nature tells us that we have only to take what we have and keep going.

yoa spring 2011 g
The new school year got off to a weird start, but at least it started. Preparations for the annual Sports Festival in late April got disrupted, but they are progressing nonetheless. We were forced to cancel our Big Regular Concert in late March so that refugees could stay in the performance hall, but we're going to have a scaled-down performance tomorrow in our own school auditorium...a performance that will come complete with emergency evacuation instructions, but a performance nonetheless. We move on a path that is less secure, less certain than usual, but we are moving forward.

yoa spring 2011 i
We're told that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is now officially on par with Chernobyl. People fear the rain. They fear the sky. But if you look up, you see that things aren't as ugly as you might believe. The radiation contamination is still largely local, and is far less dangerous than what Chernobyl belched out. Actually, farm produce in many parts of Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures that were banned from sale a few weeks ago have been retested recently and found safe. The worst danger may already be over.

yoa spring 2011 k
Instead of cowering, we should be moving ahead and upward. Damage can be fixed (like this stairway, which was damaged by the quake and blocked off, but is now open again). Instead of crying over our losses, we should be counting our blessings.

The healing will take a long time, but it has to move forward. Life will go on.


  • Great post, Kevin. And so well said. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us.

    By Blogger Strange Bird Society, at 1:36 PM  

  • When I saw our cherry blossoms, I thought immediately of Japan. I look forward to the day when the strangeness of now becomes strange by its absence for you. That wish is only for those far enough inland to escape the loss of their homes. Nothing can replace that loss or the enormity of changes that those people must face. Like the 9th ward of New Orleans, the changes are permanent and the losses are sometimes irrevocable.

    By Anonymous Kehlwok, at 2:11 PM  

  • Very nice post.

    Beautiful flowers. Around here I am also enjoying the songs of the Uguisu birds.

    Life will go on. Indeed.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 11:27 AM  

  • hajimemashite, dozo yoroshiku.
    hi, hope you don't mind me visiting. you're in japan, and quite in the smack of the things that are happening. i wish you well too. i came from selba's.

    By Blogger tuti, at 12:59 PM  

  • 日本,加油!

    儘管如此, 生活仍須繼續!所以我們要珍惜生命,惜緣惜福!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:18 PM  

  • Nature does have a great way of just carrying on...

    It seems very strange that the Japanese nuclear situation is in the same category as Chenobyl - over here they are saying that this just shows how badly designed the categories are!

    By Blogger Rock Chef, at 9:50 PM  

  • (GOD I hate the "new and improved" comment thread system! If my comment is a little too long, it says, "We were unable to complete your request," and doesn't allow you to go back, i.e. everything you wrote is toast. Alright...I'll try it again.)

    Strange Bird Society
    Thanks for stopping by! I know I haven't been keeping my blog up very well, and I miss it.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:54 PM  

  • Kehlwok
    Things are most definitely changed permanently. A lot of landmarks were trashed. So were a lot of important essentials for the infrastructure. Things can be replaced, but they won't be the same.

    Thanks for visiting! I wish I had your freedom to go out and take good pictures. I just have to grab what I can when I'm able. Still, we have to treasure what we have.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:57 PM  

  • Tuti
    Yokoso! Feel free to visit anytime you wish! It's good to see you! If more people come, it might give me more motivation to keep this blog up.

    我們是做我們的最好的全部。 我們必須前进。 回顾太多不會帮助我們。
    (Kudos to Babelfish...)

    Rock Chef
    The problem is that the whole rating system is simplistic and overgeneralized. The criteria for Level 7 is "Significant amounts of radioactive material released into the environment." That can mean a huge amount of iodine 131 and cesium 137 blasted into the upper atmosphere and carried all over the world. It can also mean measurable traces of the same isotopes in the local soil and water. It's like lumping an individual playing on a cranked 30-watt amp and a military airbase into the same noise pollution category because both involve "significant amounts of noise released into the environment". It's ridiculous.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:03 PM  

  • please do keep this blog up.
    i am most intrigued with what's happening at ground level. i only can get news from japan hour and the other facebook links, so those do not show what's happening to the areas around.
    also, i can understand how people feel and live life despite.

    you know, i learn now from many japanese people the synonymous acceptance of how life needs to go on and accepting the powers of nature. and you are writing it the way they feel.
    thank you, moody minstrel. i really appreciate your blog.

    By Blogger tuti, at 5:08 PM  

  • by the way, i really like your compositions. had chance to listen to the first 'swarga ki sans'. am going to savor it and take my time to listen to the rest. must make good things last longer!
    the beat and rhythm, awesome stuff going on in your head!!

    By Blogger tuti, at 5:15 PM  

  • Great post, as always! I was surprised a few days ago to see some beautiful cherry blossoms on trees lining the streets of downtown Provo, and of course was reminded of hillsides full of ume (plum) blossoms at Kairakuen in Mito and the stunning beauty of sakura (cherry) blossoms everywhere. Great news about the local produce being mostly safe as well, that's promising! -- Andy

    By Blogger Andy Wheeler, at 8:05 AM  

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