Thursday, March 24, 2011

Light within ourselves

Sanshuyu  (cornus officinalis) bloom soft yellow flowers from March to April.
They are used in Chinese medicine and tea. 

The language of flowers: endurance, continuation, bravery, or modest happiness

Human beings are not superior or opposed to nature but a part of nature:  heaven, earth, and all the things both animate and inanimate, are embedded in one.  People can't help but feel deep resignation in the devastation caused by enormous power of nature. 

(a month ago)

(a week ago)

On this record powerful earthquake and tsunami, I've confirmed what I had believed:
We, human beings, have light within ourselves even when immersed in the darkness.

Sanshuyu bear red fruits in autumn.

Thank you, my Friends and everybody who has stopped by, for your heartfelt thoughts and prayers via comments or e-mails.  I also really appreciate warm helps and supports stretched out from the world.  I do believe the reconstruction of Tohoku (northeast Japan). Below is what I’ve been thinking as one of Japanese who live far away from the stricken Tohoku.
It’s almost impossible to perfectly predict earthquake but possible to minimize damages.  Japan has made preventive measures like strict building code, reinforcement of the old buildings, or making dams in the affected region.  However,  sometimes power of nature far overpowers. I hope this experience be a lesson in the land of earthquakes.

Torment of the victims has been increased by radiation threat at Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Although it was caused by earthquake and tsunami, it is a man-made disaster.  Since Japan is the only country against which nuclear bombs were dropped,  Japanese have had deep ambivalence about the use of nuclear power even as peaceful use.  And besides, building nuclear plants is a big challenge because there is almost no place in Japan that is safe from major seismic events.  Nuclear plants must have been constructed with the highest focus on mitigating seismic risks.  However, no one has been able to predict this scale of earthquake and tsunami. I wonder if we can say it can't be helped. 

I’ve been watching the development holding my breath.  At a time like this, it’s quite difficult to let anxiety go, but it’s important to believe in people who are working frantically, almost without sleep, risking their lives in the dangerous zone, and many other workers who are deeply committed to help and recover.  It’s also important for us ordinary people to go on our lives, never forgetting smiles, tolerating inconveniences, while cooperating anything we can do. 

Another disaster is caused by rumors.   This can be caused by careless mass-media.  Those who know well about radioactivity and the mechanism of nuclear plants don’t seem to be afraid, while there are those who overreact with psychological shock, and in between many people try to maintain self-control.  While I’ve been watching the development, I've depended on the information from the website suggested by some people and learned it won’t be as bad as feared. 

Media often report like this “.... a hundred times amount of radiation higher than the normal level.....”   This sounds abnormal and alarming, but the fact is it is not still hazardous to our health .  Actually the amount of a hundred times is  5 to 15 micro sievert (“micro sievert” is 1/1000 of “milli sievert”) depending on the area.   We will be exposed to, for example,  190 micro sievert radiation by a round-trip flight between New York and Tokyo, or 50 micro sievert by a chest X-ray examination.  Large amount of radiation can cause illness and death, but we shouldn’t panic in reasonably small release as the consequences are not likely to be disastrous. (Not perfectly safe but not disastrous.)  As a result of this man-made rumor disaster, people living around Fukushima got to be isolated and left behind from relief supplies.

I participated in the session of my English Reading Group last week.  Now we are reading  Wind, Sand, and Stars (Terres des Hommes) by Saint-Exupery, my all-time favorite.  The story touches essentials as a man: pilots challenge limit of their strength and live their full potentials in their very harsh conditions.  I see the same human spirit in the people who are now working in adversity with courage, strong sense of responsibility, and resilience.  I also see it in victims who still have light in their heart even at the depth of the worst sadness.  I find many heroes: town civil servants who appealed to evacuation to the last moment and got swallowed by tsunami, firefighters who kept spraying water to a nuclear plant where dangerous level of radiation fills the air, to name a few.

On more positive note, Fukushima nuclear plant situation is getting better with partial recovery of electricity, which leads to fundamental solution to the plants' cooling system.  (Knocking on wood.) The whole situation is constantly changing.  My great concern is people suffering losses in the stricken area, ... so heartaching, .... but on the contrary there are times I feel encouraged by them to see their attitude.  The way to recovery has just started: traffic routes are being improved, shelters under construction, aids both financial and manpower from all over Japan congregating Tohoku.  When people get together and strive towards reconstruction, Tohoku people will surely get back on their feet, like Kobe, my hometown, got revitalized after its devastation from Great Hanshin Earthquake.


Thank you for reading.



  1. Hei, hei!

    Beautiful and interesting.
    I am convinced that Japan will be able to pass safely over this ordeal.
    It has wonderful people

  2. That was useful information on radiation units.
    Nice post, very well written.

  3. My dear FRIEND,
    I'm happy to see you again !
    With your wonderful spring photos, brings consolation!
    I strongly believe the Japanese people, why have patience, hard work and SOLIDARITY!
    I heard on Greek TV, Greek nuclear scientist, saying that radiation is so little, as long as a CT scan.
    All goes well, the thought of all are with you !

  4. I's so happy to hear from you - missed your beautiful post so much!
    I'm sure Japan will recover from this horrible disaster, however it may take time!
    I'm sending my best wishes!

  5. Like you I believe there is a light within that we share with all life, including your beautiful blossoms. It is a source of power and transformation. We have been most impressed in the West with the self-control and community spirit of the Japanese people. Living in an earthquake prone area, we in the West also learn from the Japanese to improve prevention methods here. One lesson is that we can never predict the severity of future earthquakes. So builders must imagine ever increasing worst-case scenarios. This helps us know how to better design structures in the future. So glad you are well and sharing your valued perspective.

  6. It is so obvious to the whole world, that the lovely people of Japan speak and act (as you say) ~in the language of flowers: endurance, continuation, bravery and modest happiness. In the few months I have been following you, I have come to know that you would be one to go on with your life, never forgetting to smile and be thankful and tolerate inconveniences. There's no better way to be for peace of mind. Working together slowy, but surely, many things can be overcome and accomplished.
    Glad you have such a good outlook Yoko.
    Smiles to you...Wanda

  7. Your title "Light within ourselves" is apt as are these words which I have come to associate with the Japanese people: "courage, strong sense of responsibility, and resilience." I'm so glad that some of my Nara friends are blogging once again. It's good to read what is actually happening in your country instead of relying entirely on the media. My thoughts remain with you.

  8. Your words ring true. Know that around the world people are concerned about the people who have been affected as well as about the nuclear situation. While we cannot control nature, we can control what we do to it. We have to live in harmony with it and not let our consumer society make us think that we cannot destroy nature with our constant "wants". Watching your flowers is so much more fulfilling than watching TV. Maybe we have to learn to live with less to enjoy more.

  9. The flowers are beautiful. Very informative post.

  10. Thank you for posting this blog. I know your blog friends overseas have waited for your post.
    I am also grateful to them for their concerns and sharing the same feeling with us and wishing for our recovery. I think that's what your blog written in English has been for and you've been doing a good job.

    Things are changing everyday and we can't foresee what happens next but seeing people, both sufferes themselves and volunteers or the people involved, who are making undaunted efforts to make things better in the sites, gave me hope that things will turn out to be in the way they should.

    Sanshu blossoms are so beautiful.

  11. Great post.前からこのポストを拝見していましたが、コメントが遅れました。。senond languageの英語ですが、心に届いています。

  12. Hello, Stardust.
    Your post encouraged your friends including me. The tragedy in Touhoku and Kantou area is still going on, but I think, the Japanese have shared our sadness and become one to overcome this serious tragedy. At the same time I am very proud of Japanese people involved in volunteer works, helping for each other in the disastrous area. I believe things will be changing,and a light to recover will be seen soon.

  13. «Louis» thanks you for visiting San Francisco Bay Daily Photo.

    Mme la Vache lived in Japan for 15 years. Her son still lives there as do her brother and her mother.

  14. Each time I see Sansyuyu flowers I imagine some fire which burn quietly.

    These fantastic photos of the flowers match with your serene but strong message.
    I cannot say anything about nuclear station so far because of the changing information, while I'm encouraged by your message.

    I would like to do my best as a person who was not harmed by the disaster.

  15. Lovely flowers... The way they changed over a week or so tells us about evolving... Japan will definitely overcome this huge loss, God give them the strength...
    And that info on radiation was very nicely put.
    Have a good day:-)

  16. So happy to see you here and to read your post so full of compassion. I so very much admire the co-operation, grace, dignity and bravery of the Japanese people as they try to solve the aftermath of the earthquake.

  17. Such beautiful photos of the flowers--an inspiration to us all. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and all of Japan. The "light" of the Japanese people will shine through and prevail. Take care. Mickie

  18. It is heartwarming colors.
    The people will be healed, too.

  19. I am getting seeing a little the biggness and seriousness of this earthquake,tunami,leak of radiation. But I can't see almost how Japan will go.Like you say I appreciate their responcibility. So I remember Ryoma's responcibility.

  20. Thank you, everyone, for the warm, encouraging and nice comment.

    Since the posting of this, nuclear crisis has been through more serious development. I suppose many people are trying to be calm and collected because we know panic makes the situation more frightening. I really hope situation will get better and better by challenging all the possible effective methods.

  21. Such a powerful and true post. I love your analogy with nature, particularly the flowers at the beginning.
    Sending love and light to you and your nation in these difficult times.

  22. Oops, I also meant to say thank you for posting on my blog. Stardust is a name I am drawn to. Can't explain it, but I just like the sound of it.
    I found you through Sarah's blog and I found Sarah through Sherry's blog (Q).


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