Monday, March 12, 2012


311 Anniversary Memorial Ceremony @Kamaishi, Iwate 

Long, long official ceremony, swamped with bureaucratic titles and resounding words.  It almost took the life out of the people who were attending it.
I would rather mourn you in the snow, where you used to live.
Nonetheless, the most moving part of the ceremony was the beautiful singing of the children's choir.  It brought tears to my eyes.

If the happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?

                                    ~Judy Garland, Over the Rainbow

Fallen like a star, you who cannot fly over the rainbow anymore.... rest in peace.
We will remember.

Haiku by the Seashore

March 1, 2012

There is a little temporary grocery shop beside our work base at Ootsuchi Akahoma elementary school.  The shop owner is a gentle artistic soul that loves to draw and write poems.  He treats us free coffee everyday.  It is a life saver when it is minus zero and snowing!!!

One day in Feb, a Haiku was written on the board.  It says,

In March
People who are to be met in dreams
Are plenty

Did you lost many friends?  I asked him. He nodded.
His original shop was actually right beside the ocean.  When the tsunami came, he made all the customers run and when he finally was going to flee for his own life, the water already came.  He had no choice but to hang onto a tree.  The water swallowed him and the tree.  He was actually under the water for a few minutes, or at least he felt it was.
It is truly a miracle that I am still alive, he said.
Although his family was fine, the land that he was once familiar has lost its landscape and the people he knew.

I look forward to have the volunteers come everyday, he said.  I think I did it more for myself.
Sometimes, when the snow is heavy, the Ootsuchi team will call off the work for a day because the land will be frozen.
He said, on one of those days when I don't see the bus arrive in the morning, I would think to myself, 'ahh, maybe they are not coming today...'

Snow day today, and Ootsuchi team is called off.
I thought of the lonely shadow in the small shop as I looked out through the window.
It would be a quiet day today.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On the Road

Deep in the fog.
Mountains become splashes of ink on thin paper.
Into the picture we go.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Disclaimer: This is not my bag.  

It belongs to an awesome friend I met when volunteering at Magokoro net.   In the past two years he has been volunteering as a teacher in an elementary school in Mongolia.  He just came back to Japan not long ago. 
In a jist, his blog entry talked about this bag that he has been using for the past three years.  It is sturdy, despite of the heavy load it has been carrying.  Parts worn out at times but after some needle works, it's as good as new.  It was loaded with pencil crayons, notebooks, dictionaries, scissors, camera, passport copy, teaching plans and water etc, as he traveled from place to place in the yellow wind of dust in the far far land.  

This bag is still running around with him in the disaster area. 

I am neither a person obsess with brand names nor hating it. The craft work and material quality of some brand names are well deserving.  Just that nowadays most buy for the name or trend without making the full use out of it.  Chinese has a saying, "Killing a chick using a butcher's knife for a cow".  I think probably most brand name products are wasted in such a pitiful state.  
When a brand name product met an owner that uses it for the purpose it is made for fully, what a rare and wonderful thing it is for both!

On the side.
I have had a retired "companion" bag too.  For almost 7 years, it has been to Kolkata India and over half of Japan with me.  One time one side of the strap broke off suddenly, just as I was about to leave a house to catch a bus.  I had no choice but to delay abit to do some patch work.  The short stay was a story by itself.   
When it was at its final stage of life beyond repairable, I couldn't manage to throw it away.  It is still sitting quietly on the shelf of my closet.  One day when I get home, I should take a picture of this old friend and show you here! :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Wait

Sun rises and night falls,
The little horse sits in silence watching
cars zoom and people trickle by.

I passed by it everyday
A little pat on its head is all I can give.
One day, maybe one day you will be gone when I come, I said to the little horse.
Maybe your owner will come pick you up and take you home.

The little horse continues to quietly sit.

In the Soil.

We went to Ootsuchi everyday to clean up debris from the foundation of houses.  Sometimes we find the concrete, sometimes it is all earth only.  In those cases, we will only plow through about 10cm deep of earth to clear any debris that come out of it, then all will be smoothed out.

Today at this site, it amazed me that the ground looked EXACTLY the same at the end of the day as it was at the beginning of the day. Only, we had a little mountain of debris on top of it as the sole evidence that we have actually worked!  I find it fascinating,  as if it is some archaeological artifacts in a deep slumber in the soil, awaits to be unearthed to see the sun again.  I guess in some ways they are the same.  They are all proves that people have once lived.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Was and Is.

One year ago, Iwate Prefecture, Ootsuchi.
Once, a hell on earth.
Now, a deserted land with shattered dreams, family and lives.

Now, it is a place I work in everyday.