Monday, 4 April 2011

3 & 1


It has been over three weeks since the earthquake.

Yesterday my Girl Scout troop teamed up with the Boy Scout troop and went to the local train station with hand decorated posters and money boxes to collect for the Red Cross. It was cold. Me and my girls, in our skirts, were shivering in moments. But, to use a cliche, my heart was warmed time and time again.

The Japanese have the reputation of not donating to charity but a disaster of this scale so close has changed that. When we've collected money previously for other reasons we were lucky to collect maybe twenty thousand yen (really roughly $200). This time, however, even cutting out time by a third we raised nearly seventy thousand yen, and that doesn't even include what the Boy Scouts collected!

Whereas before primarily older women would stop and put a couple of coins in the box of each girl, this time people of all ages were giving, and most quietly folded a bill and slipped it in one box before thanking us and heading off to catch their train. There were seniors in wildly age inappropriate clothing (seriously do not need to see that much, or even ANY wrinkled cleavage!), couples with young children, young professionals, and even a group of junior high students in their soccer uniforms who teased each other as they opened their own wallets and gave us a few coins.

I don't know how long these types of donations will continue as there are boxes and baskets and bottles for donations in every store, restaurant, and business. But it does show that donations can and do happen here, and it is pretty impressive.


It has been a week since I handed in my keys and left the old apartment. The landlord's wife came by before I left and brought us a gift. She then asked when we were holding the ceremony... I paused for a second but gave in and just said we hadn't set a date yet, and thanked her for the gift.

The new place is still a mess of boxes since our new furniture has yet to be delivered. Our studies are covered in piles of books and papers, our bedroom has clean laundry piled everywhere, and the kitchen floor is being taken over by random stuff tossed aside as we search for something from one of the boxes.

On Sunday U picked me up from GS and we headed out to the newly reopened Ikea - us and everybody else, as it turned out! The parking lot was worse than the mall on Christmas Eve, we had to stalk a poor family to secure seats in the cafeteria restaurant, and there was a 10 minute line for carts in the warehouse. But we picked out a bed-frame and mattress, a dresser for me (no more plastic drawers!!), and various storage bits and bobs and then enjoyed super cheap soft ice cream to recharge.

We're learning how to live together too - U is (hopefully) learning how to be quieter when he goes to work on Saturday morning, and how to call or text so I have some idea of when he'll be home in the evening. I'm learning to give up nagging him to do something instead of "resting" (aka falling asleep in front of the TV) because as soon as I announce I'm going to bed he'll jump up and start doing whatever it is (and then wake me an hour later when he comes to bed).

I spent Friday night at home alone while U enjoyed himself at what I am sure was the first of many drinking parties, but on Sunday night it suddenly occurred to me that U wouldn't be heading back to Tsukuba, that he'd be coming home on Monday night after work, I was thrilled... until I realized that meant I was expected to cook dinner!


  1. It was nice to read about the amazing donations you were receiving. Alicia and I are discussing about how we will talk about the earthquake and tie it into Pathfinder program work this Wednesday at our meeting. I think I will read the first part of this post to them so the girls can think about how GS/GG can help locally and globally.

    Congratulations on the new apartment. It is a very exciting time for you and U.

    Linda in Winnipeg (Liz's Mom)

  2. Thanks for the story about Japanese charity - I suppose that is a silver lining that comes out of catastrophe. Is giving to the Japanese Red Cross the best way to donate for someone abroad?

    I'm looking forward to hearing more about your living together experiences. So far, it all sounds good! (But whose expecting you to cook dinner? U? Or You? These days, if I don't feel like making dinner, I don't, even if I've been home all day. Then L makes something, or we make something together when he gets home. So, you really don't have to make dinner, unless you want to...)
    love and hugs, Cath

  3. Linda - hi!! If you want me to send you anything, let me know! Also, you should check out for personal testaments and experiences of the earthquake. Good luck and thank you!

    Cath - if I didn't make dinner U would likely stay at work till 10 or later and then pick up some junk on his way home. If we are going to eat together at an hour that means I can get enough sleep to be up the next morning then me making it really is the only option. Besides, once our kitchen unit arrives I will have a kitche I enjoy using, and I actually like cooking under those circumstances (no, I won't feel that every night, I know. But I am looking forward to getting a nifty little oven...this summer... Hint hint! ;)

  4. I'll look forward to getting that nifty little oven with you - and shopping in Chinatown and making mapo tofu together! Happy birthday! love and hugs, C

  5. thanks for sharing information about the Girl Scout donations. I am working with Girl Scouts of DC to make a donation through GSUSA to GSJ. I am also developing a patch people can buy for proceeds to go to the GS of DC fund here:

  6. Nicole - I love your patch! Now I just have to figure out if I can order one to be delivered to Japan! (unless I can arrange a badge swap with you directly??)