Japan 3-11 – One Year On

Today marks theĀ  1 year mark since the massive earthquake and tsunami hit the Touhoku area (north east) of Japan. Tomorrow will mark 1 year since the first reactor at the Daiichi nuclear power plant exploded due to a meltdown.

As you may or may not know, I have been living and still live in Fukushima prefecture with my wife and 1 year old son, about 70 kms from the Pacific coast and troubled Daiichi powerplant.

I want to let you know that we are all safe, healthy and happy here. There are still a lot of different opinions and debate over the safety of Fukushima so I appreciate your thoughts and concerns both positive and negative. But I don’t want to start a debate here. We are far outside the 30km exclusion zone and keep a close eye on the news and everything that is happening around us.

The main thing is that we are living peacefully and enjoying each day that we have together here in this beautiful country. Spring will soon be upon us and we’re looking forward to enjoying the outdoors without all the snow around us.

On TV tonight, there was a program covering the 1 year anniversary of the 3-11 disaster on 5 out of the 6 Japanese TV channels. After watching, I consider myself extremely lucky to get away with such little consequence compared to tens of thousands who lost everything – including their families.

Dont-give-up-japan
Image by Karolina Burdon

We are still alive. I, my wife and son are perfectly safe and healthy – as is my wife’s family and relatives. My house or car didn’t get washed away. I didn’t have to re-locate to a temporary house made of thin sheet metal on top of a baseball field. None of my friends or extended family lost anything either.

Strangely enough, everything returned to normal within a couple of months after the whole thing went down (or blew up!) – just like it was up until the time of the disaster. The only thing that is different in our lives, and keeps us ‘guessing’ is the radiation. But like I said, we’re aware of it and staying out of harms way. Food, water, air, are all tested extensively. Our city hall provides regular health checks (if we want them). All supervisions for our health and prosperity are provided so we can live peacefully here.

Anyway, life is too short to be worried. We’re all going to leave this world behind us some day so the best thing to do is live everyday like it’s your last. I try to find a little bit of happiness in every day and that is all I need – and is so easy.

Thanks for reading.. and thanks for all your support over the last 12 months!

Stu Sensei and Family

the Stirlings

 

Back In Japan, Back To Life

My wife, Chino and I arrived back in Japan on April 21 after our 3 week refuge in Australia.

I wanted to write this post much earlier, but caught a nasty cold the day after arriving in Japan which is still lingering as I type this!

Although my Australian family were afraid of us going back to Japan after only 3 weeks, our assessment on the situation here was positive and safe enough to make the decision to come back.

We had a great relaxing time in Oz… and minimal internet access! That was due mainly to the internet speed being so terribly slow that I found it hard to even check my email!

Anyhow, it wasn’t a bad thing. It was a good reason to stay off the PC and enjoy the almost perfect weather there every day and catching up with friends and family.

Even though it would have been great to continue the ‘vacation’, the world is still turning so we have to get on with our lives and do what we can to help the country we love.

Japan needs us!

This has been the worst disaster to strike Japan since WWII. To recover from it, it needs all the support it can get. Just by being here, we’re helping the economy and helping those around us.

The image above says “Ganbatte! Japan” which translates to “Hang in there Japan!”. As we’re part of Japan, we’re hanging in there with the rest of us.

The damage the 3/11 catastrophe has caused us and millions of other people will take more time to recover from. But we’re taking things one day at a time and each day, and things are getting a little more normal every day.

Still, earthquakes shake the ground all over Japan on a daily basis – but mainly the north-east region where we are. Actually, a fairly big one just hit a few minutes ago while writing this post!

Earthquakes can’t be avoided or predicted (although not many occur in Australia) but we can prepare for them – as with almost any disaster in life and business.

Are you prepared for when disaster strikes?

Think about what you can do to prepare for disaster, whether it’s a natural, personal, financial or business disaster. Have you got recovery methods in place?

Life doesn’t always give us sunshine and roses, but we should appreciate it when it does and be strong and prepared when it gives us storms! Stay strong, don’t give up!

Stu Sensei Stirling

Update From Australia: 22 Days After The Quake

After staying in a friend’s place south of Tokyo for 12 days, we have moved once again in our evacuation efforts since the situation isn’t seeming to improve much around our place in Fukushima.

Now, we’re in my home country; Australia, where we’ll stay with my lovely but overly worried Mum for a scheduled 3 weeks. If it will be safe enough to go back home then, only time will tell.

There are still very mixed reports about the situation there… like radiation levels are dropping, but the radiation in the water is increasing off the charts.

Then there are the fears of plutonium that has been detected around the plant. God forbid more plutonium doesn’t leak and the amount already there isn’t enough to reach us or anyone and do harm.

Anyway, I just wanted to keep this update short and say that things are still ‘up in the air’… literally, as are our plans for the near future.

But for the meantime, we’re stationed here in Brisbane Australia for the next little stint.

I really hope this somehow all magically blows over and in 3 weeks from now, everything will be normal again. Maybe wishful thinking but that’s pretty much all we’ve got to rely on; apart from the workers trying to get this under control.

The workers there at the plant are putting their life on the line and the Japanese are smart, and extremely responsible and honorable when it comes to problems like this. It would be dishonorable for anyone to not give it their all to work out a solution as quickly as possible.

As the motto goes, “Pray for Japan”. We all are and I really hope you are too.

Any extra help at this time is extremely valuable… even if it is in the form of a silent prayer.

Thanks for all the support from everyone of my friends/readers/customers so far. It really means a lot to me that you are thinking of us and others in Japan.

We’re still in the middle of this, with a long way to go till we pop out the other side… but it’s just a matter of time.

Hopefully I will still have enough energy and sanity when this ends.

Best wishes,

Stu ‘Sensei’ Stirling

Update From Japan: 13 Days After The Earthquake

I thought I’d write a quick update about us and my thoughts about the Japan Crisis on my blog since many of my readers have been asking about our welfare here in Japan.

A big thank you goes out to my readers and customers for all your emails and messages of concern for me and my family.

I’m sure you’ve seen the news and understand what happened in Japan on March 11th, 2011 – a date I won’t forget quickly.

For those who don’t know, I live in Fukushima prefecture Japan, in Nihonmatsu city – about 60kms (40 miles) from the east coast of Japan where the Nuclear power plant crisis is taking place.

Having personally been in the middle of the Japan crisis, it has been a truly nerve rattling and sanity testing experience for my wife and I with our 8 month old baby over the last 13 days.

Although it has been the biggest and most tiring ordeal of our lives, we are safe and relatively happy now.

We are temporarily staying at a friend’s house down below Tokyo (300kms away from the nuclear plant) out of danger of the radiation and tsunamis.

Unfortunately, earthquakes still persist and there’s not much we, or anyone in Japan can do about that.

It’s something I never dreamed would happen and it’s still hard to believe it did happen.

Although our nerves are much calmer now than before, we and the rest of Japan are still not in the clear.

The affects of the Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear issue are being felt all over the east side of Japan and it’s looking like it will take a long time for things to get everything back to normal. Just how long, no-one knows.

But knowing the Japanese and their fighting spirit, I am hopeful that things will improve at a very fast pace.

So far, 13 days after the disaster, many things have been fixed such as power, water and temporary housing, among other important things. All these things are a good sign of steady progress.

I know this update was very late, and I’m sorry for keeping you waiting. It’s just been today that I’ve been able to find the time, energy and composure to write this.

So if you were worried or thinking of us here, this will let you know that we are all ok – we’re stayin’ alive!

We’ve still got a long hard road ahead of us, and we’re just playing it by ear at the moment, so we’re appreciative of your support!

Thanks again for all your thoughts and wishes during this disaster. I’ll be in touch again soon.

Stu Sensei Stirling

p.s. While things are mostly fine with us, there are thousands of people who are in serious need of help. If you’d like to donate to the relief aid, here’s where you can go