I've been watching events unfold in Japan via news channels.
My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone struggling to cope in the aftermath, as well as to the victims and their families.
I lived in Japan for a little under 5 years, and as I've watched the news, I have been seeing places that are familiar to me, places I travelled to or passed through. And I've listened to the statistics and have found it so difficult to comprehend on a human scale the level of devastation.
Japan is broken up into "prefectures" in much the same way Britain has counties. One prefecture alone has 10,000 people unaccouted for. That's just one "county" along the eastern coast of Japan. That's the equivalent of a news reader announcing that 10,000 people are unaccounted for in Durham. And so far, there are many areas along the North Eastern coast of Japan that people have not been able to reach.
Japan is a mountainous country, with cities, towns and villages, generally speaking, developing on the lower level land around the base of these mountains. Large areas of Tokyo and Yokohama are built on reclaimed land around Tokyo Bay. The coastal area affected by the earthquake and tsunami has towns and villages running along it's entire length. Fishing villages and coastal towns. The Japanese equivalent of Budleigh Salterton, Dartmouth or Exmouth on the Southwest coast of England.
These towns and villages are not always easy to reach due to the nature of the mountainous landscape behind them. With power cuts, damaged transport systems and devastated roadways, it is even more difficult for people to reach those in need.
Many Japanese buildings in this coastal area are built from timber, making them "earthquake friendly". Timber buildings are light and flexible in comparison to brick buildings. If a building is able to bend and follow the energy created by the movement of an earthquake they tend to be less likely to collapse. Timber is good at doing this. Timber buildings tend to be more easily devastated by tsunamis, due to the very qualities that make them earthquake friendly. The tsunami has swept away buildings that actually survived the 9.0 earthquake. The wave has reached areas 1 km inland. Imagine a newsreader in Britain telling us that Dartmouth has been swept away by a 10 m wave. That would be devastating and shocking enough. But it isn't just one village or town. It's a whole coastline of towns and villages. Add to that explosions at nuclear plants, electricity cuts, food shortages, fuel shortages and it starts to reach unimaginable levels of chaos.
And yet, the Japanese people have not rioted, or looted. They have peacefully and quietly set about dealing with this devastating situation. Pulling together, working together.
Japan is a country very close to my heart.
You can donate to the Red Cross appeal to support relief efforts in Japan here .
Please make a donation if you can.
P.S. Thank you for your lovely, kind words for Neo and my cousin Fio. It meant a lot to read them. I have some things I've made I'd like to show you in my next posts, but it just didn't seem right posting about those things right now... I'll be back later this week. xxx