Category: Japan

23 Mar

The Sound of the Earthquake by Micah Frank

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments

I was born in a country of earthquake. Since I was little I don't know how many earthquakes I've experienced, from the small scale ones to the big scale ones (scale 6).

I hate the quake happens when I'm sleep. I'm so defenseless and there's nothing I can do. If the book shelf falls? If the roof fall down over me? Only I can do is wrap myself with duvet and duck my head inside it untill the quake stops.

A strange thing is that although I'm dead sleep, I always know it's coming. But I can only know that just a few second before the quake and it doesn't give me enough time to prepare.  How?

Because I hear the sound, sound of rumbling of the earth. It also sounds like a tube running down the ground. It seems like quite many people hear the same so it's not because I'm a Princess Mononoke and can talk to the nature. 


Apparently this is the sound of seismic wave. Seismic waves has two body waves, P wave and S wave, and the P wave as it's similar to the sound, with the vibration of the air it can be heard as a sound.

You can hear the sound of the earthquake from this link. Just click the speaker inside the site.


seismographUsing the seismograph, you can create a sound too. From this link, you can hear the sound of the earthquake and it's quite curious although it's very different from I usually hear.


The creator is Micah Frank is a New York based music and sound programmer. Currently, Micah is involved in a series of sonification projects that utilize real-time data to synthesize sound content

22 Mar

Tokyo Report 2 – To Outside of Tokyo

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments

This is the  continuation of Tokyo Report 1.

tepco tv

Despite of the huge scar that Tsunami left to Japan on the 11th of March, people in the devastated area and other places in eastern Japan were trying to find out the exit of this disaster.


As if makig sure we had been damaged enough, Fukushima nuclear plant had an explosion.


Some of you may know but there are two nuclear plant facilities in Fukushima prefecture.

ustream radiation level


This nightmare began in three rectors of six in one of two plants, Fukushima Daiichi (daiichi means no.1) although the rest of three rectors neither are in the perfect condition.

I won't discuss much about the condition of the rectors, I had decided to evacuate from Tokyo voluntarily with this nuclear plant accident.

Correctly, the fear for not being informed properly made me decided this option.


According to the announcement from the government at first, only the rector 1 had problem among three. As it was under control, the evacuation had been advised to only the local residents who lived in 10km zone from the plant.


However soon later, the rector 1 had a hydrogen explosion and the radioactivity had spread into the air with the steam.


radiation levelThere are many arguments over this accident that

TEPCO couldn't have made a decision to retire the rectors as once they pour the sea water, the rector cannot be used anymore,

or TEPCO had rejected the offer from the US of the cooler supply,

or the connection between the government officials and the civilian was weak etc..

I have no idea what was the real reason but only I know is that the accident in the nuclear power plants is caused by humans in the end.


The Japanese government later extended the evacuation zone to 20km and also little by little widen the zone where the people should standby inside the house.


I think the right way to do was

1. They should have settled bigger area as dangerous zone to make doubly sure.

2. Evacuate all the residents

3. Start recovery work

4. After the work is done, finally release the evacuation alert.


Did they want to demonstrate that everything was under control and no danger? Or did they want to avoid the panic? Who knows. At the end the government took a strategy completely opposite, which was

1. They have announced much smaller area as a dangerous zone,

2. failed recovery operation,

3. extended the dangerous zone

4. another failure in the recovery operation,

5. another extension of dangerous zone


After seeing two failures in their strategy and founding out that the third rector was about to explode, I made up my mind to leave Tokyo.

I was scared of not only the radiation but also being left behind.

Even after, I have been hearing the TV saying “there is no problem in Tokyo” or “the radiation level is harmless” but I never believed it.


Inronald reagan hajimemashite fact, the radioactivity was blown by wind and detected in Onagawa city in Miyagi which is 100km up north from Fukushima Daiichi or even on the US carrier, Ronald Reagan which was on standby in 180km away from the coast to the east. 

200km of distance between Fukushima and Tokyo meant nothing to me anymore.

Among the information flood, I drew a conclusion.


Fortunately my office made us to stay at home until the situation get settled.

I sealed all the window with the tape and wrapped the duct of the air-condition and the ventilator with plastic then just left the house taking almost nothing with me.

On the 15th of March, at 18:10 hrs. escape from tokyo

At the time my Shinkansen left Yokohama station for Osaka, there was an another hydrogen explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

On that day, Tokyo was covered with about 30 times higher level of radioactivity.

(Tokyo report from a Tokyo resident)

21 Mar

Botamochi Day on Shunbun no Hi

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan, Lifestyle, Vocabulary Tags: 0 Comments

vernal equinox day

Today the 21th of March is Shunbun no Hi in Japan, spring equinox day in English which is the beginning of the spring. In theory apart from today, the winter finishes and the day time is getting longer.


Shunbun no Hi is one of  Nijuushi Sekki and in 1948 this day was decided as a bank holiday in Japan. Supposedly this is the day of "praise the nature and cherish animals". 


amida-all-upIn buddhism during this term the sun settles in due west where corresponding to the east gate of Gokuraku (heaven in Japanese). Therefore praying the sunset is same as praying towards the entrance of Gokuraku. In this sense, the 21st of March is the closest day to the heaven. 


Before and after Shunbun no Hi, about a week period is called Higan means other side of the shore. If I say Nirvana, maybe easy to enderstand but I will explain about in another occasion. During Higan most of Japanese people visit cemetery to pray for the souls of the dead.


ohagiThe most common food to eat for Shunbun no Hi is Botamochi. This is also called Ohagi which is something like sweet mashed rice ball wrapped with sweet azuki bean paste. Sorry doesn't sound so tasty… But look at the photo, now yes, look tasty.

Actually there are two Higan in a year, in spring and in autumn. Somehow this sweet changes the name, Botamochi in spring and Ohagi in autumn. Don't get confused, they are exactly the same looking and taste. It's believed that the red of azuki beans protect us from bad spirits.


kusamochiAfter Botamochi, this Kusamochi is eaten commonly. This green colour is Yomogi leaf (mugwort in English) added in mochi paste. Tastes quite freshy. There is azuki bean paste inside. Caution, don't eat the leaf outside unless you are goat…




gomoku zushiThen Gomoku Chirashi zushi. Gomoku means mixed more than five ingredients. Chirashi is a tpe of sushi.

inari zushi



People also eat Inari zushi. People make or buy these food not only to eat but also to take to the cemetery for their loved ones. 


Shunbun no Hi this year must be a very difficult day for all Japanese people. Probably they are not in the mood of enjoying warm spring days.










In some regions in Japan they have traditional functions.

For example in Motosu City in Gifu prefecture, Komekashi festival (米かし祭り) is held in Kasuga Shrine. 

The day before Shunbun no Hi, men with Fundoshi (Japanese traditional underware/swimsuit) run to the mouth of the flume, go into the frozen river, wash the rice and take some water from the river then all come back to the Shrine.

This function is for to appreciate the people who built the flume and to pray for a rich harvest in autumn. I sympathise with those guys in this cold and promise to eat everything I'm served.    



More about Higan

Atsusa samusamo Higan made

Nijuushi Sekki

21 Mar

Survivors From the Earthquake After 9 Days

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments

Everyday we've seeing terrible images from Japan in the TV and they are painful. In Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture where it had the most severe damage from Tsunami, although the rescue teams are searching the area, it's more for looking for dead bodies than survivors.

It's said that after 72 hours, there is only little chance that people would survive. But on the 20th, after 217 hours later 80 year-old grandmother and her 16 year-old grandson were rescued safely from the wrecked house.


How they could survived for such a long time.

When the quake attacked Tohoku area, they were having lunch in the kitchen on the second floor. Then Tsunami attacked the house.


The water entered the kitcheand knocked the cupboard down. The two were stuck in a small space, they could only crawl. The good thing was they were in the kitchen with food, they had been eating things in the fridge such as yoghurt, candies, milk or coca cola, also they cheered up each other and never lost their hope to get rescued.

They also had been able to find dried blankets although the temperature in Sendai area where is 50km away from they were low at below zero. The boy seems to be frostbitten according to the hospital's announcement. I'm not surprised. 

mapThe boy was on holiday and was in his grandmother's house. The day after the quake his father who lives in Sendai received a phone call from the boy. Soon the father went to Ishinomaki to look for his son but there was no remain of the house. He then applied to the police for his 16 year-old son and his mother but until yesterday they couldn't be able to locate then and that's why it took so long.

It was almost miracle that the two were rescued in good condition. So why the rescue team couldn't find them?

In the map, the little pink rectangle is where the house was and it was washed away about several hundreds metres. Also the house was covered with debris and the voice for a help didn't reach outside.

On the 20th, the boy for the first time escaped the house through a hole in the kitchen and climbed up to the rooftop where a policeman found him. The police then searched inside the house as the boy mentioned about his grandmother.

Both of them are now in the hospital, although they are little weaken, they are in a good condition and reunited with the family.

Everyday more sad and terrible news are delivered from Japan to the world. But I want to repeat, most of Japanese people there, even under this circumstances, haven't given up. "Itsumo kokoro ni taiyou wo" (Have a sun in your heart) is the saying we say, means if you can smile in the worst situation, you can keep going, you won't get defeated. I saw another Japanese spirit today. 

21 Mar

Twitter Brings Aid to Devastated Area in Japan

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments

Friday on the 18th of March at 14:46 Japan time, people observed a minute of silence for all the loss and damages from the earthquake attacked Japan a week ago.



While people are paying attention to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in the devastated area 260,000 are still suffering from shortage of food, water or medicine.

ishinomakishort medicine










Japanese government on the 15th, decided to send Self-Difence Force to those devastated area to send them supply. They have cleared up Kamaishi port and a ship arrived finally before the weekend. First they supplied petro to fire engines and trucks to send rescue team and aid to the shelters. Besides this, they took food (of course), nappies, kerosene and medicines. However, this is still not enough.


twitter blankets


Menwhile twitter has become a great help in Japan.

The students a university in Tsukuba city in Ibaraki prefecture where is accepting people from devastated area  asked people aid through Twitter. The reaction was so quick that within 1 hour, they received about 600 onigiri. 


A councilor of the same city and the city itself asked blankets and cusions for them, and within 2 hours, they received about 250 blankets. 

twitter stops rush to buy

Some people are panicked and rush into the supermarkets to stock up food. So in twitter, someone has put this. It says "we can help by sharing" and shows for example, another 12 rolls of toilet paper you just bought can serve to 1,000 people in the shelters. This is true and effective, I think.



Actually when I first found out about this quake, I opened my twitter after long time and just put "please answer me". Soon, a friend from childhood responded, she also had found out other friends' safety. How relief it gave me!


Of course if they are in the devastated area, it doens't work but this type of social network is the biggest help in Japan at the moment, especially under the situation that the aid is coming from individual people and private volunteer groups.


Today was the day I really appreciate social network. Everyone says that they want to help whatever they can. Each little help becomes a big help at the end. I'm writing this to tell you all what is really happening in Japan and how they've been spending these days besides you see on the telly on your sofa.


18 Mar

What Is Really Happening in Fukushima Daiichi? – Learn From Nuclear Boy

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments

Entire world is paying attention to this human-made monster, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and TEPCO. We all irritated and frustrated with them for not being able to understand what is really happening there, but seeing American military is withdrawing to 80km away from the plant but not 30km.


The plant was supposed to retire a month ago but TEPCO extended the lisence for another year. Now they have to pay back but the price is sky high. We all know that. 


Now I can see four, at least three destroyed buildings of the rectors. Earthquake and Tsunami damage-Dai Ichi Power Plant, JapanI don't know who can think these buildings are recoverable. We are not physicists nor nuclear experts but it's quite obvious something went wrong.


Despite of our fear and concern, TEPCO kept saying "it's OK, under control, blah, blah."


Finally, a week after,  on the 18th March, special fireservice and Japanese Self-Defence Force managed to start putting the water into the fuel pool to cool down the fuel rods, and it seems to be working.


We still don't know if this is the ending of this nightmare or it continues.


This is a little video about Fukushima nuclear plant. It's easy to understand what is happening there and what they are trying to do. It was viewed more than 60,000 people during a week.


This video was made based on a Japanese media artist, Kazuhiko Hachiya's tweet.


18 Mar

Tokyo report 1- After The Earthquake

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan, news Tags: , 0 Comments

tokyo office

A huge earthquake shock Japan on the 11th of March. The fear continues since then. Not only successive aftershocks but other problems one after another.


I like to record all the incidents happening here in Tokyo, in Japan as much as possible.


One warm afternoon in March, suddenly the earthquake shock the island. It was just before 3pm when I felt something unusual in my office which is the last floor of the building.


First I thought it was me feeling rocked because of the tiredness. Then I realised it wasn't me.


I've never tried but it must feel like that if you stand on a jelly, those colourful ones the kids would eat. The office waved just like that.


Because we've been seeing the images of the buildings falling down in NZ during the quake, although it must've been much safer to remain inside the office, we all went outside. Perhaps even without the disaster in NZ, we would have been out anyway.


The instinct rushed me into running away as far as possible.


The director of the company himself was scared.

He directed us to go home then left the office first.

It gave me some sort of impression of our company's future…


In the meantime, I was still in the office, I mean I couldn't leave the office.

Japan is a country of earthquakes and well prepared but actually the big cities like Tokyo have less resistance. Trains and tubes had stopped immediately. I thought about getting a taxi but the streets were full of cars, all rushing to get home.


I had no choice other than staying in the office and watching TV news to get more information about the quake.

shibuya power save

… The images coming out from the screen gave me the confusion, as if it was like unrealistic Hollywood films done with lots of CG.




Sanriku coast near the seismic centre of this earthquake is famous for its beautiful saw-toothed coastline and is a popular touristic spot.However this time, that coastline became a deathblow as it actually increased the power of the tsunami.


The waves suddenly grew bigger and wiped out the cars (probably people too) parked in a parking tower. In the below level, streets and houses were being swallowed in a muddy stream in such a short time.


Was it a mass media spirit or simply they wanted higher audience ratings, all TV stations continued showing tragic images.

power save

Now I understand what terror exactly means…. this.


I was in Tokyo, more than 200km away from the seismic centre, and yet the fear crept up my body.


200-300 of dead bodies had been found on the shore, the news reported.

It was terrible enough to sacrifice, then the mayor of one the devastated cities announced…

“The victims will reach more than 10,000”.


I always think of the worst case of scenario.

When I heard 200-300 of death, I immediately thought of at least 10 times more of victims from the images showing on TV. I was stunned as if someone hit my head hard when I heard the mayor.


On the 17th of March, the number of victims are much higher than that mayor predicted, by today, more than 15,000 people are dead or missing.


I don't feel this real.

chaos train


I saw someone's  saying in his blog,

"Japanese people won't give up."


Many Japanese people would've been encouraged by his word.


Only if there was another menace waiting for us after tsunami….



More about 3.11

M8.8 quake attacked Japan

A year after in Japan

A year after the story of Japanese people

17 Mar

We Don’t Cry-Meaning of being Japanese in This Disaster

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 1 Comment

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear-plant explosion, the triple disaster has rocked Japan literally. 


Now all the world is concentrated on Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This is a huge problem but this is one of other problem. Meanwhile in the north, Touhoku region, people are waiting for the food, blankets or water, but they seem to be pushed aside before nuclear.

give us food sos


It's been nearly a week and Japanese government hasn't organized much about aids to the shelters. 

People have written "FOOD", "1000 BLANKETS" on the ground and hoping for the help.

Another thing is that on the TV we can see all horrible images of Tsunami and destroyed nuclear plants but hardly see individual face of the people in the shelter. There are many people longing to find out their family's faces and see them. But all we see is the interview with Tokyo Electricity or the Tsunami is wiping out Touhoku cities.



This is a comedian duo, Sandwich Man.

On the day of earthquake, they happened to be in Kesen-numa in Miyagi for a filming. They were lucky enough to go up to a higher place (about 250m) but what they saw soon after was infernal, they wrote after in their blog.

Now they are promoting to help people in Touhoku Area, not only collecting donation but also they speak what really needed in the devastated area. Before most of the TV stations only showed the aftermath, smashed houses, people being carried to the shelter or a woman standing with a lost look. All the images were the view as an outsider. Sandwich Man accused the government and TV station for slow support to Touhoku region and for not showing people's faces in the shelter.

Also they stress on the lack of information to public. Even about the evacuation, there is no specific information such as to where, how, about old people etc.. Both of those who are in the devastated area and are outside of the area are trying to get exact information. Even I am not sure what to believe…

listen to the radio


Sandwich Man's call is working. Now I see some TV stations has small sections in between the news and there people appear one by one to tell their worried family that they are safe or to ask people their missing family.


Today, on the 17th of March, Edano Chief Cabinet Secretary announced that finally they have started to take care of aid matter to Touhoku region. Now… isn't it a little late? Japanese Self-Difence Force is on the mission, has cleaned up some ports and roads for the aid ship to be able to come in. 


Japanese people are generally quite patient people and don't often express their feeling like Western people. Comparing to Latin people, we are almost emotionelss. Some people have asked me " in this terrible situation, why almost no one is crying?"

crying woman


Japanese people don't tend to cry when they are in a difficult situation but cry for relief, joy or for someone else.

This woman started crying when a volunteer handed her a sweet bread.


I saw in the news, an old woman started crying when she called out to a missing grandson who is 6 and is about to start primary school in April. She sobbed out that he has to be alive to go to the school because he waited it so long.


Even my mother who has been alone in the tilted house without gas or water for nearly a week says everyday that she is OK. Up to now, I haven't seen or hear people are complaining apart from the frustration towards unclear Tokyo Electricity. Japan is a collective society, this is one of the distinguished character of Japan. People live for all before one itself. Under the circumstances like this, people get together for recovery believing another miracle. They recovered from two atomic bombs, WWII, many earthquakes and tsunami, why not this time? 

washing foodqueue for food








In the devastated area, without much support from the government, people are helping each other. Children in group go to find some food from the mud and wash them. If there is a ration from the volunteers, people queue. None of them are fighting for their turn. Even in the hospital, people wait for their turn outside where the snow is falling.


queue for socksqueue for socks 2









This is the queue for pair of socks. Here is the same, people are waiting for their turn.

Robbery isn't common in the devastated area, even though they have no food, no one attacks the supermarkets. This is quite impressive. 

According to a psychologist, this is the characteristic of collective society. In this type of society people don't rob because they are suffering, but when their family or loving one starts suffer, it's possible that they rob for the family.


An old man broke in tears for those who couldn't survive.

16 Mar

All Together, Make 1000 Cranes!

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: 0 Comments

There is a girl in Madrid, Spain is asking for a help. It's not a big favor but a little help anyone can do to help Japan which just has been attacked by one of the biggest earthquake on the 11th of March.

That is making a Origami crane.



In Japan there is a legend of 1000 cranes. When someone is very sick or in a terrible situation like now in Japan, people make 1000 cranes with Origami wishing their recovery and send to the person or the place.

Now this girl Makiko is asking you all to make one crane each infolding your wishes to Japan, then take a photo of your crane and send it to this direction

If you don't know how to make a crane, you can see the instruction from the link on the right side of the page. "Las 1000 Grullas

Please send a photo of your crane. Let's send our hope to Japan. Do a minimum we can do. 



1000 Cranes for Japan




16 Mar

Current Status of Nuclear Safety in Japan reported by IAEA

Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan Tags: , 0 Comments

This is the current status of nuclear safety in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on the 15th of March reported by IAEA.

At the moment of the explosion of rector 4, the level of radioactive shot up to 400mm Sv however with the latest monitoring in the same day it went down to 0.6mmSv.

Japan is working on it, managing it despite of its difficulty and uncertainty.

Keep on eye on the report from IAEA.