Monday 21 March 2011

Day Eleven

Dear Friends
This rolling stone gathers moss, in fact I hear I've 'gone viral', a phrase that threw me into a panic. I've been away from God's own country so long I thought I must be infecting you all with some nasty electronic bug but son Tom assures me it's a good thing. So I will press on.

Rain today. Not good. The TV tells those in the 30 km zone to wear raincoats and use an umberalla to protect against the rain. You then put them into a plastic bag which you leave outside. Apparently you can use them again. And if you get rain on your skin, you're to wash it off.  Of course we're all following this advice even though we're 56 kms away.

Things were looking up at the reactor but about 5 pm they announced 'white smoke' at Unit 3. Still no details.

All shipments of milk from the prefecture have been suspended and spinach banned from four prefectures. Water just outside the 30 km zone has been found to have traces of radiation (not in dangerous amounts) so I'm back on bottled water. Only 6 two litre bottles left so that's going to be a challenge.

I took a little walk today. Over to the station. Yodobashi Camera open but the station and all its shops closed (including the Koriyama branch of Lush). Then took a bus to the City Gymnasium. The buses are running as are the taxis (taxis run on LPG). Hamatsu Hotel coffee shop was open and Otomo Bakery but the Seibu Mall was closed. I went to the Gym to have a radiation test. There were about 30 officials dressed from head to toe in white, and only a trickle of customers. I had a geiger counter passed all over me (a bit like an airport security check) and both myself and the bottle of water from the company tap I'd taken with me were deemed safe. And I've got a piece of paper to prove it!

Back to the company and a phone call from the 'shacho' (CEO) of the construction company that built our offices 40 years ago. He'd just got my e-mail and came right over. He's going to send experts over tomorrow but his initial verdict is that the building is reasonably safe: it will not collapse in the event of another force 6. But there are cracks on the outside of the building and a major aftershock might make plaster on internal walls crumble and light fittings  fall to the ground. He said staff should evacuate the building when there are aftershocks. Today, for the first time, we've had no strong aftershocks.

An old friend, former boss from Tokyo Embassy days, tells me he supports a Cornish based charity Shelterbox. If you want an outlet at this time, it seems a good cause. This is what he says, 'Shelterbox provides brilliant 10 person emergency boxes which contain all-weather tents, thermal blankets, wood burning stoves and water-purifying kit. They had a team on the ground within 24 hrs and 600 boxes are on their way. They have a link with the Rotary Club of Japan which must be a great help. It occurred to me that those of us in the UK who have been reading Anne's emails from Koriyama and now her blog might want to visit the ShelterBox website at  With the help of the embassy they seem to be doing a very effective job in Tohoku and working with the system rather than against it. They are based at Helston in Cornwall and are thus a UK entity. If you want to donate there is a button on the website. They rely entirely on public donations.'  Thank you, Tony.

Office staff back tomorrow so should have more information about what's going on further afield.
Love to you all
Koriyama, music capital (of the north)

Clock at the station, stopped 10 mins after the quake

Queue for the bus to Aizu Wakamatsu. Funny, no one's going to the coast (left)

Radiation test

Convenience store


  1. Yes Shelterbox are great, efficient and quick...

    Glad to see some pics, take some of your company too.... May be a group shot of your staff for all of us will cheer them up..


  2. Hi Anne
    Great to read your blog. We've been thinking about you a lot so it was great to get the link from Reiko.

    It sounds as though you are coping fantastically.

    Much Love

  3. Nice photos. They make it more real. I'm surprised that most people look reasonably normal outdoors. Just the mask, which aren't that uncommon in Japan anyway...

  4. Your blog is very interesting... reading it in NH,USA... was sent to me by a mutual friend. We have been heartbroken when watching the pictures on TV, and are all praying for everyone there who has been affected by this horrific event.
    Keep up your spirits!

  5. It's nice seeing the photos. It's reassuring to see that some things haven't changed! I get the distinct feeling that things will get back to normal in Koriyama soon....ish

  6. Hi Anne -

    It's Andrew here, Arthur's son. Very good to read your blog and get a sense of how something of a normal routine is being restored.

    Take care