Saturday 7 January 2012

And a Happy New Year!

Hi everyone,
Sorry about the long silence. I've been enjoying myself with my daughter. Spent Christmas with friends in Tokyo, then five days here in Koriyama, ending with 3 days in Ura Bandai where we skiied for two days then walked the Goshiki Numa (Five Pools) trail. Didn't expect it to be passable but people had walked it and we did all four and a bit kilometres in the thick snow. Beautiful.

I'm ashamed to say I didn't feel the earthquake at 2.30 pm on New Year's Day. Force 4 in Tokyo, force 3 in Koriyama. Reiko's Twitter was going mad.

Back to work yesterday. The New Year started at the box company with us all standing outside in the freezing cold in front of the Shinto shrine. Shinto priest brought in specially. Getting good at this. Two deep bows, two claps, one bow. Strong whiff of fish when you get near the altar.

One of our youngest factory hands was the centre of attention. He'd been on nationwide televison on 28 December in a programme about radiation. His wife and two small kids are in Sapporo in Hokkaido. I don't know how he does it on his salary but it turns out that two of our staff have evacuated their families there. Rent is provided for two years by an NPO. And he'll be helped by a new fund administered by the prefecture which is to provide travelling expenses for volountary evacuees. 25,000 at the last count. Still it must be hard. His wife was saying the kids hadn't seen him since August.

The day before, January 4th, attended the New Year Party of the Koriyama Chamber of Commerce. 1,500 people, 20 women at most. But don't let's go into that. The governor was there. Told us about his plan for the recovery announced end of  December and asked all those present to do their bit. So far so good. It was when he said, 'so that in 20 or 30 years time Fukushima will see a marvellous recovery', that the scale of the task became evident. How many people in that room will be around in 20 or 30 years time?

This is the Year of the Dragon, tatsudoshi  辰年, in Japanese. Most New Year speeches seem to make a play on the word tatsu for it also means 'stand up, arise', in a kind of  morale boosting exercise. I'm told that historically the stockmarket does well in dragon years so here's a toast to the New Year. It can't be worse than last year that's for sure.
Keep smiling. More later.

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