This is an update for friends and family. Those of you who've been following this blog since it started in March will know that it's been a year of change for me personally, not just because of the disaster. In March we split the company, sold the box-making business to Rengo the industry leader, and carried on as a property management company. The box business moved off the Hoha-cho site east of Koriyama station to Rengo's old factory five miles away. I wear two hats: I have an honorary position with the box company, still called Tohoku Kogyo, and go there every day. My other job is managing the property company and a subsidiary.
Whilst the box business moved to a spacious factory and smart offices in September, Toshiaki and I remained in the old building. The crack on the stairs caused by the earthquake which I had had repaired in May re-opened with the aftershocks in June, and at the time of the typhoon in October water poured through the crack like a waterfall! We moved to a temporary office nearby but at last we've moved to 'proper offices' near the station.
We're on the 8th floor facing west. The immediate view is not pretty - a sprinkling of pre-war wooden houses, some 1960's down-at-heel concrete buildings, a monster of a derelict building that was once occupied by Daiei supermarket. But most of the land is given over to parking (aozora chushajo 青空駐車場 'blue sky parking lots'). Beyond, there are the mountains. Mount Adatara to the north and the summit of Mount Bandai to the west, with the weather creating an ever-changing landscape.
It's not a big office but very smart: we have new furniture, lots of storage space so it looks clean and efficient. The building's owned by an insurance company and the way the building is managed is an eye-opener. I hadn't realised that the management of office buildings is a whole industry. There's a form for everything. In our office of two we have had to split the required responsibilities. I have overall responsibility and am in charge of recycling and sorting of refuse. (Note: 'in charge'. We have cleaners.) Toshiaki is in charge of fire, crime, and is the day to day contact.
The toilets are beautiful. The lights go on when you enter and the toilet flushes automatically. And the best thing of all - for the first time in many years, I don't have to clean them!
Coming out of the building on Saturday evening after the move, life seemed good. The area round the station was bright with Christmas illuminations (well done, Urara from Edison) and the streets were full of people. It's the bonenkai season (忘年会 year end, literally 'forget the year' party) and people are out having a good time. We have anxieties about the future but at last life seems normal again.
Goodnight from a cold and windy Koriyama,