The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival became the Nashville Cherry Blossom Japan Relief Event! In light of recent events, many vendors offered to put part or all of their proceeds towards relief efforts in Japan, and there were many ways to donate.
The only foreign consulate here in Tennessee is one for Japan, and we’re proud to have it!
Saturday happened to be a very cold and somewhat rainy day. I only got to go to the event for a couple hours and didn’t get to see many performances (I had been really hoping to see taiko), but I saw that so many people showed up! The event was a great success, as also noted on its Facebook page. By the way, I suggest you check that out, as many people have posted photos there that are better than what I was able to get (though nonetheless I will fill this post up with my pics!). I was happy to have been there! So nice!
I didn’t get many photos (I need to get better at this whole photography thing), but I think the ones I did get capture the spirit of the event. For example…
People in kimono!
Adorable robotic baby seals?!
I’m glad that we could all come together to help and celebrate Japan, and Japan’s connection to Tennessee! I hope it’s nice and sunny next year.
(I made this sand garden, too! I was feeling out of it, so it's kind of boring.)
I actually have a lot of articles planned right now, all lying dormant due to a momentary dip in language-studying momentum and real-life happenings. Yet all those things pale in face of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami which has rocked northern Japan.
Last Thursday I went to bed at a decent time, for once. At that point, all I had heard was of a relatively light earthquake in Japan a day or so earlier, which I hoped to be the most of it (I thought something big had already happened). I would wake up and see a frantic Twitter and news of a much bigger earthquake at hand, destruction in Sendai and nearing areas abounding; friends worrying about family; movie-like images streamed and posted on Youtube which were, in fact, real.
Japan is basically on one giant fault, so they're pretty prepared for things like this, but STILL.
Nature was taking a big toll on Japan, with aftershocks left and right, and even a volcano erupting, and in the meantime some seriously idiotic things have been said (I just want to be clear — I don’t tolerate this; these people should be branded for life for their brazen stupidity). In the wake of it all, nuclear happenings at the Fukushima nuclear plant as a result of the quake/tsunami are getting everyone tense; some say it’s really bad, and others say it’s not nearly as bad — no one’s quite sure who to believe. (Though, I think since I began writing this, the Japanese have kind of gotten angry with the sensationalistic news reporting.) At this moment, the nuclear topic is still being discussed fervently. It has even gotten the Emperor to address the people directly on TV for the first time.
I didn’t blog about all this right away because honestly, I have no idea what to say — many Japan bloggers, news outlets, and others have been relentless in their coverage and are doing the best they can for it, and amazingly so. The news gets out there, quickly and in a big way (dominating all top trending topics on Twitter on the 11th), and surely I can do no better to spread news or add anything than English speakers in Japan themselves. All I could do was sit at my computer gawping; here I was making sure some of my newly-acquainted friends residing in Japan were okay (they are, for the most part), which didn’t take long, and watch various news streams throughout the day on Friday and parts of Saturday, checking in on them whenever I could afterward. Others were panicking about friends and family, JETs and others in Japan. Though, for my own reasons, I, too, was very shaken. I watched Obama address the situation on TV, wondering how it would all pan out.
My main Twitter account’s dashboard is still abuzz with news, for which I am thankful; the Twitter dashboard for this blog’s account is still running with news, so much so that it’s hard to discern immediately what is accurate when something is immediately reported (many tweets without source links). I had never seen information roll out quite like this before, and especially not for a country like Japan.
I don’t like making reactionary posts. It’s against my nature, and doesn’t fit with what I do (I could never be a news reporter). So, I’ve been sitting on this article for over a week. I feel as though I can’t continue blogging until I at least acknowledge what happened. And I wanted to do that justice.
One good thing is that this earthquake really isn’t as bad as it could have been…but it’s still pretty awful. I actually admire the preparation involved and the resolve of the people over there. Even more, another good thing is how forthcoming people have been in donating, even in hard economic times. I feel I owe a lot to Japan; besides just loving the culture, it has shaped a good chunk of my life, even indirectly. I was playing Japanese games before I even realized it, games which made an impact on my life and the way I think; Japanese comics opened me to a world where comics were, in fact, not niche in and of themselves. Such creations, culture, and more have inspired me in a powerful way, as they have many others. It’s undeniable, something I embrace openly. It’s really the kind of inspiration I certainly can’t shake off and leave neatly in a boxed past. So, I feel as though I should do something.
What I can do, at least, is link to some of the best sources of news/resources/visuals that I keep referring to over the past weeks.
Resources relating to this incident
How to help without donating (Tofugu)
Google Person Finder
KeyHole TV for live Japanese television
Al Jazeera English
Also, my lists on Twitter follow accounts with lots of information still coming up.
How to give DIRECTLY to Japan
GlobalGiving caught my eye early on, both because it accepts Paypal as a payment method (a big factor for me, as I avoid using credit) and because its founder is Japanese. It has given updates on how the money’s being used so far.
Art for Japan, in which I will be participating, and will probably make another post about soon.
Aftershock: Artists Respond to Disaster in Japan
CFSL Tsunami Project
Al Jazeera English
I would advise against watching the American all-day news networks. Any of them. Ever.
Artists of JUMP send messages of hope
Badass of the Week – Hideaki Akaiwa (for diving into a tsunami to save his wife)
Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival: now the Nashville Cherry Blossom Japan Relief Event, where you can donate directly to Japan through the Tennessee Tomodachi Fund. It’s this weekend, and I’m going to it. (More info here, too.)
Information about how radiation works to help quell fears related to any lack of knowledge/rumors you may have
Video (under cut)