Tsunami Survivor Fund to Save Miyagi
Mission Accomplished!.. for now!

Hello everyone and thank you all again very much!! Last week, I was able to pass over 300000 yen (roughly $3500) to the Minamisanriku Board of Education, all thanks to you and your kind donations. It was really a special moment for me personally to be able to see my co-workers again and give them a message in more than words that the world is still standing with them and still listening to their stories. They strongly appreciate this donation, and were surprised and grateful for the generousity of strangers. Once again, thank you so very much!!

Here I'm with Mr Haga, the Vice President of the Board of Education, handing over the donation.

The recipt showing where the money will be used - the education department.

Putting the donation in an 'omimai' envelope, a traditional way of giving money to express sympathy and support.

I was also interviewed by the local news paper about SaveMiyagi and my experiences in the town. I'm so thankful to be able to send out our message to everyone in the town.

I also got a chance to walk around the town of Shizugawa for the first time since the earthquake. The volunteers and workers have done an incredible job cleaning up, and while there is still a mountain of work to be done, it was still great to see the progess they have made. Here are some pictures---

The Disaster Preparedness building, where many officials lost their lives, including Miki Endo, the woman who announced the oncomming tsunami until the very last moment.

The park near where I used to live, which is now being used as a trash dump for all the wreckage.

Temporary housing up at Shizugawa Junior High School.

The damaged tsunami wall along the coast.

Messages of support from Minamisanriku's sister city in Chile, who they've been connected to ever since the earthquake in Chile 50 years ago sent a devistating tsunami to both places.

The new view from Shizugawa Junior High School. You can see how green it's become in the summer season. Still a long way to go.

But, it hasn't just been tours of damaged areas on the trip so far..

Chuusonji, a temple complex in Ichinoseki, about an hour inland of the coast, is undamaged and just as beautiful as always.

This couple in Kesnnuma have reopened their vegetable shop, despite their town having been so heavily damaged.

And students at Togura JHS, at last graduating!

On Friday, we'll head back to Ishinomaki with Peace Boat to start volunteering. I'm very exciting to start helping with my own two hands!

Thank you all so much for your support and continued interest. Though we've made a contribution now, I hope SaveMiyagi can continue to raise money and help the people of Minamisanriku, Miyagi, and Japan. THey will need help for a long time to come, and my connection to the people there will last a lifetime.

Ganbappe Japan!

Back to Japan!

Hi everyone!

I've safely made it to Japan, and yesterday I attended a memorial service for the student and teacher at Togura Junior High School, as well as the school's much belated graduation ceremony. It was great to see all the kids again and give them a proper graduation. We were able to hold it in their old school, which had suffered tsunami damage, but the teachers and volunteers had cleaned it up! 

It was my first time to that part of the town since the tsunami, and it was quiet a shock. For some reason, most of the debris had been carried back to sea, so there were far fewer standing structures than in Shizugawa. The debris that was left was starting to be overgrown by weeds, which made the whole disaster seem so much further in the past. 

I met briefly with my supervisor and we plan on discussing the SaveMiyagi money in the next couple of days, when I go back to visit Shizugawa proper. That will be my first time back there, and it should be very interesting. 

I'll post some pictures soon, and will have more information about SaveMiyagi's plans! 

Next, I'll visit Kesennuma and friends up north. 

Stay tuned. Thanks again for all your support!

Heading Back to Japan!

I apologize for the long time with no update! 

I'm excited to say that I've finally got my plans hammered down a pinch in terms of my trip back to Japan. My travel dates are July 28th to September 4th. Togura Junior High School will at last be holding their Graduation ceremony, and I'll be attending! 3 other friends and I will be visiting Minamisanriku and Miyagi, as well as other friends around Japan, and volunteering with Peace Boat and Second Harvest. I'll be bringing my laptop with me, so I'll be able to share our trip with everyone. 

Most importantly, I'll have a chance to speak with officials in Minamisanriku and find a place for all the funds you have generously helped raise! I'm very excited to help out and see the progress they have made. (World Blog has their own look into the progress. Read it here!)

In the mean time, please check out my friend Wesley's blog The Adventures of an ALT. He and another friend just got back from their volunteer trip and shared some of their experiences. You might know Wesley if you watched the Discovery Channel's MegaQuake TV episode. 

Some interesting links: 
Check out my friend Emily's AWESOME Tees for Japan website! The design is beautiful and sophisticated, and of course, it all goes to a good cause. 

Minamisanriku is planning to have a fireworks celebration this August, just like they have done in the past. They've asked for donations and you can read more here (in Japanese) or here (in English). I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to attend, but I'll hopefully get some pics of the preparation!

16 students from Miyagi, Fukushima, and Iwate will head to America. Some of Taylor Anderson's and Monty Dickson's former students will be in that number. I'm very excited for the cultural exchange on both sides! 

And, on the lighter side of things... 
Baird, Ishii and Stone Brewing Co have teamed up to make a Green Tea IPA to support Japan! Watch the Video! 

SO! Next update will come with some more details about the trip and then we'll be diving right in. 

Thank you all again for your continued support! 


A few events and a few articles

Hello everyone!

A few updates before I get to the big one...

Bay Area Artists are having a benefit next weekend, April 28th to the 30th. Please come and show your support for not only Japan, but for our talented and caring local artists! My sister Megan will be there to represent us. Check it out!!

Along the same lines, please check out Etsy artist Kenji's Light of Hope Sale, starting April 25th. All proceeds will go towards music therapy for survivors.

Etsy artists all over are coming together to help. Check out their teams here.

Once again, I've added more links and videos on the Links page. Here are the extra-special ones;

Our friends at Teachers for Japan received some press recently! Be sure to check them out! http://www.teachersforjapan.org/

Another GREAT relief effort has gone up, The Fruit Tree Project! Paul Yoo, an Akita Prefecture Jet, is personlly organizing an effort to get fresh fruit to the evacuation centers. While most centers have the basics of food handled, fresh fruit is in high demand! This is a wonderful, personal effort that is much needed. Please donate directly at their website before April 29th; they accept bank transfers for those in Japan, and paypal for everyone outside.

A few articles about Minamisanriku;

Miki Endo and another hero, Takeshi Miura, are still missing. They worked at their posts warning people of the tsunami until the very end.

Takahiro Inomata is working as the Volunteer Organizer at the Bayside Arena. His wife is still missing, however they have found a body that could be hers. He has been working without stop to organize and lead the volunteers, waiting for confirmation. He says that his wife was a hard worker, and if he didn't work hard too, she would be angry. (Article in Japanese)

Students in the evacuation centers have been working on cleaning, repairing, and assembling toy models for the relief effort. Go kids!! (Article in Japanese)

Maruuo Oikawa's fish shop is open for business! Shizugawa octopus is famous throughout Japan, and I know people will be so glad to taste it again.

And lastly, tantricdragon on Youtube has composed a song for Minsamisaniriku. It's a lovely tribute to the town, and I can only hope that they can rebuild to be an inspiration again.

New Links!

Hi everyone! The weather here in San Jose has taken a turn for the cold, but I'm holding out for Spring!

The big earthquake Thursday certainly shook things up, but the it looks like there wasn't any major damage. We're so thankful for that, and I wish mother nature would give Japan a break!

I have a big update coming for you soon, but please check out some of the interesting links I've found this week!

~We now have a FACEBOOK GROUP! Other members have already shared great events and links from around the globe. Please join!

~Our friends at Teachers for Japan now have a working paypal link! Please check out their website! We're working together towards a common goal of rebuilding for education!

~For those of you in the Bay Area, I have two great links for you! One is a list of Bay Area restaurants that are contributing to the relief effort. This is a great way to support Japan while treating yourself to some of the great food out here! So please, raise a glass to our friends!

~Also, for movie buffs, New People Entertainment is hosting a charity movie screening of Taste of Tea. Come and enjoy this Cannes Film Festival movies, all proceeds will go to the relief effort.

And now for some news stories connected to Minamisanriku--

Above the Tsunami.
This Japanese blog shows photos of the Mayor and others clinging to a building during the tsunami. The pictures are unbelievable.

This is the building from where Miki Endo announced the tsunami's approach. She is still missing and they believe she stayed on the loud speaker until it was too late. I remember hearing her voice clearly.

Japan quake's youngest victims cope through play. This article & video were taken in Tome, where Caitlin and my students have evacuated. It's such a relief to see their faces!

Lensman braved tsunami. Minamisanriku's very own Shinichi Sato! He's responsible for documenting the student's lives and making their yearbooks, and his eldest son was supposed to graduate the day after the earthquake. His family is well and his sons did him proud by helping everyone at the evacuation centers!

Japan Aid Delegation Members and Local Children Partake in Recreational Activities Together. The Israel Defense Force not only set up a fully functional field hospital in Minamisanriku, they are taking the time to play with the children at evacuation centers. They're shown playing here with Katie's students in Utatsu. So great!

I've just started going back to work for a couple days a week, which means I'll have plenty of time to keep SaveMiyagi going.

Please check back soon and thank you again for your continued support!


Great new Links!

Thank you letters

Hello everyone! I've just sent off a couple thank you letters for some very kind people! It's been great hearing people's support and curiosity about both SaveMiyagi and about the Tohoku area.

I've posted more links and a few more events, so please check them out! But I wanted to bring special attention to a couple.

Yahoo News has a great in-depth article about Minamisanriku, detailing the lives of a few citizens and their thoughts. I really encourage you to give it a read!

Denver Post has some amazing photos on their Photo Blog of Minamisanriku.

People on Facebook are making origami cranes to show their love and support of Taylor Anderson and other JETs.

I also found two very exciting and interesting news updates about Minamisanriku schools!

The first details the plans for Shizugawa High School and its students.  Basically, as Shizugawa HS is out of power/water, it and 3 other high schools in the Miyagi school district have been deemed unusable. Students from those schools will be moved to neighboring schools. The students from Shizugawa will be sent to schools in the inland town of Tome and officials will see if Shizugawa HS can be used in the future. The other schools will hopefully be rebuilt later on new sites.

The second details plans for the Togura Elementary and Middle School students.  Togura is a small part of Minamisanriku that was hit very hard by the Tsunami and both school buildings suffered damage. Caitlin Churchill was at Togura Middle school when the tsunami came and she and the students, teachers and towns people had to run into the hills. The article states that the students will all be transferred to local schools in Tome and hopefully be able to start classes again in May or summer. Officials will see if it's worth rebuilding the schools in the coming year. The article also states that Natori Elementary school students (in Utatsu, where Katie Oi lived) will share classes with Isatomae Elementary in Utatsu, which suffered minor damage from the tsunami.

Wonderful news that the students will be able to go back to school! Both articles stress that these choices were made based on the importance of students' education and their quality of life.

What it means for Save Miyagi is that our efforts may go towards rebuilding a school sometime down the line, even as late as next year. Or, if they choose not to rebuild the schools, we would focus our efforts on supporting students as they commute to school. I've contacted the mayor and my old supervisor at the Board of Education and asked them to direct us where we are most needed.

But I want to let all of YOU know that it is still very early and the last thing I want to become is a burden to them, so I've also stressed to them to take their time in responding. That means we may have more time to wait until we can act, but I want to reassure everyone that no matter what, we will put our full support behind Minamisanriku and Miyagi.

Thank you so much for reading and for all your support. I'm going to create a section soon to show off Minamisanriku and Miyagi BEFORE the disaster to give you all an idea of how lucky we were to have lived there.

Thanks again! Have a great weekend.


First Blog!

Hello everyone. Thank you so much for visiting Save Miyagi! We're currently working on the website to make it more user friendly and representative of our mission and of beautiful Miyagi.

Please check back soon for more updates, including information about the organization's activities, as well as information on my time in Minamisanriku.

In the mean time, check out the Links section, especially Teachers for Japan, a fellow organization dedicated to helping the students of the affected areas.

As for me personally, I am settling back at home after arriving in San Francisco last Wednesday. It's very good to be home, but I know my friends are still struggling. I'll keep you updated with their stories as well.

Thanks again!