JAPAN: In Review

It’s that time of year again. New Year’s is the biggest holiday on the Japanese calendar, and as it approaches Japanese TV is full of “talent” (celebrities with no actual, recognizable talent) reflecting on the year that has passed.

And it’s been an awful one for everyone in eastern Honshu.

So I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the things I am thankful for thus far in 2011:

-I’m thankful we didn’t die in the earthquake on March 11. For two or three minutes there, I wasn’t so sure.

-I’m thankful my son was home with the flu that day. So many children ended up spending the night at school and daycare because their parents were unable to come home from work. Not to mention the parents who never came, or the children who never made it home from school. (more…)

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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NEW ZEALAND: Christchurch: Looking Forward One Month After the Quake

NEW ZEALAND: Christchurch: Looking Forward One Month After the Quake

At 4.35am, on the 4th September 2010, the city of Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale.

It’s epicentre was close to the township of Darfield, 40 km (25 miles) west of Christchurch. There was widespread damage and power outages, two people were seriously injured and one person died from a heart-attack during the quake.

Originally I wrote here: anyone who lives along the Pacific Ring of Fire might have thought, “that could have been us.”  90% of all the world’s earthquakes and 80% of  all major earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire, which extends from New Zealand through Indonesia and the Phillipines, through Japan along the Aleutian Islands and along the west coast of the Americas.

Then, on the 11th of March just off the coast of Japan a huge (8.9 )earthquake hit. The tsunami it triggered killed at least ten thousand people, and injured many more. It caused massive damage to the northeastern coast of the country. Perhaps more than anyone else in the world, people in Christchurch understood and empathised. (more…)

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

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