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Japan Photo Charity

You have to admire the resilience and dignity with which the Japanese people are dealing with the current crisis caused by the earth quake, tsunami and now the nuclear reactor. It is horrible to watch human suffering, but I feel it is worse to watch and do nothing about it. To that end, I would like to help out in my small way. I am offering to give 100% of the profits from any sales of my photos from now through the end of March to Doctors Without Borders. If you want to know how they are helping, please check out the their website. To purchase prints, click on the "Buy" button above.

My younger bother spent a year studying in Japan and still keeps in touch with the friends he made during his stay. Those friends are thankfully safe and they have been sharing some of their experiences and feelings with him throughout this disaster. There is a common theme of solidarity and hope in all of their stories. Here is a brief collection of posts from Japanese people regarding the crisis:

UN Secretary General, said, “Japan is one of the most generous and strongest benefactors, coming to the assistance of those in need the world over. In that spirit, the United Nations stands by the people of Japan and we will do anything and everything we can at this very difficult time.”

* On a platform
I’m twittering from the platform of Oedo Line heading for Hikari Gaoka. The platform is overcrowded. Actually, many can’t even get onto the platform and are waiting outside the ticket gate. But there is order. We are forming perfect lines. There is no partition rope but we leave room for people to walk through. Everyone is following instructions given by station staff. There is absolute order and calmness here, almost surreal in this situation. I am amazed by these people’s mental strength.

* Morning announcements
Employees gathered for morning announcements and this was said… “Whatever happens, we are in a position of responsibility. Let’s not show anxiety and welcome our customers with confidence to make them feel safe.” I was a bit moved. Let’s do this. Store is opening!

* A station employee
Tokyo Metro extended its hours of operation and operated throughout the night. I thanked one of the station employees and he replied with a smile saying, “It’s our duty and we are proud to serve when our services are most needed!” THANK YOU. YOU TOUCHED MY HEART.

*At the train station
I saw little kids telling a train station staff, “Thank you for doing your best to keep the train running yesterday.” The staff was crying. I cried big time, too.

* At a jammed crossing
I was driving home after the quakes. Streets were extremely jammed and at many crossings only one car could cross the street per green light. At a spaghetti crossing, all traffic was paralyzed for more than 5 min. All drivers, I encountered, waiting to cross streets were calm, giving way to others. All thru my 10 hr driving, I didn’t hear any honking except those showing gratitude to others. Of course this travel was scary but also heart warming. This experience made me like Japan all the more.

* Homeless People
Transport facilities were dead and I was so tired waiting so long. Then, a homeless guy gave me a cardboard saying “use this, it can warm you up”. I used to pass homeless people by even when they were begging…

* Artists
Many artists are painting and drawing to encourage people this time. Everybody is trying to do something they can do.

* Bakery
In the middle of the night, I was walking home from college. A lady at a bakery was giving out bread. She kept her bakery open till late hours and was doing what she could do to help others. I was so touched. Tokyo is still not a bad place to live! Such a heart-warming scene.

* Proud of Japan
I feel proud being Japanese. Everyone, either in the public or private sector, is trying to help each other so sincerely. I’ve heard truck drivers are offering help to transport needed goods to the affected areas. I’ve even heard yakuza mafias are volunteering to direct the traffic in Tohoku. I had been losing pride in this country recently, but I was wrong. Japan is such a great country with great people. I have been amazed by the goodwill of the Japanese people. Let us keep our spirit high and keep up the good work.

* At a supermarket
I was moved when I saw most people showed consideration for others by NOT buying more than what they absolutely need for the time being. Their act of conscience brought tears to my eyes.

* Everybody
I talked to a cab driver, a station master, and an elderly lady. They all couldn’t go home and were really tired, but showed no sign of stress in our conversations. They actually showed concern for me. I’m touched by everyone looking out for one another by realizing that “everyone is having a hard time.” This is the part of Japanese culture that I want to inherit and treasure.

* Keeping the door open
After all the news about trains suspending service, I was determined to walk home. I was heading west on Koshu Kaido Avenue, one of the major streets in Tokyo. There was an office building along the way, which kept its door open even around 9 at night. Who seemed to be an employee of that company was speaking aloud to those of us who had to walk long distance home, that their office was offering a space to rest and its restrooms were available. I was so moved and almost cried

* Free coffee
My husband walked for 4 hours to come back home. He was feeling weak at Akabane and this man offered free coffee saying “It’s pretty cold huh? Warm up with this hot coffee!” Thanks to him, my husband regained the strength to keep walking. It must have really touched him because he’s been repeating the story 5 times. Thank you to the man passing out free coffee.

*We’re closed today
One of our fellow part time workers is from the afflicted area of Tohoku region. My brother told one of the staff to tell him that he didn’t need to come to work today. That staff called him and said, “Hey, the store’s closed today. ”I was so moved by how he rephrased the message. That’s truly an example of consideration for others.

*Pray for Japan!
Cry! I was so touched I cried super hard! That international call from a stranger just now, it was a phone call of worry and support from someone who called their own number, except with Japan’s country code hoping to connect with someone in Japan! I didn’t quite understand the English, but I understood what the person was trying to say! S/he said a lot of people over there are “praying for Japan”!

*Everything’s alright
An American student living in the Chiba prefecture got on CNN. “I got in a panic, but Japanese people around me were different. They remained calm and gave each other considerate words. Check in on others to see everyone’s alright, cheer, and help each other. They were great. Japan will be alright.” The CNN reporter hoping to hear about panic was sort of disappointed…

*Unrivaled effort
I was so touched by the outstanding news that Japan Self-Defense Forces rescued almost 10,000 people from the disaster site. I had an opportunity to talk with the one who lives in Fukushima. He told me about the unrivaled effort of them. He said “people witnessed several of members of the Self Defense Forces carried 4 old people at a time, 2 on his back and 1 on each arm. Carrying 4 people at a time and run – they keep doing that without
enough eat and sleep. And there’s a smile on their face.”

* When I was young…
One day, I will tell my children and grandchildren. “When I was young, there was a huge earthquake. All the world united and helped each other. People’s feeling of goodwill was shining all over.”

My father is going to be dispatched on a mission to the atomic power plant of Fukushima. I was close to crying when I heard that he volunteered for the mission, even though he retires in 6 months. “What we do now navigates the future of atomic power plant. I’m going there with a sense of responsibility.” He has been rather unreliable type at home, but… I couldn’t be prouder of him. I hope he’ll get back safe and sound.

* Okaerinasai=Welcome back!
O … Osanai (Don’t push)
Ka … Kakenai (Don’t run)
E … Egao wo wasurenai (Don’t forget to smile)
Ri … Riso wo sutenai (Retain the vision)
Na … Naite Stress hassan (Cry and release the stress)
Sa … Sayonara ha Iwanai (Never say goodbye)
I … Ikinobiru (Survive!)

I am certain that Japan’s rich culture will endure this crisis and emerge stronger for it. In the mean time, our thoughts go out to everyone affected.

About this Photo
This photo was taken during my trip through Japan with my brothers a few years ago. We were making our way North and had stopped at Kyoto for a couple of days to get to know the city. During one outing we walked through the Geisha District where all these mysterious ladies dwell. They are surprisingly hard to find and even when you do, you have to stay sharp because they disappear as quickly as they appear.