Sunday, 20 March 2011

Fund focus, how you can take part, some links & family update

Dear All,

As promised, here is the plan.

This fund will be directly related to helping people in Hitachi Naka City and the surrounding areas within the Ibaraki prefecture with repairs needed on roofs and structural elements of their homes.  The beneficiaries will be families with incomes less than the median household income in Japan.

The intention of this fund will be to move from 1 project to the next and in this we will hope that we can provide you all with a more intimate look at the people that are directly benefiting from the help that you give.  The first project will be Mayumi's home.  Please know that we have every intention to move beyond just this one and will be working tirelessly to identify more families in similar situations.  Stay tuned.

To be a part of this you can contribute by emailing us at  We will send you a personal email with a bank account in either US or Hong Kong.  Please know that this is a grass roots effort and it is our first that we have administered.  I believe that most of you that may contribute know me personally and know that I would not do anything other than be fully transparent with you.

We are also aware of scams out there and please know this is not one of them.  Here are some articles and also some large scale charities in case you feel more comfortable contributing to them.

Investigation on scams:

Legit charities:

Hitachinakacity information:

Family update:

The 6.1 quake that you may have read about did in fact hit their area but according to my family, it was minor.  There has been so many aftershocks since this big one that everybody seems to used to it.  Hard to relate to that but that is what they said.

Their days have been consisting of going to the grocery store which is just 1 table and waiting on line for the daily water amount which takes about 90 minutes.  They still go to the neighbor for additional water from the well.   The government has been calling every house and tomorrow, Dad will go to visit them to learn about what help the Govt will provide.

Although we have only been hearing about orderly society, it seems there has been some reports of people syphoning gas from tanks due to the long lines at the gas station.  Hopefully this next week there can be a better picture.  Things seem to be stabilizing at the Dai Ichi Plant, the roads are starting to get some of the basic repairs for cars to get around which means that deliveries can start again.  Lets just keep hoping for the best.

Thanks for staying in touch,


Saturday, 19 March 2011

A 6.1 hit Ibarakiken Prefecture last night


Not much as reported here on the 6.1 that registered last night.

We will come back to you shortly with some information on how it may have impacted the area we are writing about.



Thursday, 17 March 2011

Update - some pics of the house


I have been pressured by some of you to come up with a plan on how to help out this community.  Sorry that it has taken so long.  We believe that while it is important to help as soon as possible, we need to keep things in perspective and think that the 2nd round of help will be equal or more needed than what we are seeing to date.  We see a lot of support to the large organizations such as the charities I mentioned in an earlier blog but just think that once the community can really identify what they really need (whether it be food, supplies, money or other forms of aid), we can be specific and deploy some help.  Despite this, we will have a way that some of you can start sending money and we will make sure that 100% of what is received will go directly to Mayumi's family and community.  

This weekend we will:

1)  Have a way for you to contribute thru a bank.

2)  Make sure that we have a local tie in to her community center.

Family update is that everybody is just uncomfortable but healthy.  There is no running water and it was told that this will not improve for 2 weeks.  Each person is entitled to 2 liters of water a day.  My Father in Law (Katsumi) went to a neighbor who had a well.  So they had a little more  than normal.  It is amazing when you think of all the things we need water for.  Without it the following are limited or are not happening...baths, cleaning (clothes, dishes, homes, etc).  The gas stations are really full and it takes hours to wait in line.  Essentially things are at a bare minimum.  Electricity works so people are staying tuned.

A friend asked us what kind of food is available?  Most of what everybody is relying on is canned goods and ramen noodles.  It is difficult to get fresh food right now.

I managed to get some pictures for you.

Here is a picture taken before the earthquake:

Here are some pics that I just received today.  They show the types of damage they are coping with and may not do justice to the overall but the key concern is the roof damage inlight of the possible radiation as well as the foundation of this house.  As said, the 2nd floor is not livable from what I have heard.  The wall that is in front of the house here is what you will see in the following pictures.

Thanks for staying in touch.


Good ol Google Maps - Distance is further than 40 to 50 KM


I am slightly relieved.  In all this journalism about distances to Daichi with Japan saying 20 KM evacuate 20 to 30 KM stay in the house and the US State Department saying to evacuate if you are within 50 miles to  the plant.  Well, good old google maps has calmed us a bit.

I just did a measurement as the crow flies from the Daichi power plant to Mito/Hitachinaka City and it is approximately 120 KM.  I think my family has been estimating to the border of Fukoshima Prefecture. 

Regardless if we are dealing with a measurement from the US State Department or the Japan Government, we are currently in the clear for now.

The following map's key was removed but every inch is about 50 KM so this distance is about 120 to 125 km as the crow flies.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Hiro is a Hero / Home assessment & pictures / some useful websites

Hiro is a Hero:  So Hiro who hasn't been around to date comes from nowhere and arrives at his family house and starts to help clear the debris.  His wife Keiko was also fantastic as she brought some onigidi (rice balls with meat in side) with her and everybody had some nice food.  Hiro was involved in removing the lose stones and cinder block in the wall that was built between the neighbors house.  He also worked with everyone to assess ways to remove some of the broken elements of the house.

Keiko Chan's cousin is an archetect and came as well to do some temporary water proofing.   This couldn't have come at a better time as, there was some rain later that afternoon which turned to a light snow.  Later in the afternoon, they were visited by the fire department to check on the foundation of the house.  This was apparently very difficult to schedule and Mayumi's father, Katsumi has been after them all day longs.  They came and assessed the house, they said that the house was not stable but they couldn't tell for sure.  I am not sure how helpful this visit was.

Nobody is sleeping or visiting the 2nd level of the house to be safe.  Currently Katsumi, Yuki, Yukari ) and Noa (daughter of Yukari) are all sleeping on the lower level which comprises 3 bedrooms, 1 living area and 1 kitchen.  Here is a pic I took in the past few years...

Who is Hiro?  Hiro is Mayumi's 2nd youngest brother (#4 in the pecking order).  He is an engineer by day for Hitachi and family man at night.  His son, Haruto is now 6 years old.  He is not around much but when he is, his impact has always felt as seen above.

Today we tried to find out a way to send some food to them but the area they are in is not accessible for delivery by the Japanese transportation companies.

I managed to find some pictures I took a few years ago on their home.  Today we were told they took pics from their phone but then tried to get it from their digicam but had no batteries.  Here are 12 pictures that will give you a pretty good idea of their home before the earthquake.

Here are a few websites I found of the immediate area that may give you some insight.  Each person in Hitachinaka City is allowed 2 litres of water daily.  Highways are all down except emergency vehicles.

The nuclear situation seems to be accepted by the local community to be what it is.  Mayumi's family is  not in a danger zone at the present time and while it does concern us to no end, they are safe from harms way.  The nuclear power plants seem to be stabilizing from what we are reading but we are far from being out of the woods.  Having said that, who the hell knows.   There are some serious contradictions out there and I don't know who to believe.  Mayumi and I just watched this report from the FT which we think is a reliable source and found this Science editor to be completely clueless on what he is talking about.  Take a look for yourself...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Ways to help


I wanted to write a special blog on a few options that you may want to consider.  What I am hopeful for is that I can come back to you with a local charity to directly benefit this community and her family but I have yet to identify one.  There are a lot of people that need help so here are a few reputable sites to consider:

  • American Red Cross:

  • Here is where the Hong Kong Japan Club and Chamber are sending donations to:
    • Worldvision Hong Kong:
    • Salvation Army:

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo Paper):

As said, I am committed in the near future to identify a charity to this direct community.  Please stay tuned.



Long day today with some hope, last brother accounted for


Today was an emotional roller coaster.  For those in this time zone, we watched the day start by the Prime Minister expand the affected area around Fukoshima from 20 km radius to a 30 km radius.  That meant that our family was close.  We had spoke with them and they were concerned.  We considered our options....1)  Fly the whole family to Hong Kong; 2)  Move them south; 3)  Have them stay put.

We checked on flights to Hong Kong which were circa 54,000 Yen or about US$600 one way.   In our efforts to connect with everybody, we asked ourselves on what we would do and realized that we would have probably stayed put.  In 2003, we were here thru Sars which was a very uncertain time but we survived and they will too.  By the end of the day, we received this report which is promising....Thanks Dickie.

Japan Nuclear update
BCCJ Members Update on Japan’s Nuclear Power station situation At 5pm Tokyo time (Tuesday 15th March 2011) a telephone briefing was given by Sir John Beddington the UK’s Chief Scientific adviser and Hilary Walker Deputy Director Emergency Preparedness a...t the Department of Health. “Unequivocally, Tokyo will not be affected by the radiation fallout of explosions that have or may occur at the Fukushima nuclear power stations.” The danger area is within the 30 kilometer evacuation zone and no one is recommended or will be allowed to enter this area other than those people directly involved with the emergency procedures currently being undertaken at both Fukushima 1 & 2. Sir John went on to answer a series of questions including a comparison between Chernobyl and Japan. He said “they are entirely different, Chernobyl exploded and there was a subsequent fire with radioactive materials being launched 30,000 ft into the air. The maximum height of any Fukushima explosions would be no more than 500 metres." “The radiation that has been released is miniscule and would have to be orders of 1,000 or more for it to be a threat to humans” This was confirmed by Hilary Walker. He went on to say that the Japanese authorities are doing their best to keep the reactors cooled and that this is a continuing operation. All workers on site dealing with the emergency are being fully decontaminated at the end of each shift. When asked on how reliable was the information coming from the Japanese authorities as to radiation levels he said “this cannot be fabricated and the Japanese authorities are positing all the readings on the recognized international inforamton sites which they are obliged to do. Independent verification shows that the data provided is accurate”. In answer to a specific question from the Head of the British School in Tokyo, Sir John Beddington and Hilary Walker said that there was no reason at all for the school to be closed unless there were other issues such as power outages and transport problems. David Fitton, First Minister at the British Embassy in Tokyo moderated the teleconference and confirmed that a transcript of the brief. AMAZING NEWS!!!!

I googled Hitachinakacity earthquake and here are the pictures of the immediate area:

Clearly if there is another earthquake which we understand may happen any time, this could change things.

Other updates:

Yuki...We got a hold of Yuki.  He wants us to send food. He is hungry and the rationed food supply is not a lot.  This was troubling to us.  We couldn't think of how to get some food to him.  We will continue to try tomorrow.

Hiro...Hiro is back in the fold.  He is going to the family house and neighborhood tomorrow and take some pictures.  Stay Tuned...

School starts Friday.

We got the paper and they had an death/missing/injury/collapsed houses report. Fortunately Ibaraki has among the lowest injuries but for some reason they received the most collapsed homes in Japan.  As you can see, Tokyo wasn't affected too badly.




             Broken Homes
785 1049 324 826
Fukoshima  420 997 220 10,981
Ibaraki  19 0 648 19,332
Tokyo 7 77 253
Source:  Yomiori Shimbun (15 March  2011)

Thanks once again to you all for reading this and keeping up on this perspective.


Monday, 14 March 2011

Now the stories are coming out

Hello again.  I just finished my work day and have been collecting stories all day long.  First off..there was a magnitude 5 earthquake in Ibarakiken today.  Everything was alright fortunately.  

I promised you some pictures.  I don't have anything gory like you are seeing in every news paper nor do I have anything on the state of their home town.  I do however have some pictures of some of the folks I have been writing about.  He said that he won't go to the dangerous places for the sake of a blog as his life is more important.  He had a funny sense of humor but did say that he would try to get us some pictures soon.   

This is Mayumi's father, Katsumi, and my children Benji (little one) and Joseph (bigger one).  This was taken last Summer on our last visit.  

Here is a picture of (from top left to right)...Mayumi, Mayumi's Mom..Emiko, Brian (me), Joseph, Benji, Brother Yoshikazu and son Shintaro.  Lastly is Ahmed who is Emiko's 2nd Husband.  Note that the red framed glasses were the ones that Yoshikazu broke.  He mentioned they were his favorites and apparently hasn't taken them off for an entire year.

So now that everybody has been properly fed, their sense of humors are coming back and they have been sharing with us where they were when earthquake hit.  Here is a quick update:

  • Emiko was in their second hand shop which is on the 1st floor of their home.  All the shelves have fallen and most of their merchandise has been destroyed.  Ahmed was at work and raced home. 
  • Yukari (Mayumi's sister) was in the grocery store.  She told us today that the ceiling fell in, the shelves were spilling and she thought that she was going to be trapped in there.  She seems to be a little better this last day but  that the experience was why she has been so exhausted.
  • Katsumi (dad) was working in an electric store and was busy clocking his time card when it hit.  
  • Yoshikazu - I stand corrected as he was in his office.  He said everybody was trying to keep all the items on their desks from falling off.  His son Shintaro told my kids today that this was the scariest thing he ever experienced.
Mayumi has 2 other brothers.  Yuki who is 23 and works at the fish counter at the local grocery store and Hiro who is an engineer for Hitachi.  Yuki lives with his father and was the one sleeping in the car.  He for some reason has stopped coming home.  He probably is staying with someone as the house is not in a good state.  Hiro... we have yet to get into contact with but he has a wife and a son.

Lastly, still no water.  Electricity has been restored but the water guy comes around every so often.  Also, the grocery stores have these earthquake kits they are distributing.  Not sure what is in them but hope to have some pics later.  

Good night from Hong Kong.  


PS - let me know in the comments section if you have any questions you want me to ask.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

More from Yoshikazu and a little more positive...hopefully this will continue.

Last night we managed to finally speak in length with Yoshikazu.  This had to do with the power being restored at his home.  This is a good sign.  They seem to be in better spirits.  We spoke with him for several minutes.  Fortunately he experienced little home damage as his home was relatively new with modern specifications.   

He had pretty bad hiccups which he said was due to the surprise of the electricity coming back on and eating rice so quickly.  It was a funny conversation as every 5 seconds there was the pause.

One story he shared was the experience of picking up his Son, Shintaro from school during the earthquake.  He was in his car on the way when the earthquake hit.  When he finally arrived, he ran up to the campus and fell and ended up messing up his knee a bit.    

We also spoke with Mayumi's mom and she also was better spirits.  She made light of their situation by saying that one benefit of the Tsunami was they didn't have to go far to get fish.  Um er ah. 

I hope to have some pictures to send later today.

Contact with 1 brother

We finally made contact with one of Mayumi's brothers, Yoshikazu.  He and my Nephew, Shintaro are healthy but they are just dealing with the situation.  Still no electricity and all the shops are closed.  They said they are hungry.  Very glad that we finally heard from them despite their state.

Getting Started

Dear Readers,

In light of the devastation of the recent earthquake in Japan, I, like you, have been empathizing more and more on the terrible situation that is left behind.  My wife (Mayumi) is Japanese and grew up in Mito & Hitachi Naka City which is along the east cost of Japan half way between Tokyo and Sendai.  This is also about 40 to 50 Km from the Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima that you are reading about and about 15 minutes to the ocean.

Here is an interactive map from FT that I found that illustrates where I am writing from (it is labelled  Hitach on the map which is a typo on FT's part!).,s01=1.html#axzz1GT3E5ZmX

Mayumi has a 3 brothers and 1 sister who all have families of their own.  Over the past week, we have been doing our best to be in contact with them all but it hasn't been easy.  The phone lines were not always working.  It is hard to imagine what they are experiencing and how we can help.  We concluded that until their basic needs are met, it will be really difficult to understand their situation and how we can best help.  We therefore decided that we would create this blog and start documenting the stories they are sharing with us.

The purpose of this blog is to ultimately raise money and resources to help her family and neighborhood.  Over this past weekend, we have heard from so many concerned friends from around the world and are  extremely grateful for all requests to help.  Thank you Thank you and Thank you!  We appreciate all of the tremendous support that you have given to Mayumi's family.  Despite us being in Hong Kong, we will do our best to keep you posted on what type of help is most needed and how you all can participate.

Here is a quick update on how things are:
So far, we have been able to speak with her mom, dad, sister and nephew.  We are still trying to reach her 2 brothers who are on the other side of town.  To date, we haven't managed to reach them.  We have heard they are safe though.

Today we were told that the ground is still shaking as their area experienced a minor one with magnitude of 4.  A lot of the infrastructure such as roads are damage/destroyed so just getting around is making it quite difficult.  Most of the grocery stores are without any food now but there are community centers for everybody to eat.  Mayumi's family home has a severely damaged roof and they are all sleeping in various places like cars, community centers or areas within the house after they clean up the mess of all that has fallen.  Gas is limited so everybody is conserving what they have and not driving.  Her Mother has been able to secure water from a neighbor and also from a natural spring.  Most people have gas to cook with if they have local tanks.  Her sister has been so traumatized that she is just sleeping during the day.  Her father who is nearly 70 has been climbing up to the roof to fix things which is extremely nerve wrecking knowing how unstable things are and how easy it is for him to slip.

Thanks again everyone and please stay tuned for our best efforts with daily blogs.  Feel free to send this out to your networks and hope that we can provide you with as close of a first hand experience that we can.  As said, once we can determine the best way to help, we will be let you know.