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Today marks 1 year since The Great North-Eastern Japan Earthquake.  It's so hard to believe that it's been a year already!  My town is just now starting to rebuild and is actually still knocking down unstable buildings.  There is so much damage left to fix, yet, already, so much has been cleaned up and fixed.

A year ago today I thought my aparmtment was going to fall apart with me inside of it.  I gave [ profile] ninja007 a heart attack and then she spent quite a bit of time talking with [ profile] race_the_ace before calling my mom and waking her up to tell her that I was alright after the earthquake, but didn't know if I was alright due to the tsunami.

What I remember most from the earthquake was all my furniture moving across the rooms, not being able to stay on my feet, everything crashing around me and seeing parked cars in the parking lot bouncing like basket balls.  I also remember hearing explosions.   I had been vid chatting with [ profile] ninja007 when the earthquake hit and I managed to get a text to her before my cell phone stopped working to let her know I was ok.

There was no running water in my town for 5 weeks.  The roads were so damaged that vehicles couldn't come into the city so food and gasoline became scarce.  After the meltdown at the plant and all the explosions around the city, it rained acid rain for one evening and night. We evacuated.  I went to stay with a friend in Tokyo for a week before going back to Canada for a month.

Fast forward one year and things are getting better.  I am very proud to announce that after a year of no running water and only being able to use part of the school, Yotsukura Junior High School is fully functional again!  Running water was restored to the 2nd and 3rd floors 3 days ago and 2 days ago water was restored to the 1st floor as well! The students will be returning to their own school, after having been sharing the elementary school for the past year, tomorrow!

All weekend there have been celebrations all across the city and , indeed, all across north eastern Japan!  Right now there are fire works going off that I can see clearly from my balcony! The beach is only a 5 minute walk from my aparmtment, after all.  So many people died, and many are still missing. However, so many people lived.  Life goes on, and that it worth celebrating. Live life in the moment. Live life like today could be your last day.  No one had expected what happened.  No one could have ever imagined it would happen. What happened was right out of a sci-fi/horror movie.

This is what my city looked like after the earthquake and tsunami.

each town in Iwaki is listed in the bottom right hand of the video.  At the time of the earthquake I was living near Onahama.  I now live and work in Yotsukura and Hisanohama. We have come so far in the year since the disaster. But we still have a long way to go.

I'm just glad to be alive.


Nov. 9th, 2011 08:27 pm
frellnik: (Default)

Feel free to skip this post if you don't want to here my somewhat angsty musings.  For some reason I have a hard time getting the cuts to work right, so I'm not going to bother trying tonight.

I'm trying to update more often but sometimes I just can't think of anything to say.  Seems like lately all I want to do is complain and I'm pretty sure most people don't want to sit around and read that all the time.

I find I just don't have the energy to do much lately....well not just lately, it's been a while now.  I have such a hard time getting up in the mornings to go to work and I often fall asleep at my desk after lunch for 15 minutes or so (though, not today :)  )  and yet, despite being tired all the time, I have a hard time getting to sleep at night.  My back has been really bothering me lately, enough that I'm doing my physio excercises twice a day now instead of just once and my neck and shoulders have been sore since Canadian Thanksgiving day weekend (although they are getting better now) and I've been getting lots of headaches.  So I'm thinking stress is a major factor.  But I don't really feel all that stressed. But what else could it be? 

Today I had stomach pains all day and barely ate anything.  I had my usual breakfast but only ate a bun with peanut butter for lunch and I made a fajita omlette for dinner. I t's after 8pm and I'm tired but not enough to actually be able to sleep.  And before you say that's too early, I have been going to bed around 9pm since I got here over a year ago.  lol

It will be 8 months on Friday since the eathquake on 3/11 and there hasn't been a big one in my area since the end of August.  There have been one or two medium sized ones (M5) but the last M6 or M.something (tsunami warning included) was around August 20th.  So you'd think I'd be feeling a sense of relief at relative normalcy returning to my life.  But there are still the odd smallish earthquake and every now and then they come in little groups.  When that happens (like this week) I start waiting for a big one and then when nothing happens I don't know what to do with myself.  At least after a big one I knew that I had at least a week before I had to worry about another one. Now I either don't think about it at all or start wondering when the next one will come.  Not IF, but WHEN.  And I know that there might not be another big one while I'm here, but then again, it could happen tonight.

How many earthquakes have there been since 3/11??  The other day I was talking to [ profile] ninja007 and once again made the realization that, "Holy Shit, I lived through that" and  "I survived".  That thought has hit me in the face a few times in the past 8 months and each time it's like the first time.  At least the nightmares have stopped :)  The town beside me got hit by the tsunami and then after that it burned down.  My Base school is hoping to be up and running again by Februray.  It is located practically on the beach and got hit and damaged by the tsunami. 8 months later there is still no running water at the school and electricity is limited.  So only one grade (gr 9) is currently able to use the school.  I'm getting very good at using Japanese porta potties (squatt toilets). We are hoping that the school will be ready in time for the end of the school year in March so that the students can have their graduation ceremony in their school gym (fingers crossed).

Despite all this negativity I am still happy here. I love my apartment (although it desperately needs a good cleaning), I love my job (97% of the time) and I still love Japan.  I have already decided to stay for a 3rd year.  I'm going to Chikako's place every weekend for about 3 hours to study for the JLPT which I will be taking on December 4th in Tokyo, and I really hope to pass this time around. If not I'll be taking it again in July.

On an happy note, Chikako is taking me to a concert (classical trumpet) this Sunday and then we are going out to dinner :)  I'm looking forward to this! Also Next Tuesday (the 15th) is the Annual Mid Year Conference for Fukushima JETs in Fukushima city and then on the 17th I'm off to L.A. for the Final Farscape Convention!  (and a wedding).  I'm really looking forward to seeing all my Scaper pals and having some fun.

Well I think this post is long enough. 

1 year!

Aug. 3rd, 2011 06:26 pm
frellnik: (Default)

It's been 1 year, to the day, that I arrived in Iwaki. And it's been one hell of a year, both good and bad.

So let's see. 

The GOOD!!

- I moved to Japan! Came to the town of Izumi in Iwaki City.
- I got my first apartment! and what a nice apartment it was!! 2 rooms, livingroom with kitchen on the back wall.
- BEACH PARTIES!!!!  Fireworks!! Fun in the Sun!
- Started teaching at Izumi Elementary School and Izumi North Elementary school.
- Got involved with the SGI group here and made 2 really good friends and another friend I didn't get to see all that often, but really helped me out a few times.
- Met another 30 ALTs in Iwaki from all over the world and made some really good friends in that group too!
- Did lots of travelling around Japan (all over Tokyo, Fukushima, Koriyama, Aizu Wakamatsu, Sapporo, Kyoto, etc)
- Had a great surprise visit home at Christmas!
and now I've moved to the town of Yotsukura in Iwaki City.


The BAD!!

-Was sick...ALOT. More than I was ever sick in Canada.
- Melted at work in 30C+ weather with no AC.
- Ended up in the hospital for 15 days in Feburary with a herniated disk in my lower back. ($100 a day, roughly) Thank god for national health insurance!!
- 3 days after getting out of the hospital...the sky fell
- shindo 6+ (M9.0) earthquake hit at 2:46pm Friday March 11th. I was at home alone...talking with[ profile] ninja007 on msn video chat. I have never been so scared in my life. 
- Then the tsunami came. I was ok in Izumi, but where I live now was hit pretty good, I'll have to get some pictures of how it looks 5 months later.
- Then we were told the power plant blew up...or something.  It's about 40km from where I live now... the stay clear zone is 30km radius.
- Then I got evacuated from my home. My town had no running water for 5 weeks and lost power a few times.
- Then I started fighting with my family and eventually gave in and went back to Canada for a month.
- Slight case of PTSD which is slowly getting better.  [ profile] ninja007 has been helping with that :)  At least the nightmares have stopped.


- I have moved from Izumi to Yotsukura last week.  I will no longer be teaching elementary school, but will be teaching Junior High School. 2 of my schools were damaged by the tsunami and fires and are not safe to use yet.  One of the schools is inside the 30km zone as well as being damaged by tsunami and fire. So those students have been relocated to other schools. One of the schools will be fully usuable again by the end of March next year. I have no idea about the one inside the 30km zone. 

Yotsukura is a nice place. It's in the middle of nowhere. lol  The walk to the train station takes about 12 minutes and it's like something out of  a movie. Beautiful green everywhere you look and houses, of course.  It's peacefull.  Although, there is construction everywhere!  People fixing their homes, the roads, shops, etc.  But there isn't much to do here, except go to the beach...which is closed for the forseable future.  I'm a 10 minute walk from the beach I need to watch for tsunamis...where I didn't before.  We had a 6.4 last Sunday morning at 4am. That freaked me out. But no tsunami, so I guess I won't have to worry too much about them if it's under a 7.  I'm hoping there aren't any more of those.

So I get introduced to my new school on the 19th of August.  I hope I like JHS.


one more bit of good news:  My uncle is coming to visit me next week.  He gets here on Sunday and will stay for 10 days. So we will stay in Iwaki for 5 days and then go to Tokyo for 5 days! I'm looking forward to this! It's going to be fun!

frellnik: (Default)
Another Earthquake...another tsunami warning.  At least the tsunmai didn't actually come, but it was a tense 30 or 40 minutes.  This one was a 7.1 in Miyagi. It was smallish here, but it was long and my apartment moved quite a bit.  Nothing fell of the shelves though. But it was quite evident by the feel of it that it was coming from far away and was most likely quike large. 

I didn't hear it coming this time. I felt the air change. I was putting laundry away and I stopped and just stood there a moment trying to figure out what had changed. I remember thinking an Earthquake is coming and then a few seconds later it started.  The tsunami warning covered pretty much all of Tohoku area (Iwakte prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture).  I'm glad it didn't hit. It would have been only half a meter, but that's still a mess to clean up after.

Aside from that, it's really hot! I'm hoping the thunderstorms that are supposed to hit later today will cool things down a bit.


I went to lunch with one of my colleagues from work and her 2 daughters. We went to and Italian restaurant near my house and spent 2 hours eating and chatting.  The food was amazing and so was the company. Tonight Kiyoko is coming over and we're going grocery shopping and then I'm going to introduce her to fajitas.  Looking forward to it :)


Jun. 9th, 2011 07:50 pm
frellnik: (Default)
Today is day 4 with no earthquakes!!! YAY!!!  I'm still nervous when I think about it, but I've looked online and the surrounding areas have had small ones so it isn't like they just suddenly stopped, they just aren't right under me.  So maybe it's just finally slowing down.

Today has been interesting.  I taught all 4 of my gr. 5 classes before lunch and they all went really well, except the last one. We reviewed the months and dates again and then did "When is your birthday?" and "My birthday is ... , ..."
Then we played Hot Potato with 2 balls - one being the question ball and the other being the answer ball. I played the song, Jumpstart by These Kids Wear Crowns, and the kids all seemed to really enjoy it.

Then 4th period I had a class of chatter boxes. Their teacher told them to be quiet at least 4 times. They were fine when the music was playing and they were passing the balls around, but they kept on talking and laughing when the 2 students who had to do the dialogue were trying to say their parts. Some of the kids had to repeat themselves 2 or 3 times to be heard.

Finally I yelled at them.  I told them to Stop talking when the music stops! Then the teacher told them that now both teachers were mad at them! lol  Things were better after they realized that I was mad and not just that their teacher was annoyed.

I decided not to give stickers that class and the teacher agreed with me.  The kids were dissapointed.

So, just as I came back to the teacher's room from eating lunch with some of the staff in the principal's room, ALL the kids from that class came into the teacher's room and formed a line at my desk, that went all the way to the door, and appologized to me one by one.  I'm talking formal appology: name and class introduction and what they were sorry for and that it wouldn't happen again and they will listen the first time I say something, etc. I just stood there and said ok, and thank you for each of them for their appologies.   Wow.

Later the teacher stopped by my desk to tell me that the kids had asked to come an appologise to me and that after they got back to class they were all relieved and happier.  :)  I've only gotten mad in class a few times (twice this year and different schools) and I've been appologized to before, but this was a bit different.  The kids always seem to realize they went too far when I get angry because I'm usually so happy and bubbly in class. I make the kids laugh alot....

DAMMIT!!!   BIG EARTHQUAKE!!!! so much for day 4!! shit.  ok...not sooo big, but big enough that if I had been sleeping I would have freaked out. again.  We were doing so well too!!!!  going to go turn on the tv to see what that one was.  .... and another one 45 seconds later.... M5.7 no Tsunami.  

Well, that was the end of my update so I guess I'll stop here and watch tv for a while.



Mar. 17th, 2011 11:26 pm
frellnik: (Default)
So the danger zone around the Dai-ichi plant has increased from 30km to 80km.  Iwaki is in that zone.  Not many people are left in Iwaki, most have left to either Ibaraki prefecture or Toochigi or Tokyo.    I need to talk to my supervisor, but it looks like I may be going back to Canada for a couple of weeks.  I am looking at leaving on Monday and coming back April 4th.  This is not certain yet, but it is a possibility.

Aya's wedding will be postponed until the end of August.  She is still getting married in 2 weeks, but that will be just for family only.

anyway, today was a nice uneventful day that went by rather quickly.  Had an earthquake scare this evening when our alarms all went off and then nothing happened.  An earthquake hit Chiba (M.5.8) but we didn't feel it here. 

So now I'm displaced from my home, being bullied, more or less, for my own good, into leaving the country...and all my stuff is staying in Iwaki.  I hope things improve soon so that I can get back to my life.  So we can all get back to our lives.

Please, if you have any cash to spare, please donate to support Japan.  There is so much damage and so many people being displaced from their homes. 

ok, i'm going to bed.  have a good day everyone!
frellnik: (Default)

I got to Peter's house ok.  I had a really nice taxi driver. I guess Kodama Sensei told him about my back issues because he asked me flat out about my back and wouldn't let me carry any of my bags! lol  He talked with me the entire drive and then when we got to Peter's I didn't know which apartment it was he came with me upstairs with my bags and helped me find the right door! lol   THen he went back downstairs to get the rest of my bags.  The trip cost me 50 bucks, but there is no tip invovled...I wish I could have tipped him.

There are 14 ALTs here.  We've divided into three groups for sleeping.  I'll be staying at Peter's for sleeping and 2 other people have offered their appartments for sleeping.  We will all gather back here for meals.  We all have assigned duties to help with while here.  I sorted all the food earlier into drinks, parishable, non parishable and snacks.

I have internet access while I'm here but not sure how often I'll be able to get online with 14 people here. 

We have LOTS of water here and quite a bit a food.  We are preparing to make dinner now by starting with a survey of everything we have.  I think I'm going to need a snack.

So things are good.  I have my e-reader with 104 books, my music, my cell phone and chargers and my laptop.  And I have company.  Sam and Kim are staying here with me and I'm friends with both of them!  So I'm happy with this arrangement! Since I won't be alone at night, I might feel safe enough to really sleep!    I will have to go back to work Thursday but I can stay here until Wednesday night. .

All is well! 


Mar. 14th, 2011 03:34 pm
frellnik: (Default)
I'm leaving my place.  Some of the other ALTs are all styaing together in Taira and my supervisor has called a taxi for me to go there too.  I will be leaving in about 20 minutes.  Bringing all my food with me, some clothes and pillow, and my laptop.  Bringing my passport just in case. Don't know what is going to happen.  Yotsukura, 4 stops from me on the train,  has been evacuated.  I'm hoping I'll be able to come back here when this is done.

Take care guys!


Don't worry. i'm fine.


frellnik: (Default)
I HATE AFTERSHOCKS!!!  You'd think after 2 days there would be less....or at least weaker.  I want to sleep! I'm so tired that I'm freezing! It's 19C in my room and I have my heat turned on high.

I have spent the last 33 hours without internet.  It is back now, but no idea for how long. Hopefully it will stick around this time.  My phone is also on the fritz. I seem to be able to send messages but am not getting any back. 

Poor [ profile] ninja007 .  I was vid chatting with her when the earthquake happened and the line was cut and the last thing she saw was me standing in the doorway screaming while the whole place shook around me....then yesterday we were vid chatting again and the internet cut out with no warning and my phone wasn't working. I sent her a message but don't know if she got it.  Poor girl.  

So, if I dissapear for a while, it doesn't mean I'm in trouble, it just means the internet lines are down again and I can't get online.  I will try to post at least once a day to let people know what's happening.  If I do end up having to evacuate, wich I shouldn't, I won't have internet.  but as long as I'm home I'll do my best to post so people don't worry.

I was given a bag of drinkable water today by my neighbours.  They got more than they needed so gave me some.  I have enough water for several days now :)

The aftershocks are settling a bit.  Instead of every few minutes, they come in groups.  We'll get an hour or so with none and then spend an hour or so with one after another.  Then another hour or more with none and then another 20 minutes of tremors.  some are as strong as 6 but they are not too close so they feel more like 4s.  still big enough to be scary.  other are sudden strong shakes like an impact quake. those scare me.  I get a mental image of a meteor hitting the ground outside my apartment.  those ones are short though.  some of them are long and weak.  there a whole bunch of different kinds.  I've run for the door 3 times since the big earthquake when my earthquake alarm on my phone has gone off. So far they've all been far enough away that the earthquakes were pretty small.  I have a bag packed at the door in case I need to get out in a hurry.

so far so good.

I got word of my friend in Sendai.  She's ok.  Not sure where she is but I know that she's with the JET people and is fine.  Now I can stop worrying :)

well, it's almost 1. I'm going to try to get some sleep.  I'm gonna leave my computer on in the hope that the internet will still be connected when I get up later.

Stay safe everyone!
frellnik: (Default)
If I didn't already know that my visit school likes me, then I certainly do now!

2 weeks ago my VP came over to my desk with his notebook and told me that we were switching two of my days around.  Instead of teaching at my base school on January 24 I will be teaching at my visit school and the day will be switched with the 26th.  Ok.  Then he tells me that this is because the someone from the BOE (Board of Education) will be coming to watch me teach that day.  Great. So now I have over a month notice that I will be teaching in front of people who will be deciding if I will stay in Iwaki next year.  Then he tells me that I will be teaching grade 5 that particular day and that I will teach with A sensei.  Cool! Thank you for the heads up!

So last week, A Sensei comes over to my desk with a print out of the lesson we will be doing on January 24th.  Now the school schedule for next semester hasn't come out yet, so I have no idea what I'm teaching when and probably won't until the week before I am supposed to teach.  So this is really unexpected.  So we went over the lesson and decided that we are short on some of the needed materials. I decided I would make some of the cards that we will need.  I told her I would do this over Christmas break. She was surprised at the offer because she knows I'm going to Tokyo to visit my host family and my friend for Christmas. I told her that my friend will be a teacher starting in April and she needs practice making school materials! lol  She laughed with me over that.  I plan on getting Aya to help me make these school cards. I think it will be fun.  So my school wants me to have a good class when the BOE comes and are going out of their way to help me prepare. That makes me so incredibly happy!

On saturday I went shopping in Taira with Chelsea.  We went to Moss Burger and I decided I really like their onion rings! Then we went to the third floor of Saty and spent the next 2 or 3 hours wandering around. I bought a small Christmas tree complete with decorations for 20 bucks. :)  Just before leaving the store we found desks. I want one so bad.  I found a nice one that would work perfectly in my place and I could put my Butsudan on the top of the bookshelf/headboard part of it.  It would be perfect. It's about 350 bucks and it comes with a chair and light and everything.  It's awesome!  So I think I might just have to get it.  Chelsea ended up buying one of the desk chairs.  It took a little time because we had to wait for the store clerks to run around and pull boxes out of storage to see if they had any in the colour that Chelsea wanted.  She had just decided to order one when the store clerk found one the right colour. So we took turns carrying the box with the chair in it back to the train station :)

This morning I sent in a paper declaring to the JET programme that if for some reason next year I cannot stay in Iwaki, due to lack or available space, that I am willing to move to another city in the prefecture.  I requested Koriyama or Fukushima city. I also clearly stated that I would prefer to stay in Iwaki and that moving should be a last resort.  I quite like it here in Iwaki.  If I move I will end up further from Tokyo and I don't really want that either.  Also, I love my schools, the kids and my friends, not to mention my apartment. I really want to stay here. So I'm going to focus on that.

Today at lunch time we had a rather larger earhquake. it was a 6.9.   Thankfully it wasn't centered in Iwaki. It actually happened in Chiba which is next to Tokyo about 3 hours away from here. Half the country felt this one.  This was definitely the strongest one since I got here. It was also the first one I've had while out of the apartment.  Usually I'm in bed or sitting at my computer when an earthquake hits. Today I was at school.  We turned on the tv to get info on it and it took a few minutes for the report to have all the info. It started with just telling us how far it was felt, then after a few minutes more info came in.  Then the tv was turned off and everything went back to normal.

I made a one my kids cry today.  She cried for a whole 10 minutes.  We were playing a game (hot potato) and she couldn't get the answer so burried her face in her hands and cried.  Then sat down again and cried for the rest of the game, refusing to play.  Fun.  Grade 6. The teacher then told me that last year she used to do that a lot, but this was the first time this year....nice.  I feel special. lol  I'm not going to let it bother me.  It wasn't a hard question and it was review. I gave her a sticker in the end, even though I had to sick it on her because she still had her head burried and wouldn't look at me.

Bought strawberry short cake (2 pieces) on the way home from school today. Going to eat a piece tomorrow.
I'm tired. I'm going to bed now.

Good night everyone! (or good morning, depending where you are :) )


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