Despite that Japan may be already fading from the headlines, despite some reports that I've read that say things are nearly back to normal here, they are not.
Earthquakes are still shaking us every few hours at least. Today I was on the train when another quake struck. Everyone's phone disaster alarms started beeping at once, and at the same time the train ground to a halt between stations for an emergency stop.
Trains are running, but at a reduced rate. My line is going at 50%. Trains are late, and more packed than usual. It takes twice as long to get anywhere. This is a city where hardly anyone drives, and there's still a run on gas. Yesterday I saw queues stretching for blocks at the stations that were open. At least half seem to still be closed.
The city is dark, eerily so. Power saving and rolling blackouts are still in effect, and lights and signage have been dimmed. I went to city hall today, and used the restroom, in the dark. Went to Shinjuku tonight and we thronged with the crowds in Kabukicho in muffled half light.
About half of my friends have left, either to further flung parts of Japan or to other countries. Those of us remaining are varying degrees of nervous, watching the reports roll out and trying to sort through the information and misinformation.
I was talking to my aunt and mom and cousin today, and they're guardedly worried about the radiation. We talked about alternative power, sun and wind and water. Lots of people in Japan already use solar panels, and there are some wind turbines here too. But we could do so much more. We have the technology here, and perhaps now we have the impetus to be a model for alternative energy, to lead the way in making the alternative the mainstream. Thinking about this possibility for the future, about the hopeful implications for the rest of the world, is a small bright spot in all this darkness.
Meanwhile, displaced people up north still lack basics. Many still don't have electricity, or even kerosene to heat the frigid evacuation centers. They don't have enough food or water. Search and rescue efforts continue.
In addition to the package I sent to Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support last week, I've also sent boxes to Second Harvest Japan, where I've volunteered before, and Peace Boat. As well as accepting material donations (domestically) and monetary donations (from anywhere), 2HJ is using volunteers in Tokyo, and Peace Boat is organizing volunteers both in Tokyo and to go to Tohoku. If you can, please find a way to help.