Chie and I joined Ishihara-san and about 30 other people to go to Kobuchihama to do takidashi (Japanese meaning distribution of meal after an emergency). The purpose was to have a “picnic party”, as a complement to the food and water we ship there. We brought things to set up food stands, cooking equipment, food and water.
I was one of the designated drivers and got “lucky” to be one of two drivers for the super extra looooooong Toyota Hiace, which was maybe not really twice the length of a normal Toyota Hiace but close enough. I prepared for the driving by taking a 2 hours nap in the afternoon while Chie was at Ishihara-san’s place cutting cabbage for the yaki-soba (for 3 hours).
After picking up the “mini” van in Shibuya we went back to Ishihara-san’s place to load it and the other mini vans – a total of 6 mini vans loaded with things and people. At just before 11 pm our car took off. First thing we did? We missed the expressway entrance :-O But no worries… The navigating system took us back on track and after a long nights driving, and stopping at several service areas, we arrived in Kobuchihama around 8 am and started to prepare for the “party”.
I had two duties, except being a designated driver, and that were to help out with the gyoza (small Japanese dumplings) and to give away the strawberry shaped meringues and the bear shaped chocolate chip cookies that I mentioned in Cookies for Kids blog post. I think I did OK, the kids were very happy to get the meringues and cookies 🙂 Chie did do a great job on one of the most difficult places, making the Japanese omelete.
Eventually it was all over. And people in our group was exhausted. It had been a great day with a beautiful blue sky and a lot of people had gotten a lot of food. Some people bringing food home to their families that could not come.
After we had packed everything and was ready to load it onto the mini vans again, an old woman came by. She was too late she thought but we still had things left-over and we packed it in a box along with some water. Then one of the guys asked if he could help her home and if it was far… “Not far, just over there” she said and they walked away.
The guy did not come back in a long time. In fact, he never came back by himself. Ishihara-san had taken one of the cars to visit some homes. On their way back they saw the guy walking, exhausted, on the road. It turned out that “not far, just over there” has very different meanings to someone well above 80 years living in this area compared to some 25-30 years old Tokyo-guy 🙂
Once they were back we headed back home to Tokyo. Arriving in Tokyo 30 minutes into Monday morning. It had been a very long trip and a lot of hard work, but it had also been very interesting, fun and rewarding. Also, it was good (if you can say that) to see with our own eyes the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami. It made it real in a very different way that watching TV. For us passing by it is “just” destroyed buildings but for the people that lived and worked in those buildings it their lives that has been smashed to pieces.
The video above is taken when driving on our way home somewhere between Kobuchihama and Sendai. All though a lot has been cleaned up since March 11 you can still get a feeling of the destruction. More or less all the empty space between buildings was once filled with other buildings.
It was good to be there, and hopefully we did bring some help or hope or a bit of both. It also makes you realize that having 28 degrees in the office this summer to save some energy is not the worst that can happen to you. We are the lucky ones.