Earthquake in Japan

March 11, 2011 at 10:57 PM ·


many thanks for everyone`s kind messages after the recent earthquake in Japan.

Personally I live a long way from any danger areas but I cannot remember being in a building that shook so much ever.  It seemed to last much longer than the usual quakes.  The horrific thing really,  as seen in the footage,  is the tsunami.  Apparently a 30 cm tsunami is enough to knock any adult over.  the ones that hit Japan were up to 10 meters and watching real time images of both ships and cars sailing down the main streets of major cities was  a truly disturbing reminder of how powerless we are in the face of nature.

Having said that Japan has both an infrastructure geared to earthquake survival and highly efficient disaster training  I wasn`t there but I know from the real time news that the moment the quake struck all the media was telling people to move and where to go,  which people have practiced.  They only had ten or fifteen minutes but the drilling is such that this is enough for most people to get to safety.  Very highly organized.  

As such, given the enormous magnitude of the quake and waves,  casualties will be relatively small albeit horrifying.  Actually a lot more people died in the Hanshin earthquake some fifteen years ago,  one of the main reasons being the fires caused by cheap kerosene heaters overturning,   something less likely as this is a riche r part of Japan.  I have a friend who was  a child in Kobe at that time.  She  told me that in her school playground the next day there was a huge crevice they couldn`t see the bottom off.

Anyway it seems that all the visiting musicians are okay but whether there will be much music going on for the next few days I have no idea.



Replies (96)

March 11, 2011 at 11:03 PM ·

 Thank you for your update Buri and glad to know you are safe and sound

March 11, 2011 at 11:18 PM ·

Oh, Buri, so glad that you are safe!


March 12, 2011 at 12:00 AM ·

 Thank goodness!  My violin teacher is originally from Japan, but she says her parents are safe. 

March 12, 2011 at 12:18 AM ·

I think I must have been the last person on the planet to hear about the earthquake and tsunami (haven't had TV on at all today).  But when I did hear about it, my first thought was of you, Buri -- so glad to know you're OK.

March 12, 2011 at 12:27 AM ·


the most disturbing thing for me was this morning actually.  I put the car radio on at five oclock. The only programs were anouncers reading out requests from people for their friends and relatives to contact them.  Each message was only a few seconds long.  Bascially `I`m okay.  Call us.`  Three hours later I put the radio on and it was still going on relentlessly.  So many people desperately worried....


March 12, 2011 at 01:10 AM ·

 buri will always be ok because needs his wisdom.

March 12, 2011 at 02:56 AM ·

 Buri, I'm very glad you are okay! 

This earthquake serves as a reminder to Californians -- we live in a major earthquake zone but haven't had one in a while. I don't feel like we are nearly as prepared as what you describe in Japan.

March 12, 2011 at 03:03 AM ·

Just want to chime in that it's a relief to know you are OK, Buri-san.  And that you type better than ever in the face of a major disaster.

March 12, 2011 at 03:04 AM ·


I'm so glad to hear you are OK.  I've been thinking of you all day.

March 12, 2011 at 04:12 AM ·

 Same here!

March 12, 2011 at 04:42 AM ·

Lesson from our experience with 9/11:  They don't know they need musicians, but they really do right now.  The need will come to do what only we can; they may not be able to ask.

Google came through again:.  Google People Finder for the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami.

March 12, 2011 at 05:12 AM ·

So glad to see that the earthquake didn't buri you!  

It's a very good new!


March 12, 2011 at 06:39 AM ·


I'm very relieved you are OK, as are the relatives of the Japanese friends we have here in London.

It sounds like one of the worst worldwide disasters we have had so far.

We are lucky too that the Christchurch earquake in New Zealand did not involve anyone we know. My wife is from NZ.

March 12, 2011 at 06:52 AM ·

It is really horrible... All those familes and their worries. My father in law went missing for 2 weeks in the tsunami that hit Thailand a few years ago so I know how much a family can worry.

Glad that you are ok Buri.

March 12, 2011 at 04:25 PM ·

Yay, you're safe. I'll have you and many others in my prayers.

March 12, 2011 at 09:22 PM ·

Stay safe! I always worry about staying in the tall hotels in Anchorage.

I'm glad to hear that you are OK.

March 13, 2011 at 03:00 AM ·


a small update.   I have a few friends in both Japan and England who are currently unable to contact friends and relatives in the Sendai area.   This is probably because the mobile phone towers are out as well as the phone lines etc so no need to think te worst at the moment.

The v.commie Tokyo memebers are fine. v.commie actually has a memeber in the sendai symphony orchestra (according to rathe rold information here) . I mailed him but for the reasons I just mentioned I suppose ,  have not received a reply.

Don`t know the current condition of the Sendai Symphony orchestra but they might well need some kind of assistance in the future if they were around at the time.



March 13, 2011 at 09:04 AM ·

I regularly visit the USGS earthquake website, since I live on the "Ring of Fire".  So I went to see what recent earthquake activity had been going on in Japan, and the map was so cluttered, I couldn't make sense of it, so I clicked on the list of most recent earthquakes in Japan.  What I saw was a list of quakes so long I couldn't even comprehend it:

Basically, an earthquake has been happening every ten or fifteen minutes for three or four days now.  Nearly 250 of them were over 5.0, and 35 of them were 6.0 or higher.  I've never observed anything like it.

I hope that communication lines are restored quickly, so that people can reconnect with those they love who are unaccounted for.

March 13, 2011 at 04:12 PM ·

Just to add my voice to sya how pleased I am that you're OK. Many's the hour I have spent reading your words of wisdom on here. I do hope supplies of prunes are unaffected!

March 14, 2011 at 02:39 AM ·

As the days go by and the news from Japan is increasingly grave, words fail.  So, so sorry.

March 14, 2011 at 03:53 AM ·


mmmmm. It feels terrible just going into work and being cheerful because of the kids, but at the same time knowing there are tens of thousands of homeless surviving in the most appalling conditions  with the prospetc of more to come.  When a system is compeltely overwhelmed there is so little anyone can do .  The Japanese nuclear industry is generally stemically dishonest so the full extent of what is happening there is scary.

Musicians will play there part in restoring hope but now doesn`t seem to be practical. Oner of the bleakest descriptions is here:




March 14, 2011 at 05:29 AM ·


I'm glad you're ok!

March 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM ·

Hi Buri - just to add to the relieved list above.  I read somewhere that the island of Honshu moved about 2.5 m during the big quake.

March 14, 2011 at 12:13 PM ·

Buri, relieved to hear you're OK. Between the aftershocks, and the precarious situation with the nuclear power plants, do be careful. Prayers are being sent to you and everyone affected by this.

March 14, 2011 at 05:20 PM ·

Buri, thanks for letting us know you are ok. When I heard the bad news, the first person I thought about was you but knowing Gifu is away inland, I didn't think you'd be in big trouble. Still, it's a relief to hear from you. As Al Ku said, you must stay well because we need you.

Take care and live well!


March 14, 2011 at 06:49 PM ·

 It is just getting worse:

March 15, 2011 at 04:13 AM ·

Thank goodness.  I know basically nothing about you other than what I read here, but I do know the world would not be the same without Buri!

March 15, 2011 at 04:19 AM ·


I may yet be irradiated.  

Reading in the Guardian abour how some of the tens of thousands of homeless are getting by on two riceballs a day is just horrifying. That`s less than 300 calories.   This morning I heard an radio appeal for help from a hospital thta has no heating,  not enough blankets,  little or no water,  basic medical equipment  and virtually no food.  Its bizarre that people should be suffering so muchi n one of the worlds bigest economies (sort of) while the rest of the country goes about their business in strained unease,  not really knowing what to do.


March 15, 2011 at 10:38 AM ·

Not good news on the reactors this morning.... This was one of the main fears when nuclear power stations were first considered - how to earthquake proof them.  I don't think anyone concieved of this particular combination of disasters...

March 15, 2011 at 12:10 PM ·


So glad you're okay.  I had an immediate family member who was in Tokyo when the quake struck and is thankfully okay as well.  I know many people who are either in, or have family/friends in Japan.  Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

March 15, 2011 at 12:35 PM ·

Buri: Relieved to know you're OK, but horrified at the immensity of this tragedy and the death and unspeakable suffering it has caused and will continue to cause for some time to come. Our thoughts are with you and everyone affected by this.
Warmest regards,

March 15, 2011 at 07:12 PM ·


new major quake on different fault line.  Mmmm...

From the Guardian 15th March:*

Japanese violin virtuoso Taro Hakase will be playing this evening in London, at 5pm at St Pancras International, to raise money for the British Red Cross Tsunami Appeal, with David Juritz and Maciej Janas. They are planning to play in the concourse, near the Eurostar terminal.


March 15, 2011 at 08:48 PM ·

The orchestra of the Maggio Musicale of Florence are blocked in Tokyo.On the night after the earthquake they played Tosco under the baqton of Zubin Mehta to a full house. They have given two more performances since.It was then decided to anticipate their next prt of call and move on to China.Unfortunately they are blocked in their hotel with rising radiation levels and no chance of a flight out.

March 15, 2011 at 10:29 PM ·


given the level of both disaster -and- panicked people tyring to leave  the airports are going to be messed up for quite a while.

Looking now at 40000 refugees living on one rice ball a day - 150 calories approx.   Sat through an extraordinary staff meeting here yesterday.  Stressed out teachers standing up and demanding to know `What are we supposed to do?` not getting any answers or leadership from principal etc, getting more and more angry and more and more polite.  Horrible to watch.

Lots of traumatized kids don`t want to come to school because they associate outside and school with `wobbly` even though they have no concept of what is going on.


March 15, 2011 at 11:33 PM ·

Wasn't the British motto during WWII something like "Keep calm and carry on"?  Maybe that's all one can do. The poor children. 

I find it ironic that the Japanese, the only people on earth to have lived with the destruction of the atom bomb, are so dependent on nuclear energy.  In such a small, industrialized nation, it may have seemed the best option, at least until things started going so horribly wrong.

March 16, 2011 at 01:30 AM ·


what is not clear at the moment is what last nights 6.0 shock was.  Since it was West of Tokyo (Shizuoka) it may be othe rmajor fault line in Japan is going to go.  That has been expected and prepared for for many years.  if it does go it willbe a disaster beyond comprehension.

Last nights quake/aftershock? affected my area dna damaged my school. walls are extensively cracked.



March 16, 2011 at 04:36 AM ·

 I'm sorry to hear that, Buri. Is the school still okay to use? How about where you live?

March 16, 2011 at 05:11 AM ·


its just cracks but the worry is that if there is another quake bits might start falling off.  Talking about carrying helmets around in school.  As we have learned, it`s tsunamis rather than quakes that are the real killers ,  unless you are close to a nuclear reactor.  People have been noting for years that the ancient city of Kyoto is ringed by six nuclear reactors and if they go up so does Japan`s cultural heritage.

I still haven`t had a reply from the v.commie memeber listed as a member of the Sendai Symphony orchestra (for obvious reasons.  Is the informtaion here correct as far as you know? If it is, I am afraid we may have lost at least one member in this mess.


March 16, 2011 at 05:25 AM ·

Good grief, Buri.  I'm on vacation, and I still can't stop thinking about everything going on over there.  I'm on my computer into the wee hours of the morning, reading about it all, hoping that relief can reach those who need it before it's too late.  And that's real sickening to hear, that the most recent 6.0 was on a differnt fault line.  What amount of activity does it usually keep?  Hope your school holds together!

March 16, 2011 at 06:22 AM ·

 I am so sorry to hear about your school Buri.  I'm hoping it holds.  Everyone in Japan is foremost in my thoughts.

March 16, 2011 at 07:24 AM ·


Emily ,  the fault line I refer to is -West- of tokyo and has been expected to explode for years.

Friday night the sort of start point around Shizuoka experience da magnitude 6 quake but experts are not sure if they want to call it an aftershock or an actual quake.  If that line goes then west Japan will also be devasted.  I am, and will, remain relatively safe.   Mostly its the increasing sense of gloom and stress that people here are trying to hide because we are so far frm the scene and so helpless.



March 16, 2011 at 12:05 PM ·

This is all terrible, and my heart goes out to all those affected. Like probably everyone, I'm especially worried about the nuclear situation.

I once was in Sendai as part of a tour with an orchestra. It was - and I pray will again be - a lovely town.

March 16, 2011 at 01:34 PM ·

 some run, some stay.

March 16, 2011 at 02:16 PM ·

10  portable generators are on there way  to help get the pumps going again.It upsets me tremendously that Japan ,with some 50 nuclear power plants in a high earthquake  zone doesn't have back-up portable generators for this kind of emergency. GE ,the designer of the power plant, is sending the  ten generators to help restore power to the pumps . 4 days too late IMO ,but a least they are on there way now.

I hope this works.


March 16, 2011 at 07:46 PM ·

They do have backup generators, but they said on this morning's news that the employee who was asked to fill them with diesel oil didn't, probably in the confusion and panic.  How something like this could not be double- and triple-checked defies comprehension.  Assuming, of course, that this account is accurate.

March 16, 2011 at 10:36 PM ·


Lisa, TEPCO is one of the most notoriously duplicituous and corner cutting companies extant in Japan.  That`s why they are in charge of something serious like nuclear energy.....  Few years back when things were going wrong at anotehr plant (forget where) , untrained workers were slopping radioactive waste around in buckets.

According to the bit of Sendai radio I listened to this morning 14 people died in one hospital from hypothermia diue to lack of heating and blankets.

Some numbers:

NTT emergency voice message board (in Japan) dial 171 view at:

Mobile phone message board servics:





Miyagi Prefecture 24 hour police hot line:  022-221-2000

Japanese Red Cross Society    (Japanese/Korean/Chinese/Portugese/ and Spanish)

Google services in Japanese ,  English,  Chinese,  Korean and Portugese:

NHK Educational ServicesTV will broadcast messages from victims or those seeking family memebers call




US State Department task force for citizens in Japan


American Red cross:

british Red cross

Save the Children


Japan HelpLine (English)


Let`s see what today brings.



March 17, 2011 at 02:30 AM ·

I grew up with the sight of cooling towers from my bedroom window and recall the monthly test sirens.  The first time I heard them as a child I thought it was the real deal as it was in the few years after TMI and Chernoble.    Later in life I experience some of the worst quakes in the US while living in CA and barely missed the tsunami in Indonesia.

I can't imagine going through the real deal plus the shear number of quakes you are all having and tsunami to boot.  It is overwhelming to just think about let alone having to cope with it.  The people of Japan have my utmost admiration for dealing with a triple-punch disaster with grace and dignity.  My thoughts and prayers are with you and the people of Japan. 

Is there something specific that we here at can do to help in any way?

March 17, 2011 at 03:28 AM ·


many thanks Mendy.   I suppose the first thing people do is donate money.   People all over Japan are sending money to the disaster area as are other countries.   In the end it is probably not so much a shortage of money as the shher scale of the event ,  the terrible weather conditions and of course,  the idiotic TEPCO.

In my mind at the moment is the support and rebuilding of the Sendai symphony orchestra as fast as possible.  To tell the truth I have no idea where the players are or what condition it is in right now but it somehow seems right to me that musicians should help muscians to rebuild their lives somewhere down the line.    Practicalities aside music is going to be the lifeblood of the future  in many ways.


Incidentally,  v.commie has at least one member in Tokyo.  I`m going to check how he is later...

March 17, 2011 at 05:32 AM ·

Here is a partial list of our registered members who live in Japan (or did at the time they registered). These are only the members who opted into the directory (There are a total of 63; for example Buri, you aren't on here because you didn't opt to be in the directory). I've listed everyone by city, then name, linked to their page.

Whether you are listed or not, our friends in Japan are in our constant thoughts and prayers. I will be happy to help efforts to aid musicians through, let's keep talking about ideas about how to do so.


Hidaka-shi - James Mummery

Hokota - Aska Kawamata

Kanagawa-ken - Lindsay Adams

Kobe - Yumi Yasui

Matsudo - Aiden Hanae

Osaka - Suminori Nishie

Sanda - Yumi Takada

Sendai - Henri Tatar

Takamatsu-Shi, Kagawa-Ken - C. Daniel Regenberg

Tama - Takaaki Suzuki

Tokyo - Scott Asahina

Tokyo - Lisa Izumi

Tokyo - Chris Koh

Tokyo – Fery Lorant

Tokyo - Kohji Ogawa

Tokyo, Toshima-ku - Andreas Preuss

Tokyo - Cornelius S.

Tokyo - Hiroshi Watanabe

Tsukuba City, Ibaraki - Craig Coleman

Yamato-shi - Dan Amano


March 17, 2011 at 06:34 AM ·

Since you're in Gifu, I wonder if you know if Yuri Kataoka is OK, if you've crossed paths with her in some violin section somewhere.  She got her MM at Illinois last year.

March 17, 2011 at 10:05 AM ·

Canada is sending 25,000 blankets as we speak.

 I do part time repair work for GE on the some of the things they make.When I read that they designed the reactors I felt uneasy.

March 17, 2011 at 11:27 AM ·



the name rings a  bell but I don@t think weV@e met.  I can ask around on Saturday.


March 17, 2011 at 04:31 PM ·

Buri, thank you for all of the updates and information.  My neice in in Fukui, Japan.  She is a school teacher with Orbits, a Japanese/American school.  Since she is on the west coast we know she has been safe so far but with everything going on with the nuclear plants, we wish she would come home.

It's actually very ironic that my neice is there right now.  Her great-grandfather worked on the atomic bombs - named Fat Man and Little Boy - and was in the same room with Slocam (sp?) when he "tickled the devils tail" and caused the first nuclear accident.  Dwight was in a far corner of the room and did not suffer from radiation poisoning to the same extent as others but he did die of lukemia many years later.  The government took his body for research.  I pray that the irony stops at "she was there during the 2011 crisis" and goes no further than that.

March 17, 2011 at 07:12 PM ·


ggod news is Sendai Phil is all okay.

The daily accounts of people dying from hypothermia and lack of medicine (especially blood pressure and diabetes)  are horrible.  Yesterday I saw the empty shelves in supermarkets for the first time as people seem to be panic buying noodles,  energy bars and stuff like that.



March 17, 2011 at 08:02 PM ·

I was wondering if your area still had groceries, gasoline, etc.  I imagine all the supply chains have been disrupted.  How are your students doing?

March 17, 2011 at 08:43 PM ·

Glad that you're okay Buri!



March 17, 2011 at 10:58 PM ·


Lisa, as mentioned above, there does seem to be the beginning of mild `panic buying` of survival type food and goods but nothing is affecting me yet.  The economic turn down in my region alone is already sounding enormous as people are basically `holing up,` with their families and cancelling trips etc., which are the norm at this time of the year.
The `refuges` I am referring to are the homeless familes who are living in the most terrible conditions , primarily sleeping side by side in school gyms.  I dion`t know what your gyms are like but the ones in Japan are unheated and freezing at the best of times.  The paper this morning has a page entitled (roughly) `Alive and Waiting.`   It has some  photos and messages from a few of the  people.  There is a photo of four youngsters with the following message from the eight year old boy in :
`At my school we had the earthquake and a landslide but we escaped. My house is crumpled up. This is the fourth disaster center we have been moved to. We can`t have a bath and it is very cold at night. There is very little food so I am very hungry but, me and my three older sisters are doing everything cheerfully.`
 I am looking at a map of people in `hinanjo` (refugee centers) in this mornings paper and the official figure is 418,830.   

March 18, 2011 at 05:33 AM ·

Buri has mentioned that the Sendai Philharmonic is all OK.

Let's send them on tour.

In Phase I, Japanese V.commies could handle musician-to-musician contacts to get them individually to safety at some staging location and the rest of us could help feed them while they rehearse.  In Phase II, the rest of us could handle the funding, publicity, logistics, and contacts for setting up their Sendai Relief Tour.  They probably have a street-level view of which charity is doing the best job in the north and should receive the tour donations.

Phase III might turn out to be a Rube Goldberg cross between an orchestra tour (major venues and hotels) and a choir tour (perform in churches and stay with specially chosen and briefed local families).

At any rate, getting them all to a common location out of the disaster zone enables them to take initiative regardless of what anyone else does.  Is it possible to find out if they are interested in preparing to speak to the world about Sendai?

March 18, 2011 at 06:37 AM ·


it`s a very nice idea Bill.  It`s important to get things on the table so that other people may be inspired to be creative and /or more positive.  However, within the current situation I have a few doubts about the timing.

As we have seen here in my part of Japan,  people are actually more inclined to do the opposite of touring at the moment,  as envibnced by 5000 (!) cancellations by Japanese familes of stays in hotels and pensions in this prefecture alone.  What people are saying is more along the lines of `now is a time for the family to stay together and watch out for each other,` and I think the word `family` extends to the whole population in a very real sense.  I would guess the Sendai musicians would want to at home with their loved ones and offering up music as support and inspiration during the terrible months ahead.

But your idea has got me thinking.  I have proposed to the schools I work at that each school in the region adopts a dispossessed family and looks after them intpo the near fuuture.  The local PTA could coordinate through the Japanese red cross and whenever a need such as scholarship money,  clothes,  a place to sleep is called on that family will always be provided for.   Alas,  I am not Japanese and the schools/ booard of education  etc are simply falling back on the important but less than visionary procedure of asking people for money.  But Japan`s problem is more complex than this in the long run although clearly the economy is going to crash and poverty become rife in some areas.

What might be possible if the Niles agree and many people are willing, is for v.commie to adopt the Sendai orchestra.   Perhaps with me as liason we could work on peoples` needs (if there are any immediate) within the orchestras families,  write to them (a very powerful tool of support) invite them over as individuals to the US at a later date ,  supply small items of support to the homeless in Sendai via the orchestra and so on.  The possibilities are very numerous indee d if such a system were to be put into operation.  

It`s something I`m willing to commit time and energy to.  Does this resonate with you at all?



March 18, 2011 at 04:10 PM ·

Yes, my note was very much in the spirit of let's get talking and pick a direction, and your perspective is indispensable, so I am completely behind your idea.

There is a required balance of discretion and controls and careful planning for's sake, if they take part, and the need for speed for the sake of the victims.  So I will contact Buri off-list (the speed part), and Laurie, let us know your thoughts.

March 19, 2011 at 05:04 AM ·

For the first time in seven days I finally came across some news that looks promising.They may be able to get power to the plants by Monday,which will hopefully get the pumps going, which will finally cool the fuel rods down.Radiation in the area is also going down.

The people of Japan must be so proud of the nuclear engineers ,fireman, electricians and others involved  who are literally putting themselves in harms way.

March 19, 2011 at 11:28 AM ·

perhaps i am being thick here,,,why not airdrop food and supplies into most severely affected areas?  

oh that's right, got to prepare for another war!

March 19, 2011 at 01:20 PM ·

The Maggio Musicale choir has now returned safely to Florence but it seems that a very small number have recieved a slight dose or radiation.One newspaper claims 8 and another claims 11 although it is stated that doses are small and are not a threat to health.How can it be that out of the 100 plus members of the group , all doing the same thing and all in the same place at the same time, a small number were contaminated?Are radio active particles selective?

March 19, 2011 at 02:00 PM ·

Compared to other serious medical diseases, syndromes, and conditions, we really have a comparatively few number of nuclear poisoning cases on record and little opportunity for research with those. Therefore, I believe that part of the problem here is that there is still so much we do not know about this danger.

In a way, I suppose, that is fortunate, because it means that the incidents of nuclear disasters are few and far between. But it does leave us with many, many unknowns in a catastrophic event like this one.

And as with other issues, there is an enormous amount of misinformation. For example, people in some places are buying up iodized salt in the mistaken believe that this will inoculate them from radiation poisoning. I've been a Rotarian for 25 years, and one of our world goals for all this time has been the eradication of polio worldwide. It still exists in a handful of countries, and one of the problems we've been dealing with is that so many people believe that the vaccine is part of a conspiracy to poison them.


March 19, 2011 at 02:24 PM ·

I'm very much in favor of Buri's idea about "adopting" the Sendai Symphony.  I can't do much financially to help, but I'm eager to do whatever I can.  Laurie, is looking into getting involved in this?  I'll keep checking back on Buri's thread to see if things are progressing to the point where we V.commies can get involved constructively.  I know everyone's prayers have got to be helping, but I'd like to become more actively involved in the "nuts-and-bolts" assistance efforts.

March 19, 2011 at 03:33 PM ·

Hi Buri, nice to know that you and yours are safe!

March 19, 2011 at 04:22 PM ·

Al, I don't think you're being 'thick' per se, but why would you jump to those conclusions?

Two SH-60 helicopters from the U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi have already delivered 1,500 pounds of rice and bread to people in the town of Shiroishi, in one of the worst-hit parts of Japan. (March 12)


There seems to be a small grain of truth to it (the iodized salt).  Not that it would be enough -- even the effect of the pills is very limited. (Here I also found the fun tidbit that bananas are mildly radioactive.  I had no idea -- that one on my table is feigning innocence!)

I feel your frustration: the conspiracy nuts were out in force when the fluoridation guidelines were revised, and I found myself reading comments and thinking that many people would benefit from basic high school chemistry being mandatory.  I remember our teacher telling us -- and I am trying to verify -- that we were practically among an elite group nationwide for having taken it, I think it was 15% or something like that.  Absolutely appalling.

March 19, 2011 at 04:38 PM ·

Hi, Nicole: You're right; the grain of truth to the salt theory is that it will protect I believe the thyroid gland (?) to a limited extent, but it definitely is not a total vaccine against radiation sickness.

March 19, 2011 at 05:51 PM ·

Not to mention the fact that I-131, the radioactive form of iodine, has a half-life of eight days.  Takes longer than that to cross the Pacific . . .

March 19, 2011 at 11:03 PM ·

I've been pointing this out to many people but the risk of the ambient radiation right now is quite low.  In Tokyo it's about two bananas/hour worth of radiation assuming the information I've seen is accurate (which actually is about the normal level).  I think most people are unaware that they themselves are somewhat radioactive...


Of course the nuclear plant situation is serious, but the media seems to enjoy generating extra fear.  I read a CNN report that radiation was found on a flight from Japan...due to a medical shipment.  Why report something like that at all?

March 20, 2011 at 04:14 AM ·


Al,  your question about helicopters and food dumping on refugee centers is not stupid eventhough it has clearly happened to some extent.   I have wondered about it too so today I have been asking Japanese friends the reason why so many people were left unaided for so long (still are in some cases).  It seems that people here are asking pretty much the same question and not getting much in the way of answers.

My own idle speculation is that aside form the organizational cluster"#$%&  one always gets in these situtions i was simply a combination of situational factors.  For example,  although the local emergency cehter ( a school gym for example)  is known localy ,  is it known nationally?  And even if it is,  can it be seen easily in a landscape rearranged by a tsunami,  surrounds by piles of stacked up wreckage and in snowy weather conditions.  Not  all these places are equipped with radio and te like.  I suppose from here on more attention might be paid to rescue signlling devices.  It was probably assumed that a local center would be used during a quake and then people return to their homes rather than being the only place left standing.

Anyway,  I have a recital t tomoorw to rasie funds and am seriously out of practice so I`ll sign off here.


March 20, 2011 at 12:32 PM ·

Good luck with your recital, wish I could hear it!  Al, I've been thinking the same thing you wrote all along.  I figured it must be logistically much more difficult to accomplish this than I can conceive.  At least I hope it's that and not complete incompetence.

March 20, 2011 at 12:53 PM ·

I believe they tried dropping supplies from helicopters in Haiti after the recent earthquake and it resulted in violence -- people fighting over the goods.  People were getting seiously injured.  They had to use military personnel to distribute food and water.  People were forced to line up in an orderly manner.  Even then, there were occassional violent outbreaks from people cutting in line.  Not sure if the same would happen in Japan.  I guess it all depends on how desperate people are.

March 20, 2011 at 01:50 PM ·

 not that i am positively biased toward the japanese society, i would think japan is possibly one of the last nations on earth to be of concern that people will become savages for food.  

besides, as human nature goes, if you drop more than enough, what is there to fight for?

interesting that they will drop rice which needs to be cooked with water which is potentially not that "clean" anymore.  but what do i know!

would you do multiple small drops all over or couple large drops if you are concerned about bottlenecking?

March 20, 2011 at 03:44 PM ·

Al, now it just seems that you are looking for things to nitpick.  Rice is a major staple of the Asian diet, is it not?  And I think the relief orgs have probably heard of bottled fact:

Sailors and Marines have delivered about 129,000 gallons of water and 4,200 pounds of food. (March 17)

I know I am not there (and since Buri is, I am inclined to trust his assessment of things), but I wonder if a lot of armchair quarterbacks in other countries do not have unrealistic expectations.  News may travel instantaneously, but it still takes time to move people and goods.  That seems to be reflected in this statement from Charity Navigator:

Do Not Expect Immediate Results, But Do Keep Tabs On What Your Donation Accomplishes- It takes time for charities to mobilize, to assess the problems that need to be addressed and to develop effective solutions. Donors need to be patient so charities will not feel pressured to plunge in and offer ineffective aid, simply to placate impatient donors. That doesn't mean donors shouldn't hold the charities accountable for delivering on their promises! Be sure to follow up with the charity in a few months to find out (a) how your donation was put to use and (b) if the organization needs additional support to complete the recovery effort.

March 20, 2011 at 03:59 PM ·

 thank you nicole for those links showing the relief effort underway.

perhaps the katrina nightmares make me lose faith...

March 20, 2011 at 04:57 PM ·

I'm sorry if I seemed a bit miffed, too.  I thought it came off as unfair and even politically motivated -- however --  I know that for anyone with a heart beating in them, it is just very frustrating to be a world away and feel comparatively helpless.  I'd be more worried, I guess, if people weren't reacting with a sense of urgency.

March 20, 2011 at 05:33 PM ·

 nicole, i know of a guy who lived in the katrina area.  he told me afterwards, on one side of one street no one got any help,,,from anybody so it seemed.  on the other side of the street, a diff section of the town, probably those with more resources and connections, people were able to rebuild.   even these days, years later, that abandoned section is still barren.  this went on under the slogan of katrina relief effort,,,

earlier when i mentioned about rice,  i was also thinking that perhaps canned food can be eaten more readily.  without power, it may be difficult to cook.





March 21, 2011 at 10:53 PM ·

Hi everyone at

I just wanted to say "Thank you" for your concern, prayer, love and effort you are putting into for the people in Japan.  

Though I live in Australia now, I'm from Sendai, Miyagi, one of the worst hit area.  It took me and my family in Sendai four days to be in touch with each other.  My nephew narrowly survived tsunami and watched his car swept away.  My friend in Sendai only just found out her brother was OK, and he has been helping others in the evacuation center he is staying.  He lives in Kesennuma city where tsunami and fire devastated the whole area.  The beaches we used to go to in summer... So many lives are lost, family destroyed and changed forever.

Thank you again for everything.  Sendai Symphony is very fortunate to have you guys giving them much needed support during this traumatic time.

Best wishes and Love to you all.


March 22, 2011 at 05:06 AM ·

For those of you in the Boston area, Harvard's Bach Society Orchestra is giving a concert to benefit the Japan earthquake victims, this Friday March 25th, 8 pm in Sanders Theatre, Cambridge.  The concert will feature Ryu Goto playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.  Ryu (whom you may know as Midori's brother) is a very talented world-class violinist.  I have been to a number of his recitals and have always come away amazed at his virtuosity.  Details of the concert:


March 22, 2011 at 11:44 AM ·


a friend of mine drove up to one of the towns near the center of the devastation.  He said the roads were basically open but the real diffiiculty was petrol rationing and queues for petrol which was shutting down some roads.  Here is the bulk of his message,  unedited and without comment:


>what I learned confirmed exactly what I expected (reason one)--that in spite of all the promises, all the money that has been donated, and all the talk on radio and TV, people are still desperate, and lack many basic essentials.  Electricity is available in most of the city of Iwaki, water is now available at local city offices (people can walk to those offices and fill up buckets or jugs with as much water as they want and can carry), but many people are sleeping in freezing gymnasiums without warm clothes, many are malnourished, and many cannot take baths.  This is after a week.  To me, this is expected but still inexcusable.  My mother volunteered for the disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina, and what she saw was even worse.  After 2 weeks, there were still many corpses rotting in the streets there.  So it was encouraging for me to see that the Japanese national government and local governments are far more active and more organized than their counterparts in America after Katrina.  There were no corpses where I went.  I saw houses demolished, cars on top of guard rails, big chunks of garbage like refrigerators and desks and sections of wall from peoples' houses, but you can tell that they have already accomplished a lot there.  The streets have been cleared so cars can get through, the military is there, police vehicles from other areas are there.  You can tell there is a modicum of organization.  But when we went to the police office, they could not direct us anywhere.  They did not seem to know what was going on.  They sent us to an elementary school which was supposed to be an evacuation center, but there was no one there.  They got on the phone and made some calls after that, and then sent us to the city office (one of the city offices, I think) where there were lots of fire trucks.  They were surprised to see us.  We were the only volunteers there when we arrived.  But they had about 20 boxes of things that had probably been donated, and there were 3 of them dividing things up, getting stuff ready to be distributed to different parts of the city.

I had never done anything like volunteer for a disaster like Katrina, and I was sick of people saying that there were people up there starving, so I just decided to go up there on my own, and sure enough, it was just fine.  The roads were open.  With a little effort, you can find out who needs help.  It's just that Japanese are waiting for some big organization, like the government to take the lead.>



March 22, 2011 at 01:51 PM ·

Sadly in my experiences in emergency situations, you will see 50 cars drive by and only one or two will stop to assist .Alot of the time you will see drivers that wittiness the accident and are the first on the scene, drive around the accident and keep going.There are to many out there that rely on others to do it.


March 22, 2011 at 09:22 PM ·

  I would support the idea of the community adopting the Sendai orchestra. Can we do some brainstorming about how to do this? Then Robert and I can figure out what we would need to set up, logistically, for the communication part of it. Some questions I have, or ideas:

Should we match up individual members to individual members of the orchestra?

To where would we send things, and what is needed? 

March 22, 2011 at 09:23 PM ·

 Buri, would you be able to get a list of the members of the orchestra? Is there anyone else on your end who could help?

March 22, 2011 at 10:14 PM ·


mnay thanks for your help. That kind of stuff is easy. Your thinking matches up with the ideas I have been trying to put forward over here.IE Yes,  its importnat to throw money at the problem in a general sense but very often a more minimalist approach in which individual names and faces are matched to counterparts can be more productive in the long run.

It`s in the pipe line as it were.  Talk to you later.



March 23, 2011 at 12:18 AM ·

What do you mean by adopting?  Could I fly a member over to my house and keep it?  I want a cellist.

March 23, 2011 at 01:45 AM ·

Emily, then I want their best violinist.  free vacation You stay here, I feed you for free, you can visit the city all day while I'm at school and borrow my violin and bow to practice but I want lessons! 

Well that would look as if we profit of their misery, no?   That's not nice...

Anyway, I want to know too what they mean by "adopting".  It seems like an interesting project.   Anything that helps these unlucky people worths trying


March 23, 2011 at 01:58 AM ·

Here is the web site of the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra:

Here is a list of their musicians:

March 23, 2011 at 02:51 AM ·

Anne-Marie, people like to feel useful, so don't feel bad giving someone employment.  I would seriously keep a cellist at my house, but I'm afraid it wouldn't make up for everything they lost, unfortunately.

Keep me updated on this adoption idea!


March 23, 2011 at 04:51 AM ·

A few brainstorming ideas:

- provide them with advertising space sponsored by the community here.

- discover their needs (lost/damaged sheet music, instruments, equipment, etc...)  and see what we can come up with ($$$ , goods, services, etc..)

- match individuals for moral support (akin to the pen-pal idea)

March 23, 2011 at 05:38 AM ·

How about helping set up a performance tour - and getting some superstars to play with them (even better if they are japanese)?  I think there would be an enormous outpouring of support and any profit from the concerts could be used back home.

March 23, 2011 at 10:30 AM ·


sorry, I wrote a brief response earlier and the computer wouldn`t send it.  It`s the kind of idea we need to keep kicking around but at the same time my own personal view is that people are looking inwards right now,  being with family and figuring out how ot keep music going in the area.  However, thta`s just an opinion so I will float te idea along with everything else.   Should have some feedback soon I hope.



March 23, 2011 at 06:37 PM ·

Keep the ideas coming, and we can start a new thread about this. Let's avoid the word "adopt," Buri has said that it doesn't transfer well culturally. Actually, I think we need to name this effort. Something along the lines of: 

Musicians Helping Musicians: assistance for the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra

That's a little wordy!

March 23, 2011 at 10:33 PM ·

How about String Musicians Mutual Support Ensemble?

March 23, 2011 at 11:19 PM ·


well in the message I sent I just suggested something along the lines of `Sendai Philharmonic Support Society.`  I will ask my colleagues for something a litlte better along the lines of `friendhsip society` perhaps.



March 24, 2011 at 12:37 AM ·


Buri, if ever does have such a project.  May it be money or more "penpal"/moral support oriented.  Could you please make us a basic little course on Japanese culture.

I imagine that we have to use milder humour and way of expressing ourselves, what else??? 

In school we learned that West was "self centered" and that Japan was community/country centered.  it doesn't hurt to be careful to that one... 

Are they some things that we typically tell here that would insult them very much?



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