Kokeshi—traditional doll from Tohoku Region

In my last post, the name of the book was: “The Little Kokeshi Doll from Fukushima.”

Kokeshi Dolls are traditional dolls. They are originally from the Tohoku Region, which is where Fukushima is located.

For us here in Tohoku, Kokeshi have a very recognizable shape: tall, slender, round. A traditional kokeshi keeps to a specific color sheme: Usually red, green, black. Kokeshi probably date back to the Edo Period (1603-1867.) Visitors would travel to hot springs here in Tohoku and purchase the kokeshi dolls as souvenirs.


Nowadays some (many? all?) Americans are familiar with Japanese kokeshi dolls.

However, when American think about kokeshi dolls, they are usually referring to modern kokeshi dolls, also called “Creative Kokeshi.”

For example, these are modern creative kokeshi dolls:

You can see the shape of a modern creative type of Kokeshi is very different than the traditional type. And a modern style can be painted in pretty much in any design.

(These two modern style kokeshi are from the Rakuten website: https://item.rakuten.co.jp/corazon/c/0000000773/


A few years ago, my son and I went to a workshop where we painted traditional kokeshi.

The above photo shows a map of Tohoku. Each region has its own particular type of kokeshi doll.

Futhermore, the craftsperson who made the doll will sign his or her name on the bottom.

Kokeshi dolls are a form of art.

First, the face is painted on.

In a workshop like this, we are not allowed to paint just any sort of face. We have to adhere to the traditional type.

In order to paint the stripes around the body, the wooden doll is spun around on this machine.

It wasn’t as easy as it looks!

I think, always, when one actually tries to do an artform for oneself, then we respect that artform so much more because we realize how difficult it is.

Finished Kokeshi. These are professional ones. (Not made by amateurs like me and my son.)

My son is finished painting his kokeshi. One doll was given to his Japanese grandmother and one to his American grandmother.

(And yes, this was several years ago…so my son does NOT look like this anymore!) ❤

The Little Kokeshi Doll from Fukushima by writer/illustrator Sunny Seki

While in the United States last summer, I purchased (from the internet) this book! It’s called“The Little Kokeshi Doll from Fukushima.”Kokeshi no Hanashi コケシのはなし.

It was written and illustrated by Tokyo-born Sunny Seki. — Sanii Seki サニー関 (文・絵)

He moved to the U.S. when he was a young adult and now lives in California. Here is his website: http://www.sunnyseki.com/

I absolutely love these illustrations!!!!!! Seki is so very talented.

The coolest feature of this book is that it is written in both Japanese AND English! That’s something I really appreciate, and rare to find in a children’s picture book.

I purchased the book with the intention of donating it to the school library of my son’s former elementary school (and where I am currently a library volunteer.)

On Thursday, I gave it to the school’s vice-principal.

Sunny Seki signed the book with a personal message to the kids at this school.

It means so much to these children to know that they are cared for by a writer/illustrator in the U.S. !!!!!!!

“Treatment Water Storage Tanks” (That irradiated water you might have heard about ….)

(above images from Irasutoya)


One thing that one must know about nuclear power plants is that they need water–a lot of water– to run. That’s why they are always built right next to a large body of water.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was built on the east coast of northern Japan, in Fukushima Prefecture, and it sent the electricity that it generated far away, down to a different region–the Tokyo region.

Click here and you can see a photo of Fukushima Daiichi from its sea side: https://mainichi.jp/graphs/20190307/hpj/00m/040/005000g/1

I’ll give my own translation of the Japanese written in that photo:

Top left, in white print: Current circumstances at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

From left to right, bottom: Unit 4, Unit 3, Unit 2, Unit 1*

Top, right, in background: Treatment Water Storage Tanks

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here is an article in English that explains why these tanks exist: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903190042.html

Quoting the article:

“Groundwater becomes contaminated when it flows into the buildings of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns in 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.”

Fukushima is mountainous, so the water flows from the mountains to the ocean in the form of groundwater. It passes throught the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and becomes radioactive with the substance Tritium. Normally, that water would then flow into the ocean, contaminating the ocean with Tritium. However, TEPCO is trying to catch that groundwater. After it catches the groundwater, it then stores the water in tanks (as shown in the photo.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are the statistics from TEPCO. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric) is the knucklehead company that owns and operates this nuclear power plant, so it’s a little like getting gun control information from the National Rifle Association.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommission/progress/watertreatment/index-e.html

Here’s information from the Fukushima government. https://www.pref.fukushima.lg.jp/site/portal-english/en04-02.html

Here’s a blog that has great photos of not only the water tanks, but also the land around the water tanks–so you can see a bit of the layout of the area. This blog seems to be run by, um, a cat and I think maybe the cat lives in Akita Prefecture (northwest of Fukushima Prefecture.) But I’m not actually quite sure. LOL https://beguredenega.com/archives/19495


*Notes: Each unit is a nuclear reactor. Do not be misled by the term “unit!”

Before the meltdowns, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant had six nuclear reactors in total.

Core meltdowns occurred in Units One, Two, and Three.

(Meltdowns did NOT occur in Units Four, Five, Six because they happened to be shut down at the time on March 11, 2011.)

DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT!

I’ll translate the Japanese on the package of KitKats at my local 100 yen shop.

 

Zettai ni

I lived in Fukushima before, during and after the triple tragedy of 2011.

Makerarenai

I want to tell American kids about Fukushima

Tatakai ga

About how much we love our home here.

Soko ni wa

But do American kids want to learn

Aru

About

Fukushima?

Mou 1 ten da!

I think they do.

Mou 1 ten da!

The meltdown in the former Soviet Union happened in 1986. Chernobyl HBO came out in 2019. The Blackbird Girls will come out in 2020.

Nodo Gusuri

The meltdowns in Japan happened in 2011. So will I have to wait thirty more years for my manuscript to be accepted and published?

Agi


Absolutely

Do not be overcome

By the battle

There is

One more point!

One more point!

Throat Lozenge

Flavored

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

images of flag free from https://www.irasutoya.com if credit is given to their website.

 

 

 

One of the first news reports in Japan concerning meltdown situation at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant…

This is a youtube video from a recording of when there was first obvious (seen by the eye) trouble at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant located on the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

I’ll translate using my own translation.

This is from about 4:30 p.m. on March 12 of 2011, so it was one full day after the quake struck.


The title of the video is: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Vapor Explosion

WOMAN:

This is a video of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant at 3:36 this afternoon.

What seems to be water vapor is coming out of the plant. It is coming out of the vicinity of the plant’s Reactor One.

In the video, you can see Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s Reactor One Building on the left. What seems to be water vapor is coming out of it.

Now a new news report…

YOUNG MAN:

Yes. We received a report from Fukushima that something is going on at the nuclear power plant…A short while ago, the video began to be shown. (Turns to older man) It looks like there was something like an explosion of smoke that was rising?

OLDER MAN:

Yes. As was explained earlier, something called a squib valve*, it was destroyed, how do I explain this–a thing like a disc, was destroyed, a type of valve that lets things flow.

YOUNG MAN:

For example, can you explanation using this diagram?

OLDER MAN:

It’s not written on this.

YOUNG MAN:

Yes. This square casement–

OLDER MAN: (he’s pointing at the diagram)

It usually comes from this line here, it’s called a “stack.”An exhaust pipes comes out here. That exhaust pipe has a filter. In that case, not all of the radioactive particles come out (into the air.) Ninety or ninety-five percent is pulled back down by gravity. So very little moves out.

And then I don’t know–It’s something that is important, what is called a “squib valve” is used. That’s steam (water vapor) coming out, steam, I think…

YOUNG MAN:

Ah, steam?

OLDER MAN:

I think it is steam.

YOUNG MAN:

That’s steam in that video.

OLDER MAN:

Yes–it has exploded–and that’s steam–I think that’s steam coming out.

YOUNG MAN:

So it’s steam. So it was released intentionally…? (意図的???I think I’m hearing the right word.)

OLDER MAN:

Yes, I think it was intentional.

YOUNG MAN:

So it was intentional.

OLDER MAN:

Normally it comes from the stack sticking up, the chimney–

YOUNG MAN:

And that’s in the middle of the screen–

OLDER MAN:

Yes, in the middle. It has a filter and exhaust is released there. I think this will not have a great influence. (影響力出るもない)

YOUNG MAN:

Professor, have you had experience in this before?

OLDER MAN:

No, I don’t know how it is released. It’s not a regular sort of thing to use a squib valve. I don’t know.

YOUNG WOMAN:

So this is something that is only done when it is urgent–

OLDER MAN:

Yes, I think it’s being done because it’s urgent.

YOUNG MAN:

Just before, we heard from a Fukushima report that the radiation level is twenty times greater than normal.

OLDER MAN:

Yes Possibly that amount was released from the filter all at once and there’s a possibility it will increase.

YOUNG MAN:

The video we are watching is not live. It was taken this afternoon at 3:36, in the afternoon at 3:36. That was about one hour ago–

YOUNG WOMAN:

And twenty minutes–

YOUNG MAN:

One hour and twenty minutes ago. This is what happened one hour and twenty minutes ago at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Uh–Gas was let out, violently like that (VIDEO OF EXPLOSION SHOWN ON THE SCREEN)

OLDER MAN:

When it was let out, it was from 0.75 MegaPasquals to 0.55 MegaPasquals comma about  0. 0.2 MegaPasquals, so about two atomospheric pressures (二気圧?), and so for this-Bang! It went down.

YOUNG MAN:

To the end, a thing called a squib valve can be used, but there isn’t one, and it is used to lower pressure.

What do you think the risk is?

OLDER MAN:

Uhhh–I believe that the very worst risk is that the nuclear power will cause destruction, and if we can avoid that, it will be a success.

Before this, how do I say this, the stack (unintelligible to me) we couldn’t take it out.

YOUNG MAN:

We just received a report. According to Tokyo Electric Power Plant, it is announced that nothing is out of the ordinary with the nuclear reactor.

OLDER MAN:

The meaning of “nothing is out of the ordinary with the nuclear reactor” is–we can take the meaning of there is not enough (unintelligible.) The most worrisome is that it’s that NOT that nothing is out of the ordinary. If there is nothing is out of the ordinary, there will be no harm.

YOUNG MAN:

This was what happened at 3:36. And now after this, for safety, people who live within a ten kilometer radius have been called to evacuate.

OLDER MAN:

Yes. Yes.

YOUNG MAN:

Thank you very much.

YOUNG WOMAN:

Thank you very much.

YOUNG MAN:

Now we have a report from Miyagi Prefecture.

*In Japanese, a squib valve is “bakuhaben” and yes, I did have to look this word up.


Please note that I tried to translate it as literally as possible and that’s why it doesn’t flow as well as English does to English speakers. I hope I did an accurate translation. There were a few parts that were technical (and also the older man was a rather fast and mumbly speaker) so those parts were hard for me to figure out.

 

Koriyama City, November 2019 (Part Two)

I love books.  I went to the Koriyama City Public Library while I was visiting their fine city.

After the quake in March of 2011, this library was closed to patrons due to damage (caused by the tremors) to the building. It took quite a long time for the damage to be repaired and the building to be declared safe.

Keep in mind that at that time, children could not play outdoors due to the radiation in the city. Thus they couldn’t play indoors and they ALSO could not go to structures which had been damaged (like this library.) It was not a good time for children here.

(My own son was seven then, and he is sixteen now.)

This library has quite a lot of books in non-Japanese languages.

In written material, the most common language you’ll find (other than Japanese, of course) in Japan is English. After that–Mandarin, Korean, French. Then maybe German, Spanish, Vietnamese.

However, materials in English far, far outnumber materials in the other non-Japanese languages. I consider myself extremely lucky to be living in Japan as a native English speaker and to have access to written material in my own language. It’s very much a privilege.

Japanese people have certain western characters they love: Audrey Hepburn, Anne of Green Gables, and Moomin.

(Yes, I realize that Audrey Hepburn is a human, not a fictional character. I hope you all know what I mean! 🙂 The image of Audrey Hepburn is very much loved in Japan…)

In United States, I don’t think I ever saw a single Moomin book. (Written and illustrated by Tove Jansson.)

But in Japan? Extremely popular!

At a fantastic restaurant in Koriyama City with other AFWJ members.

Itadakimasu!

 

 

Koriyama City, November 2019 (Part One)

Over the weekend, I went to Koriyama City (south of Fukushima City) to have lunch with the Koriyama City area women. I took a local train. (There is also a bullet train, but it’s expensive.) It takes about fifty minutes to get from Fukushima City to Koriyama City by local train.

I thought that the postures of the people sitting across from me were very interesting. I didn’t want to take their photo because it would be rude to do so. Instead, I sketched a drawing of them.

Population-wise, Koriyama City is the largest city in Fukushima Prefecture. They were having some sort of classic car festival that day.

What a cutie! Half-Chihuahua and half-Miniature Dachshund.

I will be honest. Two years ago, I couldn’t tell a Porsche from a Kia. However, there are fast cars in the manuscript I’m currently working on. So I’ve learned about sports car through research.

What’s the red car?

It’s a classic Porsche!

We don’t see classic cars in Japan much because the rules are quite strict regarding pollution, car insurance and so on. People tend to find it cheaper to upgrade to a new car rather than keep a really old car. these car owners must be real classic car lovers to have kept these cars in great shape over so many years.