When your travels have taken you to Fukushima, but you don’t actually visit Fukushima………

Recently, I was reading a site which reviews books. It’s called Kirkus Reviews. There was a review of a book of essays (non-fiction) in which the author’s “travels have taken her around the world, including Kyoto and Fukushima, Iceland, Mexico, Detroit and New Orleans…” (https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rebecca-solnit/the-encyclopedia-of-trouble-and-spaciousness/)

The book was too expensive for me to purchase for myself, so I requested the Fukushima Prefectural Library to purchase it. The library did purchase it, and I’ve just read the book.

(The book is called “The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness.” It is by Rebecca Solnit.)

It took me a couple of days of reading to reach the essay in which Solnit’s travels supposedly take her to Fukushima. (This essay is titled: The Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami: Aftermaths in Japan.)

But Solnit’s travels do NOT take her to Fukushima. (In fairness, she likely went through Fukushima on the bullet train. But no where in the essay does she say she stopped in Fukushima, visited Fukushima or even talked to a Fukushimer.)

Solnit’s travels take her to Iwate.*

And good!!!!!

The coast of Iwate Prefecture was devastated, absolutely devastated, by the March 2011 tsunami.  She visits one of the worst hit areas, though, a town in Iwate where 10% of the population was killed by the tsunami. She talks to survivors from that area. I think it’s wonderful that she visited Iwate. Her visit, and her caring, probably meant so very much to the people that she met.

So, uh, why then does the reviewer at Kirkus say that Solnit’s travels took her to Fukushima?

Obviously, it’s a mistake. And we all make mistakes.

But why was this mistake made?

I can think of a couple reasons:

1.) The reviewer did not actually read the essay well and thus did not notice Solnit did not visit Fukushima.

2.) The review does not realize that Fukushima is separate from Iwate. And that both Fukshima and Iwate are in Tohoku.

…..So this begs the question, why didn’t the Kirkus reviewer write the truth? That is:  Solnit’s travels have taken her around the world, including Kyoto and Iwate, Iceland, Mexico, Detroit and New Orleans….

I don’t know, I’m not the reviewer. Probably it was an honest mistake.

But honest mistakes like these are VERY UNFAIR to the people of Iwate and Miyagi.

Americans often use the term “Fukushima” to refer to…..I’m not sure…….But it is being used WAY TOO LOOSELY.

Using the term “Fukushima” loosely ignores those in other prefectures who were also affected by the quake and its tsunami. (The tsunami did kill people here in Fukushima. And other prefectures, as well. Not only Fukushima Prefecture, not by any means.)

Solnit herself is on the up-and-up. She seems very caring and never claimed to have actually visited Fukushima. She was very supportive of the community she visited in Iwate Prefecture. I applaud her in that.

*Rebecca Solnit also says that while in Japan, she visited, um, I hope I have them all: Sendai (She does not say this, but Sendai City is in the prefecture of Miyagi and is located in Tohoku. Miyagi was also devastated by tsunami.) Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima. (If she visited other places during her stay in Japan, she did not include them in her essay.)



Melted-Down Fuel Removal at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant will commence in 2021, according to new timeline

Yesterday, I was at the library, reading the English newspaper The Japan Times. One of the front page stories was about the new timeline for removal of the melted-down radioactive fuel at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

According to the new timeline, removal will begin in 2021.

I’m sure it will be done by hardy robots. It is not possible for humans to get near the melted-down fuel, due to its high radioactivity.

Three reactors melted down, and the fuel in them totals 800 tons. (Amy’s note: One ton is equivalent to 2,000 pounds.)

According to my calculations, 800 tons equals:

160 elephants


3 AN cargo airplanes


800 polar bear


266 pickup trucks


106,666 turkeys

But the 800 tons of fuel is radioactive so make that:

160 extremely deadly elephants


3 extremely deadly AN cargo airplanes


800 extremely deadly polar bears


266 extremely deadly pickup trucks


106,666 extremely deadly turkeys

Anyway, here is the article:



Here is a lovely timeline from the enemy TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company.) TEPCO owns the plant and it is their responsiblity to clean it up.


By the way, I don’t have to worry about TEPCO reading my blog and turning off my home’s electricity as payback for saying mean things about them. I don’t live in the Tokyo area, thus TEPCO doesn’t provide my electricity. Fukushima City is in Tohoku, and we get our electricity from Tohoku’s electricity company.

(numbers for determining what weighs how many tons are from reference.com)


Netflix’s TV show “Daybreak” which glorifies apocalyptic disaster, making it seem “fun” for kids…..

I wrote a poem:



Another boring day

at school

We wanted to play

but we had to study.


Quake! QUAKE!

Quick, kids!


An ecstasy of water

killling our parents

and our grandparents

pulling them under

the green sea.


Meanwhile, having a meltdown

I cried and cried like I was

a two-year-old again

but nobody comforted me

Mommy and daddy were gone.


Netflix, you would not tell with such high zest

to teenagers ardent for some unadulterated fun

The Old Lie:

Dulce et Ludorem est

Your father and mother are dead.




by Amy Lange Kawamura

based on Wilfred Owen’s poem DULCE ET DECORUM EST




Space Park Museum, Koriyama City

Today, I’d like to share some old photos from Koriyama City.

Koriyama City is the biggest city (population-wise) in Fukushima Prefecture.


Behind me is a building which has a museum at its top.


Here I am! At the museum!!!!


Looking down.


Above is a model train set.


Did you have super high-speed trains where you live?

In addition to Japan, super high speed trains are also in the People’s Republic of China, Europe, Saudi Arabia, South Korea….





Koriyama City!!!!!!

I am a huge fan of exclamation points. Notice how much nicer they are rather than:

Koriyama City…..

Koriyama City????

Koriyama City%%%

Koriyama City”””””

Koriyama City$$$$$$

So let’s keep exclamation points alive and well. The more, the better. It’s the little things in life that bring joy.  !!!!!




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.


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.)


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.


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




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?



Do not be overcome

By the battle

There is

One more point!

One more point!

Throat Lozenge



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


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…


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?


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.


For example, can you explanation using this diagram?


It’s not written on this.


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…


Ah, steam?


I think it is steam.


That’s steam in that video.


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


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


Yes, I think it was intentional.


So it was intentional.


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


And that’s in the middle of the screen–


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)


Professor, have you had experience in this before?


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.


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


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


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


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


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–


And twenty minutes–


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)


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


Yes. Yes.


Thank you very much.


Thank you very much.


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.