Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My thoughts on the Earthquake, Tsunami, and now Nuclear Catastrophe in Japan

Let me begin by saying that I feel so sad for the people of northern Japan. I'm sure no one could have imagined such a catastrophe would have ever happened to the extent that it has. Watching the news makes me anxious and it seems to me like the news agencies are trying to make it seem like the Japanese are being less than truthful about what has been happening at the reactors that are in trouble.

There are members of our Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai that have family members living in the area of the disasters. Some of them have been unable to reach their loved ones and we are all praying for them. I am extremely worried for my own sister in law that lives in Yokohama because of the potential for a nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere. While it is highly unlikely that this radiation would make it to the United States it is very likely to reach Yokohama should it become a significant release and the wind be blowing to the southwest. It is difficult to wrap your mind around the thought of just leaving the area when your entire life revolves around that environment. We called via skype and even though their house was tossed by the quake it has not yet reached the level of evacuation for them. I worry though that the news may come too late if a larger release of radiation occurs. I commend those heros putting themselves in harms way to try to gain control of the situation.

Food and Water is in short supply even in areas outside the disaster zone due to panic buying and problems with logistics. Still I am amazed at the calmness of the survivors that I have seen and the sense of order there still seems to be. Our Kenjinkai is having our annual New Years party tomorrow and one of the annual events has always been a fund rasing raffle. This year we will be rasing funds to give to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Tsunami relief effort.

I found this article and thought I would include it here.

Nagasaki survivor calmly waits out nuclear crisis in Tokyo

By Elaine Lies Elaine Lies

Fri Mar 18, 12:38 am ET

TOKYO (Reuters) – Kazuko Yamashita was five when the atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, destroying her home in a second and leaving her with a lifelong fear that every time she becomes ill, this time it is finally cancer.

Now, 66 years later, she wears a dark pink sweater, her dyed hair in a neat bob, and waits out Japan's current nuclear crisis in her daughter's Tokyo home, a two-storey house she also shares with her two granddaughters who play on a sofa behind her.

"I may be a bit too callous about this due to the fact that I was really heavily exposed to radiation, but I don't think this is anything to turn pale over," she told Reuters.

"People seem to be much too sensitive, though of course it's not really for me to say, and heavy radiation exposure is a serious thing. But I was 3.6 km (2.2 miles) from the bomb, and they've evacuated for 20 km (around the stricken nuclear plant). I really don't understand this kind of feeling."

Almost a week since massive earthquake and tsunami triggered the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, 240 km north of Tokyo, many foreigners and tourists have fled the country and rolling blackouts and radiation fears have gripped the capital.

Yamashita says she is not taking the situation lightly, even if she laments conflicting, overly alarmist news coverage.

"I can't say I'm not concerned, but I can't say I'm all that nervous," she said. "What I really worry about is my grandchildren. They're still so young."

Yamashita suffers from diabetes, thyroid issues and osteoporosis, which she attributes to the atom bomb that fell on her native city at the end of World War Two. "Radiation is something you only see the results of years down the road, so in that sense it's quite frightening."


On that hot summer day in 1945, Yamashita was shielded from the worst of the destruction by a heavy quilt thrown over her as the bomb exploded. "I didn't see a thing, but the noise was incredible -- the sound of glass flying around, and so many other things. Then when I got up a few minutes later, everything had changed. There was nothing left of the house but the supporting pillars, and the world around us was red," she said. "Now everybody's making such a fuss about the reactors in Fukushima. But it's nothing like that."

Perhaps due to her mother's influence, her daughter, Shigeko Hara, is also quite stoic -- even though she too suffers from a thyroid disorder typical of the children of atom bomb survivors.

"How safe is it really? That depends on the wind and what happens, and since I have children it is pretty scary," the 39-year old, dressed in a black sweater and elegant dark pants said as she sipped green tea in her living room, a wide-screen television on one side and a notebook computer on a shelf.

"But it's also really scary that the location of strong earthquakes seems to be changing. So many places are being hit, you have no idea where's next. I wear athletic shoes everywhere these days, even to work, because I never know what will happen and want to be ready for anything."

Like many Tokyo residents, she has a backpack at hand for disasters filled with work gloves, socks, shoes heavy enough to walk over glass, as well as aspirin and sticking plasters. But she also confesses that her emergency food was far past its expiry dates. A carton of mineral water and bag filled with cup noodles and snacks stood close by, ready to be added.

After the quake, she went to buy food and was shocked to see store shelves had been emptied of bread, milk and rice balls. She was able to buy milk on Wednesday after standing in a long line, but that was the first time in two days her daughters, 7-year-old Akari and 11-year-old Yuka, had any milk to drink.

The family is limiting its electricity use as much as possible, responding to official calls to conserve power, shivering at night under extra sweaters in Tokyo's unseasonable cold. She would like to dry her washing outside, but concerns about radiation have her hanging it inside instead.

Still, both she and her mother say their problems are small in the face of the hardships in the tsunami-hit areas. "I called a childhood friend who lives up near the reactor and said to her, 'We went through a lot more than this in the past," Yamashita said.

"Japanese people are strong, and good at enduring."

(Editing by Mark Bendeich / Daniel Magnowski)

I imagine that those in Japan will need to use their common sense in deciding the course of action for them to take. Listen with caution and make sound decisions erroring on the side of caution. Japan we are praying for you all. Be careful and stay safe.