My parents are safe and well at their home in Rokunohe, Japan.
My parents live about three miles from the Pacific coast in northeastern Japan, about 10 miles north of Hachinohe, and about 100 miles north of the hardest hit regions in Miyagi Prefecture. Rokunohe is a small village on farm land just south of Misawa, Japan.
Internet was restored on Saturday in his neighborhood and my dad emailed immediately to let me know all is well. Freezing temperatures and snow combined with the lack of power and fuel deliveries compound the misery of the survivors, but my dad says his 3kW photovoltaic panel and solar water heat have kept things comfortable at home. My parents also have a week of water, canned food and other supplies, and they’ve been cooking on a big Coleman camp stove using his stash of Coleman fuel.
He writes that personal sanitation is a problem for many of his neighbors: you might have enough drinking water, but water for bathing (especially hot water) and flush toilets is in short supply in this fastidious culture.
My dad also writes, “All the local gas stations are dry. Feet are always reliable.”
Misawa Air Base
Rokunohe is just south of Misawa Air Base, a joint U.S./Japan military installation and one of the few operating airfields in northern Honshu right now. American search and rescue teams fly into Misawa and stage their efforts from there. Sailors, soldiers and airmen from Misawa are helping out with recovery efforts in their area.
I saw a familiar name in the news. The American wing commander at Misawa, Colonel Mike Rothstein, appeared on the Japanese news. Mike and I were friends in high school at Yokota Japan but went our separate ways during the college years. I heard he flew jets but had no idea he was commanding a military base these days.
Misawa and nearby Lake Ogawara, incidentally, is where Japanese Imperial Navy aviators practiced their Pearl Harbor surprise attack. The U.S. 5th Air Force subsequently bombed the base and adjacent Misawa City (my mother’s hometown) into splinters during World War II, destroying 90% of the structures there. My Japanese grandmother, mom and her siblings spent the war hiding out in a cave, while my American uncle Bill Masoner became a Navy flying ace flying Hellcats over the South Pacific.
Oh, and my old man? He’s nearing 70 years of age and he’s volunteering with recovery efforts by translating for the English-speaking search and rescue workers. I’ve mentioned in the past that he spends his winter weekends climbing nearby snowbound mountains, so he should be fit enough to hike through the muck of devastated coastal Japan.
Gottfried and Beck
Many of my Japanese friends and some of my family in Japan are cracking jokes way more offensive than what Gottfried tweeted. Maybe they (and I) have the right to do that since we’re a little closer to the tragedy than most, but man, you’ve got to lighten up or this stuff will make you go crazy.
I can’t generally stand Beck, but his remarks about God or Gaia using the quake as a message doesn’t strike me as particularly shocking either. It’s not any different from the message of Godzilla in 1954, or to some speculation claiming a tie between the quake’s damage to global warming.