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Monday, May 2, 2011

With Disasters; It's not about what someone can do for you. It's what YOU can do to help others

An article about Mr. Saga and his effort to bring happiness to the people of Tohoku
This is the owner and operator of Taiko Chaya, located near Asakusabashi Station in Tokyo. I first came across Mr. Saga during my morning commute from Inzai to Tokyo. Since I change trains at Asakusabashi Station, I sometimes find Mr. Saga at the bottom of the stairs, in his festival coat (happi) giving everyone a hearty "GUTS!" cheer in the morning in order to encourage them on during their difficult day at work.
Mr. Saga at the bottom of the stairs at Asakusabashi Station
He has been doing this for years. Most people just ignore him, I for one am thankful for him.

Soon after posting a video on Youtube of him doing this, I had a friend inform me that he was the owner of an Izakaya (A Japanese Bar) nearby the station. She even sent me a link to their web page. With this I organized a drinking party with friends from work that take the same route through this station. Not only is he a great guy but the food and the drinks at this place are SECOND TO NONE! If you want to experience the true old Tokyo, this is the place.
Myself and my co-workers getting a lift in spirit from Mr. Saga

The sashimi moriawase at Taiko Chaya

My happy co-workers at Taiko Chaya

Guts Ojisan himself, Mr. Saga taking a break and having a drink with us.

However, a more important thing you need to know about Mr. Saga is that he is from Tohoku and his hometown has lost many lives and is devastated from the recent quake and tsunami. Mr. Saga recently took it upon himself to determine what could he do to help. As a result, he bought two giant Tuna (each about 1,000,000yen or about $12,000 a piece) and took them up to his home town. For the past month, the people of the region have had a diet of rice balls and curry rice. If you have ever been here, you know the Japanese love their fish, and he came to deliver.

During disasters, one thing to remember is what YOU can do to help. Mr. Saga helps by bringing smiles where they are desperately needed, and he his great for doing so.

Please click here for a link to Taiko Chaya

Also, if you go to Taiko Chaya, make sure you send me a message because I will always jump at a chance to go.

Really Pretty Proud of this Picture.

Letting them out

Friday, April 15, 2011

USA Reiterates Travel Alert for 80km Radius Around Fukushima Dai-Ichi

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520


April 14, 2011

This Travel Alert replaces the Travel Warning for Japan dated March 31, 2011. This Travel Alert expires on June 15, 2011.

The assessment of technical and subject matter experts across United States Government agencies is that while the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains serious and dynamic, the health and safety risks to areas beyond the 50 mile evacuation zone, and particularly to Tokyo, Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture) nearby U.S. military facilities and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Gunma, Iwate, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, and Yamanashi, and those portions of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures which are outside a 50 mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are low and do not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens.

This analysis takes into consideration both various age groups and the classification of the severity of the situation at Fukushima Daiichi as a Level 7 event by the Government of Japan, which reflects what has transpired since the initial incident and the potential long-term effects in the area surrounding the plant.

This assessment reflects inputs from our national laboratories as well as the unanimous opinion of the U.S. scientific experts on the ground in Japan. Furthermore, they are consistent with practices that would be taken in the United States in such a situation. Based on the much reduced rate of heat generation in the reactor fuel after one month of cooling and the corresponding decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes, even in the event of an unexpected disruption at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, harmful exposures to people beyond the 50 mile evacuation zone are highly unlikely, and there would be a significant amount of time to best assess any steps that might have to be taken.

The situation at the plant is dramatically different today than it was on March 16, when we saw significant ongoing releases of radioactivity, the loss of effective means to cool the reactor cores and spent fuel, the absence of outside power or fresh water supply for emergency management, and considerable uncertainty about the condition of the site. Today, while the situation remains serious, and there is still a possibility of unanticipated developments, cooling efforts are ongoing and successful, power, water supply, and back-up services have been partially or fully restored, and planning has begun to control radioactive contamination and mitigate future dangers. Our coordination with the Japanese is regular and productive, and we have a greatly increased capacity to measure and analyze risks.

The Department of State has lifted Voluntary Authorized Departure, allowing dependents of the U.S. government employees to return to Japan.

We continue to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid travel within the 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. U.S. citizens who are still within this radius should evacuate or shelter in place.

Japan is one of the most seismically active places in the world. Tokyo and areas to the Northeast continue to experience strong aftershocks related to the March 11 earthquake. Aftershocks following an earthquake of this magnitude can be expected to continue for more than a year. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. See the Embassy Website for detailed information on earthquake safety:
http://japan.usembassy.gov .

American Citizen Services

U.S. citizens in Japan are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/ . U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulates. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy/Consulates to contact them in case of emergency.

For the latest U.S. Government information on the situation in Japan, please visit the Embassy website at http://japan.usembassy.gov . Updated information on travel and security in Japan may also be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1 -202-501-4444. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Japan, as well as the Worldwide Caution.

For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of either the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or one of the U.S. Consulates in Japan listed below:

U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
American Citizen Services
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
Tel: 03-3224-5000
After Hours: 03-3224-5000
Fax: 03-3224-5856

The U.S. Embassy serves U.S. citizens in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.


Osaka-Kobe: 11-5, Nishitenma 2-chome, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543; Tel: 06- 6315-5912, Fax: 06-6315-5914; serving Americans in Osaka, Tel: 06-6315-5912, Fax: 06- 6315-5914; serving U.S. citizens in Osaka, Aichi, Ehime, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kochi, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Shimane, Shiga, Tokushima, Tottori, Toyama, and Wakayama prefectures.

Nagoya: Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor, 1-47-1 Nagano, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001; Tel (052) 581-4501, Fax: (052) 581-3190; providing emergency consular services only (including death and arrest cases) for Americans living in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures.

Fukuoka: 5-26, Ohori 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; Tel: 092-751-9331, Fax: 092-713-9222; serving U.S. citizens in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi prefectures.

Sapporo: Kita 1-jo, Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821; Tel: 011- 641-1115, Fax: 011-643-1283; serving U.S. citizens in Akita, Aomori, Hokkaido, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

Naha: 2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City, Okinawa 901-2104; Phone: 098.876.4211, Fax: 098.876.4243, DSN: 645-7323; serving U.S. citizens in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Message to American Citizens from Ambassador John V. Roos

March 15, 2011 02:30

Today our hearts remain with our Japanese friends who, after suffering this devastating tragedy just four days ago, have to undertake recovery and reconstruction and address the ongoing nuclear emergency.

We understand that many of you are anxious and have questions in the shadow of the Fukushima emergency, since we are in the midst of a complex, constantly changing, and unpredictable situation. In this fluid situation, our commitment to our citizens is to accumulate accurate information and assess it sufficiently in order to make important judgments.

Since the first reports of trouble with the reactors, American nuclear experts have worked around the clock to analyze data, monitor developments, and provide clear assessments on the potential dangers. While at times we have had only limited access to information, I am personally committed to assuring that our experts have as much access and information as possible, and the necessary resources to understand the situation. I have personally been deeply engaged in these efforts.

After a careful analysis of data, radiation levels, and damage assessments of all units at Fukushima, our experts are in agreement with the response and measures taken by Japanese technicians, including their recommended 20kms radius for evacuation and additional shelter-in-place recommendations out to 30kms.

Let me also address reports of very low levels of radiation outside the evacuation area detected by U.S. and Japanese sensitive instrumentation. This bears very careful monitoring, which we are doing. If we assess that the radiation poses a threat to public health, we will share that information and provide relevant guidance immediately.

The United States will continue to work around the clock to provide precise and up-to-date information supported by expert analysis to ensure the safety and security of our citizens and to help Japan in its time of great need. U.S. citizens in need of emergency assistance should send an e-mail to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov with detailed information about their location and contact information, and monitor the U.S. Department of State website at travel.state.gov.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Japan Post Restricting Shipments to the USA

The Japan Post put out a notice on November 12, 2010 stating that they would be restricting parcels over 16oz starting November 17 to the United States until an indefinite time period.

There has been quite a bit of talk regarding this on the net here in Japan and many are severely panicking about this. However, if you really look at the notice from the Japan post, it states that parcels that are weighed by a scale and paid for at the post office, you should be able to ship your product normally. I will definitely be checking on this myself at the post office because if this affects my shipments to the USA this Christmas season, then it will truly SUCK.

UPDATE: I just went to the Akihabara post office and asked them about this notice. I have confirmed that individuals WILL NOT be able to send a parcel over 16oz. from Japan to the United States. However, those companies with a commercial account for more than one month will be able to send their parcels normally.

This basically means we are all SCREWED for Christmas.

Here is a link to the notice in the original Japanese:


Here is my translation of the post:

Regarding the suspension of some shipments to the USA

The President and Director of the Japan Post Corporation, Shinichi Nabekura has announced that due to the threat of recent terrorist attacks and reinforcement of aviation security in the United States, we will be ceasing any air shipments weighing over 453g (16oz) for an indefinite period of time beginning November 17, 2010. Once this threat has passed, we will announce the resumption of these shipments.

Shipments Affected by this Suspension:

CountryType of ParcelParcel WeightPayment Method
The United States and it's territories (Guam, Saipan, Northern Marianas, Midway, Puerto Rico, Samoa, & the Virgin Islands)Includes the following
  • Regular Air Parcels
  • Small Air Parcels
  • SAL Parcels
  • SAL Small Parcels
  • International Speed Parcel (EMS)
Over 453g (16oz)In principle, separate payment for shipment or parcels not weighed & calculated postage (paid with stamps, etc.)


Any parcels that are under 453g (16oz) will be accepted and sent as usual.