Friday March 25 – Waiting in line pays off, with many firsts.

In Sendai, relief comes for those willing to wait. And wait. And wait.


A line of more than 50 people greeted Yasue when she went grocery shopping for meat.


It has been so cold lately and it is snowing again.

I walked to the neighborhood vegetable shop around 8 a.m. this morning. After waiting in line, I bought a dozen eggs, my first since the quake on March 11, and some mountain vegetables! Once I got the vegetables and eggs home, I proceeded by car to pick up the care packages from my cousin Akiko’s company. She told me yesterday to expect two large boxes that she and others at her company had packed for me, including Mr. Miyazawa, the Sendai branch manager. I am still amazed that even people who do not know me are willing to help.

On the way to get the boxes, I noticed a supermarket, Yoku Benimaru, had a line about 50-people long. That is a pretty short line, so I decided to join those waiting. The temperature was about 37F so I was happy I only had to wait about 20 minutes. I was talking with the lady behind me and she told me that she just got her water turned back on about two days ago. Again, I feel so fortunate.

They were selling many products by their entrance and were limiting each shopper to 20 items. I got more vegetables, mochi rice, chicken thighs and thin-sliced pork — the first fresh meat since the quake. I loaded my treasures into the car and once again headed to get the boxes from Akiko.

I was pleasantly surprised to see one more grocery store open! This store had even more items and they actually let you inside to choose items off the shelves. Many shelves were empty though. I was thrilled to be able to get natto but they did limit it to one package per person. For the first time since the quake, I was able to use my credit card and buy fresh natto.

Finally I drove to my cousin’s company and got the two boxes. Miyazawa-san asked if there was anything else I needed. How nice, I do not even work for their company. I thanked him and left.

I decided to drive to the hospital because my mother is getting packages from my Tokyo friends Eiko and Chiemi and mom has no space to store them in her room. What a nice problem to have! On the way to the hospital, I am noticing more and more cars on the street. Some more restaurants are opening as well. I saw a couple gas stations open, however, they had signs posted that read, “we can only sell gas to the customers who have a ticket.” I wonder how I can get a ticket? This will be my last trip to the hospital if I don’t get gas.

After parking her car in line the day before, Yasue had to wait more than 2 hours the following morning to get to the front to buy gas.

My mom is so happy now with her three roommates. A few of the hospital shops are open and they are selling limited things (bottled water, snacks, etc.) to the patients and their visitors. The food cart that visits the patients’ rooms is coming around more often now too. The patient meals will get better as well because they are expecting to get the natural gas turned on at the hospital very soon. It helps that the hospital is downtown as they will get gas first here.

On the way home, around 4:30 p.m., I saw some workers at a gas station near our house. There were already about 10 cars waiting in line. I asked them when they would be ready to open and they told me the next day at 8 a.m. Great news!!! I quickly drove home and dropped off all my packages and groceries. I hurried back to gas station to line up. By the time I got there, I was the 35th waiting! I parked my car in line and went home. I am going come back tomorrow morning to get gas. I am sure it will be a limited amount of gas, but sure will help.