Monday, March 21 – An Update from Yasue

People wait in a long line just to get a ticket to buy bread from a neighborhood bakery. They will have to return tomorrow and wait in line again to convert their ticket to bread.

Yasue shares more on life in Sendai after the quake and tsunami:

Today is a national holiday Shunbun no Hi or Vernal Equinox Day.

I noticed there is now a bus route from my neighborhood to Sendai Station about five times a day. I am looking forward to trying that route to see if it will be quicker and easier to visit my mom. I packed her clean clothes and towels which I washed yesterday. I also have some food and an insulated bottle filled with hot Japanese tea for her and the other patients in the room. I have so many things to carry.

Japanese hospitals do not provide towels and pajamas for the patients. There is a coin-operated washing machine and dryer at the hospital. Currently, to conserve energy, we are not allowed to use them. So, I have to carry her clothes to and from the hospital when visiting. On the way to the bus stop, I noticed the neighborhood bread shop was giving out tickets to purchase bread tomorrow and the day after. I waited in line for my tickets and was told they would start selling at 10 a.m. daily.

The bus was on time and the driver told me which stop was closest to the hospital. This is the best way to the hospital if I time it right. It only took about one hour on the bus and about 15 minutes to walk to the hospital. Of course, there is no traffic on the roads so that helps too. From the bus, I was able to see a few open ramen shops with little to no line. I also saw two gas stations open but there was a very long line of cars waiting. I wonder how they know which gas station are open? Luck?

Some convenience stores in Sendai are open, but most, like this Lawson store, are not. Even those that are open have very little stock left on the shelves.

In downtown, I had lunch at a gyudon shop called Nakau. Gyudon is simmered beef and onions on a bowl of rice. This is the first time I ate at a gyudon shop in my life. I was surprised that the meal was tasty and reasonable. One bowl of gyudon is 290 yen (about $3). I also ordered fried chicken to take to my mom and her friends.

I discovered the Yamazaki bread shop was open and bought three pieces of bread (factory-made) for my mom and her friends. They must have just opened and I was lucky. One of the supermarkets (COOP) was open so I went inside. Sadly, I could not find any of the fresh meat, eggs or milk that I was looking for. Some convenience stores are open, but they do not have much stock.

Mom is doing well and one of her young roommates is helping her so much. She helps peel the apples I brought, gets her warm water, etc. Mom told me the nurses ask about me all the time and wonder how I am doing.

My Tokyo friend Kimie, her mom and her sister mailed three more envelopes to my mom with lots of snacks and a nice note. Sooo nice of them! My mom now has a good supply of rice crackers and snacks.

I did not know the bus schedule going home and waited about 30 minutes at the stop. The one-hour ride on the bus is not bad! As long as the bus comes on time, this will be the best way for me to visit mom. However, even the bus driver could not say for sure if they will be able to maintain this schedule.

My neighbors, a young couple, left a few days ago to visit their relatives in Iwate Prefecture. They are not back yet. They are both from the same small, coastal fishing village. Both of their parents’ houses were swept away by the tsunami. Her mother was found dead, but her father and sisters survived. His parents were safely evacuated. She told me that her family is very lucky that they found her mom’s body. Many people are still missing and their bodies might never be found . . .

It is very important for me to go outside and walk around to get information because I do not have any relatives or friends living in Sendai to give me information. I do not know much about the area since I never lived here in Miyagiken. I wish had a bicycle so that I could go further and explore.