Wednesday, March 16 – Taiyaki and Aftershocks


A fantastic start to our day. Her cousin in Tokyo works for a large international company. They have sent a truck up to Sendai that should arrive later today for their workers there and have included 3 boxes of emergency relief for Yasue. We don’t know what’s in the boxes but it will be better than Christmas. Also, the International Clefs d’Or (concierges) heard of Yasue’s plight while watching CNN. The head of that organization, Michael Romei, is Chef Concierge at The Waldorf Astoria in NY. They connected Yasue to concierges in Tokyo, Yokohama and Sendai and are working to get her relief. Both of these efforts were in no way related to our FAB 2 efforts but we quickly and happily included them in our network.

I can’t emphasize enough that we are more blessed than most and if all the FAB 2’s efforts pay off, we will be sharing food with as many earthquake victims as we can. Yasue is currently feeding herself, her mother and the three other patients in her mother’s room as even the patients’ food is severely rationed. There is no way Yasue and her mom could eat and not share with the others. So, she stands in long, cold lines and then splits the food 5 ways. (It started as a 2-person room but the hospital is of course slammed. More patients arrive constantly. More food does not. The doctors and nurses – whose families are also caught up in this mess – are working tirelessly to keep up.)

Every once in awhile, a concerned person will ask me about the nuclear plant. That is not our worry right now. Our mantra at FAB 2 is “Only One Worry at a Time.” At first we were worried about Yasue and her mother. Then, that worry was replaced by worrying about their access to water. Then we worried about their access to food. Then we worried about whether or not her home was still there. Then we worried about whether or not she could get back to the hospital. So, our current and only worry is solving this last mile problem.

Of course, the professional relief effort is still our best hope. We take great comfort in the incredible strength of the Japanese people—especially those in rural areas. They wait calmly in lines. Neighbors help neighbors. A vast contrast to some other recent natural disasters. I am biased having grown up in small-town Ohio but I have always said there is a reason why tornadoes don’t hit large cities—their people couldn’t handle it. After the storm, rural people look around, check their neighbors, grab a shovel and begin cleaning up. City folks look around for a government to blame. Clearly in Japan, from the countryside to the large cities, all the Japanese people have showed us that even in the most-dire situations we can still treat one another with respect, decency and kindness.


Tonight, it is snowing in Sendai. Yasue will spend the night at the house—her first night away from her mom since the quake 6 days ago.

Earlier today, she drove to a nearby town, Izumi-Cho, to get the emergency rations from her cousin’s company. She got 4 boxes of food/supplies, some water and a few liters of gas for her car – all valuable items that give us peace of mind and buy us time. I have no specifics as to what the food is or how much of it she received.

While going home, she saw that her favorite Taiyaki store was open.

Text: I am at Taiyaki store near house. 1-hour wait for 5 Taiyaki. No other store open.

So, the only food store that she had seen open all day just happened to be one of her favorites. Taiyaki are made basically from waffle batter that is poured into a fish-shaped mold and stuffed with a filling of your choice—sweet red beans, custard or chocolate. Eaten warm, they are very delicious and one of Ian’s and Yasue’s favorite snacks. She texted us while waiting line. Ian and I began laughing after getting Yasue’s text as this is a place he and his mom visit regularly when spending part of each summer in Sendai. She is very happy. The Taiyaki will be a well-deserved luxury for her. I’m sure she will take some to the hospital to share with her mom and others.

The house will be very cold and has no running water. Yasue is used to the cold nights – before the quake she slept there and they do not heat their house at night. Water is now our concern.

The aftershocks have settled down, so she said she feels safe at home. The victims in Sendai have suffered through more than 400 aftershocks, many quite large. It is so unnerving when the earth starts shaking again and each aftershock is yet one more reminder of the devastation and misery Japan is suffering through.

In fact, Yasue will start staying the night at home now that we know it is structurally sound. She of course will visit her mom daily as she had been doing for weeks before the quake hit, using the buses to get there. It is a long trip by bus, about 2 hours each way. If the buses stop running, she has enough gas in the car for maybe one or two more round trips as well. Basically, she would be back to her pre-quake routine. Except of course she does not have running water at home and also lacks regular access to food or electricity.

The situation at the hospital is increasingly unsettling. The staff is stressed. There are too many patients and too few supplies. Remember, they and their families are victims too. They too are cold, hungry and scared, adding to their stress. Even in the best of times, hospitals are not conducive to getting a good night of rest and Yasue has not been sleeping well at all. Hospitals are always busy, day and night. She does not have a bed there so getting comfortable is next to impossible. The room is more cramped now that additional patients have moved in. Then there are the aftershocks and the inevitable noise they generate when the patients and staff react to each one. She needs peace. She needs a dark room. She needs her futon.

We owe the hospital staff a debt when can never fully repay. We will always be grateful to them for letting Yasue stay there after the quake. Although we cannot repay them for their kindness, I hope to be able to do something for them soon. One Worry at a Time.