Posted by Yuka Saionji on Mar 15, 2011
A heart-warming story from the Apple Store in Tokyo ...
I work at Apple at one of its stores in Japan. The earthquake hit while I was working on the first floor of one of their stores. As the entire building swayed, the staff calmly led people from the top 5 floors down to the first floor, and under the ridiculously strong wooden tables that hold up the display computers.
7 hours and 118 aftershocks later, the store was still open. Why? Because with the phone and train lines down, taxis stopped, and millions of people stuck in the Tokyo shopping district scared, with no access to television, hundreds of people were swarming into Apple stores to watch the news on USTREAM and contact their families via Twitter, Facebook, and email. The young did it on their mobile devices, while the old clustered around the macs. There were even some Android users there. (There are almost no free wifi spots in Japan besides Apple stores, so even Android users often come to the stores.)
You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on? In this digital age, that's what the Tokyo Apple stores became. Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones. Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.
Anyway, I mention this not because I work at Apple now, or because I'm an admitted fanboy, but because I'm genuinely proud of the Apple Japan staff and their willingness to stay open to help people that day. And I'm also impressed with the way Apple's products (and yes, Google's, Twitter's, and Facebook's) helped them that day. Even after we had to close, many of the staff stayed outside the store to fixing iphones and teaching people how to contact family or stay informed via wifi.
Because the trains and phones were down, almost everyone who worked in Tokyo was stranded deep in the city. All the hotels were booked, the roads were jammed, so hundreds of people were instantly homeless. Apple told all of their staff - Retail AND Corporate - that they could go sleep at the Apple stores. The Senior managers at the stores had been notified earlier and unbeknownst to us, had gone out to stock up on food and drinks after the very first quake hit.[Hide Full Comment]
A thoughtful letter from Sendai, by Anne Thomas ...
Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.
During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.
It's utterly amazingly that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."
Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.
We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.
There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.
Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.
And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.
They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend's husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.
Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.
Thank you again for your care and Love of me,
With Love in return, to you all,
[Hide Full Comment]
Touching video about the loyalty of a Japanese dog, who refused to leave behind his injured friend:
Jun Yasuda is a Buddhist nun from Japan's Nipponzan Yohoji Order, whose late founder, Nichidatsu Fujii, a friend of Mahatma Gandhi, began building the massive stupas, or peace pagodas, in response to the atomic bombing. There are now 80 peace pagodas worldwide, including in Grafton and Leverett, Mass.
Last fall, Yasuda joined an international anti-nuclear march that began at uranium mines in Australia and passed through Japan. They traveled through the north, the now-crippled nation's hardest-hit region. They stopped in the city of Sendai, which is near the epicenter of Friday's 9.0-magnitude temblor that killed thousands of people, leveled cities, left hundreds of thousands homeless and damaged nuclear power plants.
Japan, a country roughly the size of California, has 55 nuclear power plants. By comparison, there are 104 nuclear plants across the U.S., including six in New York.
Yasuda has devoted the past 40 years to walking thousands of miles bearing witness to peace by banging a drum slowly and chanting prayers. She advocates an end to nuclear power by replacing it with alternative energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind. She advises citizens to remain skeptical of government reassurances and corporate ads touting the safety record of nuclear energy. She has met many people who suffer from cancer and other illnesses as a result of radiation exposure. She has kneeled in around-the-clock prayer vigils outside nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuel dumps across New York state and beyond.
Yasuda prays that the devastation in Japan will return in a karmic way to heal the world.
Source: Times Union Article[Hide Full Comment]