One Year Ago…

…I was crouching on the floor in my laboratory at Tohoku University, feeling the ground shake violently, watching the walls shift, shelves break and things fall down. When the earthquake finally stopped, everyone asked “大丈夫?” (Japanese for “Are you OK?”) while coming out of the places where they had taken cover. Fortunately nobody in theContinue reading “One Year Ago…”

Goodbye, Sendai!

My exchange program is complete, so the time has come for me to leave Sendai. To be precise I had scheduled the departure for today, but typhoon “Roke” insisted on traveling the same route in the opposite direction (Tokyo to Sendai), so I’ll have to stay one more night. Nonetheless, it is now time toContinue reading “Goodbye, Sendai!”

Rebuilding Together!

Since the March 11th earthquake lots of encouragement banners, posters, flags and so on have been popping up all over Tohoku and Japan. When I went to the Aoba ward office on Wednesday, I noticed one I hadn’t seen before: The big text means “Forward together, Sendai!” and the smaller “Regeneration since 3/11”. Calling forContinue reading “Rebuilding Together!”

Japanese Election Campaign

Next Sunday will be election day for Sendai’s local elections. They were originally scheduled for spring but have been pushed back because of the earthquake in March. It’s difficult to hold elections when the basic infrastructure is not working, right? In the photo you can see a board with candidates’ campaign posters. In Japan, suchContinue reading “Japanese Election Campaign”

Exchange Student Goodbye Party

Last Wednesday we had the Closing Ceremony for Tohoku University’s exchange programs and afterwards a goodbye party. While I still have a few weeks in Japan, many exchange students have already left or will leave soon, so indeed a lot of goodbyes had to be said. Naturally, there were many speeches at the ceremony andContinue reading “Exchange Student Goodbye Party”

Sendai Tanabata Fireworks

With the Sendai Tanabata Festival just around the corner, we had a great fireworks display this evening. While most of Japan celebrates Tanabata (七夕, “seventh evening”) in July, Sendai’s festival is held from August 6th to 8th. This year that’s the same time as the Chinese equivalent, the Qixi Festival, which a Chinese friend calledContinue reading “Sendai Tanabata Fireworks”

Tohoku Rokkon Festival

Last weekend the 東北六魂祭 (Tohoku Rokkon Matsuri) was held in Sendai. The name means “Tohoku Six Spirits Festival” and is a reference to the special meaning of this festival, which was created after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. The six most famous festivals in Tohoku, one from each prefecture, joined forces to hold aContinue reading “Tohoku Rokkon Festival”

More Tsunami cleanup

Today I worked on a different part of cleanup: Instead of traveling to the affected area, I just stayed at church a bit longer and helped cleaning photos that had been found in the dirt. Some photos had been protected inside albums or similar things and recovering them meant just peeling those open and removingContinue reading “More Tsunami cleanup”

A farm in Wakabayashi-ku

Yesterday I went for volunteering in the tsunami-hit area again, this time in Sendai’s Wakabayashi ward (若林区). We met at 9:30 in the morning and went to a rice farm, where most of the buildings were still standing – more or less. This traditional style warehouse had been moved from its foundations. See the squareContinue reading “A farm in Wakabayashi-ku”

Start of Semester impressions

Today I’ve been back to my laboratory at Tohoku University for the first time since the day of the Great Tohoku Earthquake. Our building suffered only minor damage as shown by a green “inspected” sign, that also says to take care because some of the facade’s tiles have become loose. Some of the bathrooms inContinue reading “Start of Semester impressions”