---  Here are scenes of our life in Japan - 2011  ---

2012 pictures

Undokai - School Sports Festival

Alisa in the 6th grade

Alisa made 2nd (she's the 2nd from left)

Julian - cheer leading


Alisa building the human statue

(with Family Shimoda and Family Kakita)

The outdoor parent's base - also used for lunch

Hanami & Birthday Party !
With Tanaka-Family (2011-04-10)

Desaster in Japan

April 02 - 09:35am (Local Japan Time):
Life in Yokohama is pretty much back to Normal.
We are still monitoring the situation, of course, but do not expect much radiation trouble directly from Fukushima any more. What is more worrysome is the probability of contamination of water and food.
How to deal with that ? "Bring your own Geigercounter" to the Restaurants and Supermarkets ?
Currently, we are checking tap water and food we bought, but did not detect anything out of the usual.

22.03. - 20:00 (Local Japan Time):
Back in Yokohama.
Highway was normally crowded with trucks and cars, nothing special.
Until one of the last Service Areas (Ebina) before our Yokohama exit, Gasoline was available without limits or waiting time. In Ebina we had 12 cars before us, waited 15 minutes for our turn and re-filled 6 liters. Limit was set to 30 liters.
But I have a full tank now ! Ready to escape again, if needed....

As for radiation, checked our House and Garden, Internet, etc. --> no increased readings today.
Below are pictures with my in-laws before departing to Yokohama:


21.03. - 09:35 (Local Japan Time):
The imminent danger seems to be over and the situation has stabilised to some degree. We regard it now safe enough to return to Yokohama.
In order to have some spare gasoline, I tried to siphon gasoline out of the Honda Odyssey, but had no success, probably due to the tank design, that avoids a hose to be pushed into the tank.
Anyway, we will buy rice and other food that is currently on low supply in the Kanto area and then head back tomorrow (Tuesday).

Food poisoning from radiation will be an issue for the next months and years.
If somebody wants to avoid this problem, the only way would be to leave the country for good.

18.03. - 14:21 (Local Japan Time):
Just stumbled over yet another attempt to explain how harmeless the radiation threat is (Yahoo News):
"At its worst, radiation in Tokyo has reached 0.809 microsieverts per hour this week, 10 times below what a person would receive if exposed to a dental x-ray."
--> The point is, that I do not have a dental x-ray every 10 hours or CT scans every day. We are talking about a dosis (equivalent) here, and a dosis is accumulated over time.
Apart from that, I wonder which equipment the Yahoo source uses to measure down to 1 nano Sievert accuracy....

18.03. - 09:23 (Local Japan Time):
German embassy has issued a letter of advise to evacuate the area Tokyo/Yokohama until the situation in Fukushima improves.
Consequently, we will stay here in Fukui for the time being.

To keep up the good spirit, below are screenshots from TV, that explain how to improvise a Baby diaper from a plastic shopping bag:

17.03. - 09:54 (Local Japan Time):
OK, just had a good laugh (out of disbelieve).
Helicopters unloading water over the reactors.
TV just showed live video footage. Obviously a desperate activity - and it appears so helpless due to the wind taking it all away from the targeted area.
See zoomed picture below:

16.03. - 20:12 (Local Japan Time):
Enjoyed Sushi with the parents-in-law who just returned from Paris today.
Upon return to the house, bad News from Reuters - so we will stay here for the time being, no matter what experts from UK, US and so on say. Last but not least I am worried about contaminated particles blown to Yokohama and inhaled by us. Surely I do NOT want to undergo all the trouble with face masks, protective clothing and so on !

Quote Reuters - Now all 6 reactors of #1 facility are overheating :
"High radiation levels prevented a helicopter from flying to the site to drop water into the No. 3 reactor -- whose roof was damaged by an earlier explosion and where steam was seen rising earlier in the day -- to try to cool its fuel rods.

The plant operator described No. 3 as the "priority." No more information was available, but that reactor is the only one at Daiichi which uses plutonium in its fuel mix.

According to U.S. government research, plutonium is very toxic to humans and once absorbed in the bloodstream can linger for years in bone marrow or liver and can lead to cancer

The situation at No. 4 reactor, where the fire broke out, was "not so good," the plant operator added, while water was being poured into reactors No. 5 and 6, indicating the entire six-reactor facility was now at risk of overheating."

In addition, there is no realistic chance of getting hold on gasoline in the Yokohama area, and the supply of living essentials such as water and food is grim.

A look into TUV Rheinland Japan, Fukui Office :

16.03. - 10:23 (Local Japan Time):
Well, here some thoughts about "Panic" and the Japanese.
It is true that the was no panic so far as to compare to panic in other countries.
No looting, shooting or killings as we know from such situations.
But the japanese panic expresses itself in another way:
In one Convenience Store I saw people buying rather useless stuff, just in order to buy something. (Usefull things were already sold out).
One man bought 5 boxes of "Saran Wrap" - plastic foil - nothing else. What on earth would you need all this plastic wrap for ?
Another man had his shopping basket essentially full with dozens of Tuna cans. Bon Appetit !
Hundreds of meters of cars lining up for gasoline, even far down to the South West.
That's the way Panic expresses itself in Japan.

16.03. - 07:00 (Local Japan Time):
It's kind of nerving that the Japanese TV permanently shows the Fukushima #1 Power Plant as it looked before the accidents (nicely painted and engulfed in beautiful sunshine) .
Is that supposed to calm down the public ?
I would be interested to see how the plant looks RIGHT NOW.
Anyway, one channel just showed old recordings from inside the plant buildings.
How old are they ?
The Nuclear Power Plant in Switzerland I worked for in 1990 appeared far more modern.
I loose faith every minute....

15.03. - 22:45 (Local Japan Time):
Arrived in Fukui - got the things out of the car - settled down a little with my first beer - and immediately had the next earth quake. Epicentre in Shizuoka, but quite strong even in Fukui !
Looks like the epicentre is moving southwards ?
Getting Gasoline was difficult all the way - up to Nagoya.
Even in Fukui - on the Highway - they limit the amount to 20 liter for each car.
So, anyway safe for the next few days.
Parking area Ebina - 300m queue for Gasoline, Gotemba 100m, Shizuoka 50m.
Appreciate that my employer (TUV Rheinland) provides the provisions to shift the working area.

15.03. - 13:27 (Local Japan Time):
My Geiger counter has (subjectively) doubled the number of clicks.
It now shows about 1.5 counts per second, 90 counts per minute which should still be ok,
considering the natural background radiation at some points.
We are now preparing to leave, as the situation around the reactors are reportedly still worsening.
Now number 4 is said to be in trouble.

14.03. - 21:16 (Local Japan Time):
No unusual radiation levels around our house, so we stay another night.
Here a glimps at my Emergency Power-Out Power Supply - simple but effective !
Good to operate TV, cable tuner, Gas Heater and Nintendo Wii for a couple of hours :

14.03. - 17:45 (Local Japan Time):
Power outage did not occur - neither at 15:00 (as originally announced)
nor at 17:00 (as announced later).
So I am back at the PC to see what's going on and to answer
all the e-mails from friends and relatives.
Still no increased radiation measurable with my Geiger Counter !


14.03. - 15:06 (Local Japan Time):
Die AKWs sind eine Sache, eigentlich beunruhigt uns eher mehr dass es keinen Nachschub mehr gibt.
Die Läden sind leer, die Tankstellen sind ausverkauft und haben zu gemacht.
Nach Auskunft der Angestellten dort ist zwar Nachschub bestellt, kommt aber nicht.
Mein Tank ist noch halbvoll.
Damit würde ich im Normalfall gute 300km wegkommen, aber im Ernstfall ist wahrscheinlich soviel Stau dass man nur im Schrittempo vorankommt.
Wir hoffen immer noch auf das Beste.
In 20 Minuten ist unsere Region dran. Dann ist der Strom für 3h weg.
Ich hab' (als guter Ingenieur...) mir aber eine Notstromversorgung eingerichtet, da können wir weiter TV guggen und so.

13.03. - 12:36 (Local Japan Time):
Was genau los ist weiss ja wieder nur eine Handvoll involvierter Leute.
Wie es aussieht und berichtet wird, sind die Kuehlsysteme bei mehreren Reaktoren in der Gegend ausgefallen.
Die Evakuierungszone um den einen Komplex wurde auf 20km ausgeweitet.
Explodiert ist anscheinend erstmal nur die Aussenhuelle aus Beton, durch Gas das sich dort angesammelt hatte.
Ob die Staebe schon schmelzen weiss man nicht, ist aber sehr wahrscheinlich.
Problem ist das Durchschmelzen in's Erdreich.
Wuerde dann das Grundwasser verseuchen.
Momentan versucht man mit Bor versetztes Meerwasser in den Reaktor zu pumpen um die Staebe zu kuehlen.
Von "Unter Kontrolle" kann man also auf keinen Fall reden.
Auf jeden Fall haben AKW Gegner nun ein schlagfertiges Argument bekommen.
Zum Glück habe ich einen Geigerzaehler mit mir.
Die "Counts per second" haben sich hier nicht erhoeht.
Mal sehen.

All ok here, nothing to worry, except the thread from the crippled nuclear power plants.
We are about 250km away, should be plenty, but we are preparing for evacuation just in case it gets much worse.
It all started with a small shake in the afternoon, which became so much heavier.
I will go to office tomorrow, let's see how it develops.

12.03. - 15:06 (Local Japan Time):
All ok with us, but this quake was the strongest I ever eyperienced in Japan. Unbelievable.
Luckily, basically for a joke - I went out of the building when it started and was still small - everybody laughed at us wearing the TUV earthquake helmet - you can imagine.
But then it got so strong. It was almost impossible to stand outside, we had to hold on to a tree not to fall down. Our house is ok, only books fell out of the shelf.
But the damage done in northern Japan is terrible.
And now we fear the trouble caused by the problems in the Nuclear Power Plant.

Album: Visit to Minami-Yamata Shrine



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