Monday, March 28, 2011


The other day I was so worried about the low number of people volunteering to help around the Asahi area here in Chiba. On TV they said that they had been able to recruit only 100 people and that wasn't enough. Today I heard that Iikura-sensei and some other faculty members and students had been to the area to help and that there seems to be more people involved now. That was a relief as I've noticed that people are focusing more on the north part of Japan whereas volunteers are also needed here in Chiba where lots of people lost their homes or need help cleaning up their houses.

I could not hold my tears when I saw this report on the volunteers assembling wooden coffins in the north area of Japan. They were making 500 or so per day, but they couldn't catch up. The saddest part was to see how they had to start burying people in long lines. As you know, the law in Japan states that everyone needs to be cremated. However, there are limits to the number they can handle in a crematory so a decision was made to start burying people in lines--just one next to the other. All very sad.

Receiving diplomas quietly

On Saturday not all but most of my advisees came to JIU to receive their diplomas. Unfortunately the graduation ceremony was canceled this year and the girls didn't have the opportunity to wear the traditional "hakama" they had already rented for the ceremony. I certainly hope that this will be the only group in the history of our university not to have a commencement and celebrations. I also hope this group of students will lead their life with dignity and will play key roles in the revival of this nation. I am proud of having been part of their life the past four years and wish they'll always come back--we are family now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Many missing

It is a relief to hear that food and gasoline have reached most of the shelters in the Tohoku area, but it's still painful to see the teenagers who haven't found their parents yet working as volunteers and trying to help the elderly cheer up. In one of the shelters people could eat only one rice ball per day and the elderly would say they wanted to give their food to the high school kids as they needed more energy to run around. Some of our students at JIU are still looking for their parents and we continue to pray.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


It's been nine days and we have students who haven't been able to find their parents and close relatives yet. I've been praying, praying. The front page of the paper indicates the death toll every morning: 60, 621, 1587, 3105, 4837, 5145, 5694, 6911, and 7348 today. Approximately 180,000 are reported missing. We want to remain positive--we have to.

Cleaning up my office

Yesterday I went to JIU for the first time since Saturday and I spent a few hours throwing away all the broken glass there was. Vases, plates and many photo frames were broken. The plants were all on the floor and on my couch. I wasn't able to finish cleaning up and I kept thinking about the people who didn't have a place to clean up and reorganize. I'll go back on Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Earthquake in Shizuoka

I was mistakenly not worried about one of my advisees when I thought that she was safe back in her hometown in Shizuoka Prefecture. I jumped off my couch when I felt the earthquake around 10:30 PM last night and when I heard that it was a 6+ in Shizuoka. Fortunately all seems to be OK as the buildings in Japan are really earthquake proof.

The government has announced power cuts in Chiba today as well, so I guess we'll continue having transportation difficulties and we'll remain short in gasoline and food. This will be my 4th day inside the house.

Professor Arboleda had taken some photos during our evacuation at JIU. I was freezing cold and was trying to get some heat from a student and keep it using that special golden sheet. It worked. At that time we still didn't know about the tsunami and we didn't know we were going to have to stay on campus either.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Thursday: a day of celebrations in Tokyo.
Friday: shocking news and personal experience of the big earthquake. Panic. Impossible to contact students and family. Hundreds of us are together at JIU. Blackouts. Fear.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday: the situation gets worse. The numbers escalate. We are all saddened by the large number of bodies that are being found by the seashore and by the suffering of all family members. We have no gasoline, no food on shelves and the aftershocks keep scaring us.
Tuesday: we know for sure that what we are going through here in Chiba is nothing compared to what the people from Iwate and Miyagi are suffering now.

Our graduation ceremony and other programs this week have all been postponed.
Thank you for your prayers. We all need that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tea at Mariage

My advisees invited me to tea at Mariage yesterday. I had been there with some of them, but it was the first time for four of them. I'm glad we were able to spend this time together at my favorite tea place before they graduate and go their own ways. Thank you, everyone, for the tea, cake and the gifts.

Graduation Party

Graduating students invited us all to this big graduation party at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo. Hundreds of students were dressed up and we had a good time over lunch yesterday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Good company & good chocolate

Yuka and Ayako came visit today, and when they were in my office Tashima-sensei showed up with a box of my favorite See's Candies chocolates: coconut and almond clusters!

Soba at Tokyo An

I think that every year the closer we get to graduation day the more lonely I feel. I had dinner with two students who will be graduating on March 18th. Luckily, Maki is going to stay two more years as she decided to go to graduate school here at JIU.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Celebrating over sushi

My new mug

I used my new mug today and it felt heavy, but from the photo you can tell why.... I got it as a gift at the Homecoming in Riverside.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oh Peanuts!

Shinta kept his promise and brought me peanuts before his graduation.... Ito peanuts are certainly excellent! Thanks, Shinta!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Back in Japan eating sushi!

Our flight was delayed, but we had a safe trip back. I went to one of my favorite sushi restaurants directly from the airport. I had dinner with my former boss and his wife. They now live in Barcelona and they are leaving Japan this morning. It was nice catching up with them over great food.

Leaving California

It's always very interesting for me to see the number of Japanese people who buy sushi at the airport before flying back to Japan. I am amazed at how they cannot wait 11 hours.... This time I found my favorite Haagen Dazs flavor at LAX: pineapple coconut. Guess who is holding the third waffle cone?

My favorite dessert

After the Homecoming event, we went to Mario's. They have the best dessert: ginger creme brulle. It's simply fantastic.


On Friday I participated in the Homecoming event of the UCR's Graduate School of Education with Dean Duffy and her husband John. It was held in this beautiful building downtown and it was my first time participating in that type of event. It was good to see some professors who were teaching when I was a graduate school and it was good to see how the school remains strong.