Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The New Yorker Blog

A piece I wrote on the daily struggles of my family at the temple in Fukushima appeared on the New Yorker blog. I've been trying not to hound my family, but obviously I am concerned for their well being.

You will also note in the comments that two people criticized my use of the word "biannual" and suggested I substitute this with "semi-annual," which the New Yorker did. Today I received this email from my father-in-law in Scotland.

"I checked my Chambers Dictionary, and it gives both meanings for biannual. !!!!!"

Recently the Japanese government expanded the voluntary evacuation zone due to a lack of food and supplies reaching the area around the nuclear reactor. As far as I know, my family is still staying put, as they said they would.

Actually only one person criticized the article's use of biannual. That person was me, and everyone from the OED to my mother has since told me I'm wrong. Please also know that your elegant words about your family have enthralled me into following news of Iwaki as best I can (e.g. using Chrome to translate websites linked to #iwaki on Twitter), and that your updates are greatly valued.
My BF whose family is in Osaki, a fairly new town created in that Japanese habit of merging cities for efficiency and political power, is planning to leave Miyagi.

This to me -- and I him as well -- is stunning news. Japanese are considerably attached to place. He grew up in Osaki (formerly Furakama) and Sendai -- about 30 km away. He lived in the house his father grew up in. And maybe his grandfather as well.

The family registry is there somewhere as I assume the family temple. I relate in that my father's family can trace its history to the 19th century in Iowa and mother's to the 18th century in Michigan.

So to imagine his elderly grandparents and father will leave the family rice farm to head off to some distant prefecture is astounding.

And heartbreaking.

(Also my dream of one day retiring to the family farm in rural Japan like a character in some American in the Land of the Rising Sun indie flick -- I'll move for the romance of the place and then discovery the true meaning of self -- is dashed.)
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