Prayers for Japan
A lovely post from Your Beautiful Mind worth reblogging:
Thousands of wooden prayer tablets, ema, hang outside Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine. Japanese are not normally religious, but during times of crisis they often revert back to traditional beliefs. Prayers for disaster victims and the nuclear crisis are written and hung around a divine tree. In a special ceremony, Shinto priests burn the prayers as an offering.
Thousands of prayer tablets hung in one day testify that the crisis in Japan continues to grow and people are trying to find ways to cope. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site has been rated a five on a seven-point international scale for atomic incidents, just two levels lower than the Ukraine’s 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog warns that stabilizing the plant is a race against time. In Japan’s disaster-ravaged northeast, 6,405 people are confirmed dead and about 10,200 are listed missing.
While most Westerners often are preoccupied with causes of disaster — the questions of why God would allow an earthquake, for example — Eastern traditions like Buddhism and Shinto focus on behavior in reaction to tragedy. It is very important in Japanese life to react in a positive way, to be persistent and to clean up in the face of adversity.
(image and text source here)
shared by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Overwhelming Video of Tsunami Taking Out Entire Japanese Fishing Town
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The plethora of footage showing the ravaging impact of the earthquake and resulting tsunami on Japanese cities and infrastructure pale in comparison to this hand-held video above. Many of us have seen this BBC video of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, a fishing town situated at the tip of a bay on the Pacific Ocean in northeastern Japan; but, when you watch the embedded video shot from, what I can glean to be, the rooftop of an engineering building, you get a deeper sense of why human casualties are numbering at more than 18,000 so far.
I imagined that tsunamis crush everything in their path with a massive series of waves and wild storms, but what you see here — besides this camera operator’s steadfast, fearless determination to capture it all — is the rushing water engulf Japan’s capital of the shark fin trade in a matter of minutes. While the water rises, the town sinks.
If cars can float like fishing bobbers on top of the flood waters and huge white storage tanks wander restlessly, the amount of debris displaced must be unfathomable. Robert Hood of MSNBC gives you a better sense of this. He created the panoramic shot below to show an on-the-ground view of the devastating aftermath of the video you see above.
(via Laughing Squid)
The Economic Toll of Natural Disasters, but What about Other Manifestations?
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
“The estimated damage from Japan’s combined earthquake and tsunami make it the world’s most expensive natural disaster since 1965. The world’s second most costly natural disaster also took place in Japan, the 1995 Kobe Earthquake, whose losses totaled nearly 2 percent of the country’s GDP, according to this graphic compiled by The Economist.”
These figures matter, but they lack personality. They don’t put a face on the psychological trauma and steel that pervades cultures for subsequent generations. How does one measure the impact and manifestations of these natural disasters on people who live through it and beyond it?
I’m sure there are data crunchers that try to account for ideas like this, and many others that often go unreported. Can somebody help point me to some of these sources?
Google Helps People Find Survivor
by Susan Leem, associate producer
The Telegraph notes an important contribution to relief efforts in the Pacific: the Person Finder, in both English and Japanese. Google is tracking thousands of records to match information on missing people. Imagine the pang of relief to find your loved one on a safe list amid the chaos of downed communication lines.
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
This “Pic of the Day” from The First Post is one of the more ethereal images I’ve seen in some time. Yeah, I know, it’s from late December but my consumption of the RSS feed occurs incrementally.
Kome Loy are lightweight lanterns that act like a hot-air balloons. A small bowl containing oil and a cotton cloth is centrally anchored to the lantern’s edges. When the oil starts burning, the hot air fills the paper envelope and rises into the air. Before launching the lantern, a person prays for the bad luck to be carried away into the sky.