This is a food blog and is fairly useless in the face of what is going on in Japan right now. What it can do, however, is say here is a link to an easy place to donate money (the Japanese Red Cross).
It is also, perhaps, a place to say Japan is a rather incredible place which, as soon as it is sensible, you should visit and spend as much money in as possible (not hard given the Yen’s strength). This is because, just like with New York after 9-11, tourism and the money it brings will only assist the recovery.
I went to the Nagano Prefecture at Christmas for a skiing holiday and hadn’t blogged about it till today for the simple reason that I couldn’t face doing it. The holiday in Japan was just so perfect I didn’t want to be reminded of it by looking at the pictures. However, following the earthquake I finally had look at them and they reminded me just how complex Japan’s relationship is with nature. And this, inevitably, encompasses the tectonic activity that has led to the present destruction.
I originally went to Nagano solely to ski but a knee injury from a massive over estimation at how good I was at skiing off piste meant that I had the chance to visit the snow monkeys in Nagano’s Jigokudani Yaenkoen park.
The snow monkeys are a perfect demonstration of just how Japan interacts with nature. The monkeys used to be wild but have become a tourist attraction due to the way in which they use the hot springs to warm themselves up. There is nothing to stop them leaving the hot springs but they have evolved an interdependent relationship with the park wardens and the tourists who come to visit them.
Japan as a nation has a similarly interdependent relationship with earthquakes and tectonic activity. If you have ever visited Japan you will have been astounded by its cleanliness which was, historically, reliant on the bathhouses built over and nutured by volcanic springs. The fragile and aesthetic nature of the houses and places of worship is also a result of an evolution hindered and directed by constant earthquakes and risks of fire.
And around all of this they rever and direct, where possible, nature. The gardens and parks have been slowly created through an obsessive form of Japanese gardening into a miracle of display. Autumn in Japan gives rise to possible the most vivid experience of seasons you will ever have as trees and plants change colour en masse.
So, give rather than pray for Japan and if you can’t visit quite yet I would suggest having a read of Yukio Mishima’s novels in the meantime as they are brilliant enough to capture the unique obsession of Japanese thought and the daily interaction with a bound but not tamed nature.