Tag Archives: Fukushima

Media Coverage of the Fukushima Crisis – A Speech by Eric Johnston at Foodelica, Kyoto

Our good friend Eric Johnston will be speaking on media coverage of the Fukushima crisis at Cafe Foodelica on November 22nd (Saturday).Eric J

Eric will talk about how The Japan Times and foreign media covered the Fukushima crisis,  a bit about how they are covering it now, and how all that differs from Japanese media coverage.

DATE: November 22nd (Sat.)
TIME: 4:00-6:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Foodelica near Shugakuin station. Here is a MAP.
COST: 1,000 yen (includes one drink & a small sweet)
The speech will be in Japanese, but I’ll be using a bilingual PowerPoint for those who prefer English. Q&A will be in both languages.
Space is limited so anyone who plans to attend please RSVP Cafe Foodelica at (075) 703-5208.

Minna no Café: 3.11 Evacuees Plant Roots in Kyoto

Here’s the latest guest post from our friend Jason Bartashius…

Before relocating to Kyoto, Ikuko Wagatsuma worked in the clothing department of a supermarket in Minami-Soma, a city devastated by both the tsunami and nuclear crisis. The tsunami wreaked havoc washing away homes and causing hundreds of deaths. Located near to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, parts of Minami-Soma were inside the initial 20km evacuation zone. Though this was lifted in the spring of 2012, Wagatsuma explains to me with tears in her eyes that radiation is still a concern.

IMG_0031-1In Kyoto she is now working part-time at Minna no Café in Momoyama, Fushimi. The café is owned and managed by Minna no Te, a support group for 3.11 evacuees in Kyoto. Situated in a renovated machiya, a traditional Kyoto town house, the café employs evacuees and local Kyoto residents. It also hosts relaxation workshops, computer courses and health consultations for evacuees. “A representative from The France Foundation, who gave us funding, talked me into opening this place so we could give evacuees sustainable support,” said Minna no Te president, Yuko Nishiyama.

The café is tucked in a quiet street conveniently just a few minutes walk from the Keihan Fushimi-Momoyama station and the Otesuji shopping arcade. Though the area is slightly off the beaten path, a fair number of tourists visit the famed sake breweries as well as Fushimi Castle.

Bustling with a steady stream of customers, lunch-goers seem to appreciate the addition of the café to the neighborhood. Included on the menu are Fukushima specialties such as Ikaninjin, carrot and dried squid marinated with soy sauce and sake, which is a traditional dish in Fukushima. Zunda, another northern delicacy is served for dessert. Zunda is a rice flour dumpling topped with a paste made from grounded edamame and sugar.

An (International) Hub

In the old days land and water travel through Momoyama made the area a connecting point for Nara, Osaka and Kyoto. Similarly Minna no Café is functioning as a hub- connecting the people of Kyoto and beyond with those affected directly by the nuclear crisis.

“Many people come to eat and relax with friends. But also there are a lot of people who come because they want to connect to evacuees or me,” said Nishiyama.


Soon after its grand opening in May, a group of students and professors from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont visited the café. The visit was part of the group’s two-week study abroad trip to Japan. At that time Minna no Café was usually closed on Sundays, but Nishiyama opened its doors so the students could come and learn about the realities of the ongoing nuclear crisis.

Lauren Gillick, a Saint Michael’s graduate who joined the group, was particularly impressed by Nishiyama’s presentation. Holding a Masters degree in TESOL, Gillick hopes to teach in Japan sometime in the near future. “It seems that the most we can do for Yuko-san’s organization is to help spread the word and make this issue more well-known to the rest of the world. As I enter new schools as a teacher for this year, I will make sure to do my best to see how I can make this issue better known to my students as I think awareness is key,”said Gillick.

Customers, undoubtedly, also have chances to learn about Minna no Te and some of the organization’s other projects. Information pamphlets are displayed in the genkan. One can also find T-shirts for sale in the entrance. The shirts are printed with a bus graphic and the words “Fukushima” and “Kyoto.” Sales will help fund the Yume no Natsu project to reunite classmates and families torn apart by the 3.11 catastrophes.

This summer vacation buses will shuttle affected people to and from Kyoto. Fukushima children will visit their classmates who have relocated to Kyoto. From August 3rd to the 8th, the children will spend time with friends at a summerhouse in Otsu City provided by Notre Dame Elementary School.

The buses will quickly gear back up to transport and reunite separated family members during the Obon holiday. Many families have been split up by the nuclear crisis. Mothers and children evacuated while fathers stayed behind to work. Though temporary housing is rent free, daily expenses quickly add up and travel costs to visit relatives are forbidding. Obon is a time when many Japanese return to their hometowns to spend time with family and visit ancestral graves. Minna no Te is working to afford Fukushima families a similar opportunity.

Unarguably, the crisis has disrupted and brought injury to many lives. The future for many evacuees remains uncertain. A contentious debate over the dangers of radiation rages on making it difficult for many to decide whether or not to return home. They are at a crossroads. And so is Japan, for it remains unclear as to what degree the country will continue to rely on nuclear energy.

Minna no Café welcomes, attracts and invites people to join in community action and discussion. Such places are needed to empower and unite people in community.

Minna no Café:
Tues-Sat: 9:00 a.m -9:00 p.m; Sun: 9:00 a.m – 5:00 p.mIMG_0020

A 3 minute walk from Kintetsu Momoyama Goryomae or Keihan Fushimi-Momoyama. From either station walk WESTWARD on Otesuji Street, turn left at SoftBank onto Ryogaemachi Dori, walk straight again and you will see it on the left. Here is a map.

Tel: 075-632-9352
Address: 伏見区両替町4-319 (4-319 Ryogaemachi Fushimiku Kyoto-shi)
Links (Japanese):
Minna no Te: http://www.minnanote.com/
Yume no Natsu on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yumenonatsu
Jason Bartashius moved to Kyoto in 2011. He is a lecturer of Japanese Religions and an English instructor. Jason also manages the volunteer project After School Lessons For Tohoku Children that helps kids affected by the tsunami. As a writer he works to bring attention to the ongoing issues surrounding the March 11th disasters. He has made contributions to Deep Kyoto that focus on Kyoto’s efforts to support Tohoku and evacuees who have relocated to Kyoto. You can read his previous articles here.

Kyoto Marathon Fundraiser for Fukushima Kids

The second anniversary of the 3/11 disaster is coming up, and many people will be considering how best to observe the occasion. On March 10th Russell Trott will run the Kyoto Marathon to raise funds for Fukushima kids. All monies raised will go towards a camp near Kyoto organized by Go! Go! Waku Waku. There the kids will be able to escape the worst affected areas of Fukushima for a little while and play outside without fear of radioactive hotspots. You can see Kyoto Marathon Fundraiserpictures from a past camp here.
Please help with a donation if you can and spread the good word.
Here’s the link to Russell’s Indiegogo campaign. Perks are available for your donations.

The Kyoto YWCA Home Stay Program for Fukushima Children

A new article from our friend Jason Bartashius.

The Kyoto YWCA has offered a home stay program for Fukushima children on four occasions since March 11th each lasting for varying durations ranging from five days to nearly two weeks. To prevent radiation exposure playtime outside for many children has been greatly restricted in Fukushima. To let them to be able to enjoy the outdoors again the children are invited to Kyoto where they can go camping and learn about the historic city and its culture. “It was so fun. I want to come back to Kyoto,” said one child. [ref]Kyoto YWCA Newsletter.  No. 510 (September 1, 2012)[/ref]
The YWCA has provided outreach to Japanese Filipino children by making efforts to invite them to participate in this program. Unable to read Japanese, many Filipino women have not had full access to information about support services and aid in the wake of 3/11. With the help of Hawak Kamay Fukushima, the YWCA invited their children to Kyoto. Another session will be held again next summer. “Next year we’d like to invite children from families who are struggling economically,” said Chie Yoshimura, a part-time staff member.
Below I give a brief summary of some aspects of the current situation in Fukushima to elucidate why the program is important even as the government is re-opening parts of the evacuation zone. I then present the details of the program and summarize the other types of aid the YWCA has given immediately after 3/11 as well as the support they continue to provide to Fukushima families. Continue reading

Lessons from Fukushima – Arnie Gundersen in Kyoto Tomorrow Night!

I posted this on Facebook before, but here’s a last minute reminder that Arnie Gundersen will be speaking at Heartopia in Kyoto tomorrow night (Monday September 3rd). To see the details below more clearly simply click on the flyer below to see the full-sized pdf.

What all involved in nuclear power must learn from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Lecture and Q&A in English, with Japanese translation.

Arnie Gundersen has 40-years of nuclear power engineering experience. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he earned his Bachelor Degree cum laude while also becoming the recipient of a prestigious Atomic Energy Commission Fellowship for his Master Degree in nuclear engineering.
Arnie holds a nuclear safety patent, was a licensed reactor operator, and is a former nuclear industry senior vice president. During his nuclear power industry career, Arnie also managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants in the US. Arnie is the chief engineer for Fairewinds Associates, Inc.

Date & Time: Monday September 3rd: 18:00~20:45 at Heartopia Kyoto
Entry: 500 yen (students: 300 yen)
Children under junior high age free

Directions: Heartopia is just a minute walk from Marutamachi Station on Subway Karasuma Line (which you can take from JR Kyoto Station). From Kyoto station the train will take approximately 7 minutes / is 4 stops. Just go out from Exit #5 of Marutamachi station, and you will be standing just below the building of Heartopia Kyoto. Take the Heartopia Kyoto elevator to the 3rd floor. Here is a map.

Tohoku to Kyoto: Yuko Nishiyama and the Plight of the Fukushima Evacuees

Jason Bartashius writes,

On March 18, 2011 Yuko Nishiyama and her three-year old daughter, Mariko, left Fukushima City, 60 km from the Daiichi plant, to live in Tokyo. In June 2011, Yuko her parents and Mariko relocated to Kyoto. In total around 800 Tohoku evacuees have come to Kyoto and about 600 of them are from Fukushima Prefecture. Fukushima evacuees are choosing to come to Kyoto because it is one of the prefectures that has offered aid to people living outside the evacuation zone.

I sat down with Nishiyama to talk about the struggles and concerns evacuees face as well as the support projects she has been organizing. Nishiyama is an evacuee, a Fukushima mother, a volunteer, and an activist. In February she did a Greenpeace sponsored speaking tour in Switzerland for which she spoke about her experiences to raise awareness. Here in Kyoto she manages two support groups for evacuees, often gives public talks and has been appearing in the local media. Continue reading

Support the TA Project! – Fundraising for the Children of Fukushima!

At the end of last month, Sara Ai Coe contributed a guest article to this site introducing the TA Project. This is a group of young professionals in Osaka attempting to help the children of Fukushima by giving them a chance to play freely in a safe environment. Now they have started their own, very modest fundraising campaign. For a mere $1,500 they plan to invite children from Fukushima for a 4 day camp in Osaka from August 17th to 20th. Why is this important?

Children in Kori-machi Fukushima are only allowed to play outside for 1 hour because of the risk of radiation. And this is only one of the many side effects caused by the Nuclear Plant Melt Down in Fukushima. Well and truly the lives of people in Fukushima has been turned upside down. Not only have children lost their homes, family and friends. Everyday they have to stress about radiation levels in the food they eat, the water they drink and the environment they play in. No child should ever have to go through this!! Let’s do something for these kids!!

Here’s Sara and the boys to tell us more about it:

Click here to learn more about the TA Project’s Indiegogo campaign!

See also: Sara’s previous article on the TA Project