Kiko Mizuhara

Yesterday I was sent from the newspaper to report on Uniqlo’s new UV-cut summer collection.They had an event in downtown Tokyo, which I was told would be joined by model (and actress since her debut in Norwegian Wood) Kiko Mizuhara, and actually that’s the main reason why journalists attend those events. I guess companies know it, because they always have a pretty face as a guest speaker. And Kiko Mizuhara is Uniqlo’s collection ‘ambassador’ ,as they call it, meaning she’s the model popularizing their clothes.
I’m never super excited about those events, because they never tell you anything interesting, but yesterday was fun. I didn’t know much about Mizuhara before going to that event and was not particularly interested, but that girl managed to surprise me.
So, the event was about a UV-cut apparel collection and half of the time they talked about the enormous danger we are exposed to because of UV rays. They even had a professor attending all the way from Kobe to talk about the dangers. And then the much expected Mizuhara joined the group and started her talk-session. The MC goes:
“Ms. Mizuhara, as a model you must be extremely concerned about UV rays. Please tell the audience how you protect your skin from those harmful UV rays.”
To which Mizuhara replies with a million dollar smile, “Actually, I never cared about it too much.” The MC then continues “But I’m sure you must be very concerned now.” Mizuhara (again with a huge smile): “I usually leave it all to my stylist, she takes care of my skin.” The MC goes green, white, red, passed through all possible colors until she managed to ask again “But what do you usually do to protect your skin?” Mizuhara: “I’d put some cream on my face, but that’s about it.” Haha. In Japan they have a word for that - baka shojiki, or ‘unnecessarily honest’. I must tell, though, that I sort of became a fan. It feels so nice watching someone being 100% real even when surrounded by so many cameras and attention. I didn’t know that, but apparently she was born in the States between an American father and a Korean mother (born and raised in Japan). Interesting. And her name is actually Audrie Kiko Daniel….Anyways, haven’t seen Norwegian Wood yet, but I feel excited about watching it now. 

SOS from Mayor of Minami Soma City, next to the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, Japan (by p4minamisoma

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Daily anxieties

I’m gradually starting to get stressed out over job hunting and everything about it. When I was a little kid I always imagined myself wearing sexy suits and glasses to work, running around the office making phone calls and chatting with my crew. In other words, I always envisioned myself as a professional lady. Marriage, kids, houses, cars were not even on the top 100 on my wish list. But here I am a few months before I turn 26 and I’m nowhere near that. Still a student trying to secure myself a diploma I have no clue how to use as it seems practically useless… In Japan your work is rarely related to what you study, instead they have the system that allows you to do job hunting starting at least a year before your graduation. But here I am 3 months before my graduation and I still don’t have even the slightest idea what I’ll be doing after that. I started internship two months ago at an English newspaper in Japan and I love the job. I get to do interviews and talk to so many nice people, write articles and what not, but being an internship it’s of course not a real job. So my days are divided between my research, work for my internship, part-time job, school, job hunting and house work. And by the end of the day I am so exhausted that when the next day begins all I want to do is sleep. But there’s so much more waiting to be done that there is actually being done… So I always feel the pressure of what to choose first, as each of the things is urgent. But job hunting - I know I gotta start getting more involved. But the thing is that I just don’t know how to approach the job market. I don’t know who I am. I’ve been educated in Japan under a Japanese and American system, can speak both languages plus my native one, but I’m often rejected over not being ‘native speaker’. So there’s always this wall between me and all companies I try to approach: the issue of being the non-native speaker. And a woman too, for that matter. The worst combination I guess. All positions out there seem to be the opposite of what I am - they need sales, they need business people…and I know I’m none of this. I like to write, read, talk to people but not in a business manner. And some job postings of the sort ‘all you need is a big smile’ just get me totally messed-up. If that was all a person needed how come we have 5% unemployment rate in Japan?! Anyways….I know that there are no miracles so I should get my butt organized and try to ‘sell’ myself to the employment market…. I just wish things were like in the movies…Someone just pops up and offers you this great job that you’ll love, cherish and grow with, even if it doesn’t come with the sexy suit and the glasses…

The Power of Words

I came across this video today. http://vbox7.com/play:66e0a3ef I don’t know who are the actors or the director (some things in the acting especially can definitely be improved), but I think the video sends out an important message that I strongly believe in. Words have the power to change a person’s life, whether they come from a stranger or not. And the way something is said can really make a difference…

Letters to Tohoku

A lot of people have been wondering what’s the best way to help Japan…and there are certainly so many: food donations, money donations, housing…But I believe that words have an enormous impact on all of us. That is why I and my friends started this project: Letters to Tohoku. http://letterstohoku.weebly.com/ We are calling for letters from around the world to be delivered to the people in most devastated areas up in northeastern Japan. Some of the letters will be published in an eBook, all proceeds of which will be going towards reconstructing Japan. Please spread the word and contribute with a letter!!!

Disappointed foreign ‘journalists’

Here we go again…I just got another e-mail, this time from a major German magazine wanting me to issue photos from Japanese news sources of the 24 hour period before the earthquake. Like the last one, this ‘professional’ lady also started her e-mail by telling me how huge and famous their publication is and went on straight to telling me what she needs from me. Seriously…do they train those journalistic animals how to be impolite and cold?! This one also didn’t write even a single line asking how are things in Japan, how are people doing and so on. Plus, if they are that big don’t they have any connections to major news sources here in Japan?! I just don’t get it.

A friend of my mom’s told her how the other day she got a call from a Bulgarian news agency asking her to express ‘the horror she passed through’. And my mom’s friend (who also lives in Tokyo) told her ‘Oh, I’m sitting here chatting with my husband over a glass of beer. Nothing’s going on for us here in Tokyo. Everything’s fine.” Apparently the news lady sounded very disappointed. This whole drama publicity is making me crazy. Weren’t news supposed to be telling the truth?! The truth is that in Tokyo we’re fine. The tragedy is up the northeast areas and we should focus on helping them by not crating unnecessary panic and further frustration.

Cao’s blog

This is an excerpt of Cao’s, a survivor of the Friday earthquake, blog. Her 8 months old daughter, Soula, was taken to the hospital after she developed pneumonia. Cao stays at a shelter in Iwate prefecture and still hasn’t heard from her family in Sendai.

——————————————————

I want to say…

Thank you all so much so much so much so much…..
Soula is not awake yet.
Hang in there….!!
She developed pneumonia.
Her body temperature was only 33 degrees when they brought her in.
So cold….
She was holding to me with her tiny hands shaking so much…
She had lots of mud in her mouth
God, I was so scared
More and more people were washed away
So many people were screaming
So frightening, so dreadful
Everyone calling for help
Soula too, desperate to stay alive, stopped breathing so many times, but still, still, she coughed and vomited it out..
So small, so tiny…she courageously fought for her life.
She’s still receiving treatment, but I know, I know that she’ll be fine. She’ll live.
Please believe in her.
Please pray that there will be another day that I’ll smile together with her
Right, Soula??
You’ll still make me laugh, won’t you? ‘Mamaaa’, ‘Mamaaa’
My baby….
IT’s ok. I’ll always be right beside you.

I saw the reality for the first time after I came to the hospital.
I have no words left.
it’s a miracle that I survived this nightmare.
And still there are so many people under the ruins
Waiting for help
The sound of the helicopter is horrible
It mutes all voices from under the ruins
Please, please….Reduce the helicopters
I waved to one helicopter the other day
Trying to call for help
But it went in a differentt direction
Now that I think about it, it must have been the media.
But this…this….what they did…..do they know the desperation they left behind them?
I’m losing my strength to stay alive…
Reporters…please, please, please, if you have the ability to come to the ruined areas,
please take us away with you…please bring food and diapers with you, please.
There is so much truth around that’s not broadcasted.
Here at the shelter…no - the ‘remains’ - that we sleep on, there’s no TV.
The specialists on TV…They keep on telling us ‘Sleep, rest at least a bit’ …
Are they crazy? How can we sleep? It’s so cold…And then there are the aftershocks…
We know it different here.
The shelters they show on TV are the best ones.
There are shelters where food hasn’t reached yet at all.
We can’t even call them shelters. More like ‘places to barely survive’
There are many people still waiting there. 
Media…and those who survived….please show the real situation down here.

"What do you think of the power outage?"
"How would you evaluate the government’s performance in this crisis?" …

There are so many who still can’t contact their loved ones…so many who still don’t know if their families are alive.
Sudden power outage and traffic confusion…it must have been so hard for so many people.
But please, help us.
Still, still, still, still…..
Without water, without heaters, without electricity..in the darkness…
There are still many…waiting
I’m so scared….
I’m so cold….
It’s snowing outside.
Please help us to stay alive.
I still can’t reach my family in Sendai.
Please, please,please be alive….
Everyone….
Thank you for worrying about us.
Thank you very much.
Everyone spread the word through my blog, right?
Everyone heard my voice, right?
Everyone read about Soula’s smile, right?
Right?! Her smile is so lovely…
Please smile to me once again.
Let’s smile together.

Thank you for all your messages.
I am so grateful,
so happy…so tearful.
I will reply to every one and each of you, I promise.
Just give me a little bit more time.
Everyone in Kanto….thank you for saving electricity
Thank you for helping us.
When they took us to the hospital the lobby was full of people.
I’m still one of the lucky ones….
I’m alive.
Everyone struggles the same
We, the survivors, struggle, but I’m sure that you who watch the news and feel helpless….I know it’s hard for you too.
Power outage….confusion….
But even despite that you still care for us….
Thank you
It gives us power to live and keep on fighting.
But don’t worry….we in the north are strong!!!
Soula, stay alive!!!!!
We will still smile together.
And we will go to meet everyone one day.
And then we should all hug each other.
Everyone, let’s stay together.
———————————————


Original (in Japanese): http://ameblo.jp/023-1101

Donating food and supplies

Photo courtesy of i-am-71.deviantart.com

I came across Second Harvest Japan’s website and it seems that they accept donations of food and other sanitary supplies. I hope the following can still be found in shops here and there, but this is a list of most needed items:

Ear plugs, earphones, eye masks, rice, retort-pouch food, canned food, emergency ration type of food, baby bottles, baby formulas, baby food, calorie-mate (energy bars), portable water tanks, bottled water, portable water filters, paper cups, plastic bottles, portable gas stoves, solid fuels, camping pots, lanterns, blue sheets (plastic sheets), ropes, portable toilets, toilet paper, tissues, wet wipes,paper diapers, menstrual pads, medicines, emergency kit, masks, gargles, soaps, shampoos (the kinds that don’t need water are good), underwear (not used), towels, blankets, sleeping bags, gloves, helmets, flash lights, slippers, batteries, candles, lighters, can openers, bottle openers, folding knives, trash bags, headache medicine, gastrointestinal medicine, pain killers, sanitizers, gasoline,kerosene, paper plates,paper cups,plastic spoons, plastic forks,chopsticks, and all kind of unexpired and unopened food that do NOT require refrigeration.

The following can be sent directly to Second Harvest Japan here:

Second Harvest Japan Disaster Relief Food Drive Mizuta bldg 1F Asakusabashi 4-5-1, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0053 Phone: 03-3838-3827

For more information: http://www.2hj.org/index.php/news/send_us_food_and_supplies/

Media Power and the current situation in Japan

Ever since the earthquake hit Japan last Friday, I have been blessed with many encouraging messages from friends and relatives all over the world. I’m sure they all have their own things to worry about, but I am grateful that they took the time to write a few words expressing their concerns and showing their love. There have been quite a few messages on this blog too - thank you very much. Many people have been asking me about the current situation in Japan from my own perspective, so I’m posting this here for everyone to see.

I live in Tokyo, which is approximately 400 km from the most severely damaged areas in northeast Japan (Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima prefectures), and 250 km from the nuclear plant in Fukushima. The earthquake here was very strong and frightening as well, and so was the confusion following after, but in comparison to the northern areas what we had (and still do) here in Tokyo is very minimal.

As far as I’m concerned there are two major issues that are worth the worrying, and those are massive panic and radiation - in order of concern, but I’ll write the details in a reversed order.

After the series of explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant, including the latest one this Wednesday morning, the situation is becoming extremely alarming. The government has already evacuated people living in 20km distance from the plant, and has asked those in 30 km distance to stay indoors. On Monday, the government announced that the radiation level in areas closest to the nuclear plant are much higher than usual and that this level is indeed harmful for the health. However, on Tuesday, the numbers decreased to half. Levels in Ibaragi, Saitama, Chiba, Tochigi and even Tokyo have increased 5 to 40 times the usual, but experts say there is no physical threat and the numbers are nowhere near being harmful. At least in Tokyo. I’m sure the reality is different for the workers at the Fukushima plant who are directly exposed to the highest level of radiation.

Now everyone is crazy worried about the radiation - to the point that the ongoing tragedy in the hit areas has become almost forgotten, at least in the mass media. I’ve been following both foreign and Japanese media, and I see that there’s quite a difference. Foreign media is making sensation out of this and manages to scare people all around the world. I think that Japan, having suffered so severely from nuclear radiation, wouldn’t hide it if there was a serious threat. An ex professor told me that the amount of additional radiation in Tokyo on Wednesday morning was less than what one is exposed to in a flight from Tokyo to London or New York. Some people are comparing the situation to Chernobyl, but I personally think that’s crazy. I was born just a few months before the explosion in Chernobyl and my grandpa, who worked for the Bulgarian navy, would tell me that secret ‘rumors’ would spread at work about the situation, but even they didn’t know the whole story. He only warned my mom not to give me regular milk, but that was the only thing they were told at the time. But, this all happened in 1986 Soviet Union - their purpose in life was to hide everything from people….The situation is different in Japan at the moment and I think people should realize that. I doubt that Japan will hide if there was a real threat, and plus I doubt that they can hide it - in the era of Wikileaks when everyone’s watching the other’s everything, I doubt that Japan can hide anything at the moment.

What worries me more, however, is the massive panic everywhere in the moment. People are buying up things from stores as if they are preparing for the apocalypse. A foreign guy was standing in front of a shopping mall with his Bible, preaching about how this is a sign that the end of the world is approaching. People are sending me messages all in caps saying I should consider leaving the country. Foreigners are escaping massively, returning to their countries or just traveling until things cool down. There are almost no tickets left to go anywhere even if I wanted to. I’m sharing a few of my foreign friends’ facebook statuses just to grasp the panic level:

Fukushima power plant looks extremely serious, I have a very bad feeling that we are looking at a very major meltdown. It just isn’t being announced yet… Anyone around there, get the hell out and hope you aren’t downwind.”

Our adviser already told me to go southwest or even out of Japan. He himself is flying back to the US tomorrow night. It’s all fine and dandy now, but what if the situation worsens and you’re stuck in a foreign country with no one to turn to for help because you’re all in the same boat? Just some food for thought.

Worry no more, friends. I am flying back home next week.

Radiation level in Tokyo is 22 times higher than usual. >_<

everyone please watch news about nuclear power plant, the warning has gone up

finally got our tickets, leaving for Sydney tonight at 6:20. On a reussi a changer nos billets pour ce soir a 18:20.

I am so scared…not only me, everyone in Japan is scared…

TEPCO is set to shut electricity in rotating order. Water services at some apartments are pumped electronically. You might want to save your “ofuro”(tub) water until your next bath. During the Kobe quake the “ofuro” water was useful in many many ways for months without H20!

is mistaking dizziness due to lack of sleep with earthquakes!

Meltdown.

Leaving in one hr. Those of you who are staying, I wish you all the best, let me know that ur alright and keep me posted.

Waiting for the Shinkansen to go to Kyoto than get out of the country for a few days

Earthquake at 10 + Tsunami + explosion.

Just bought the last loaf of bread in the greater Tokyo area. 

stores running out of food, nuclear power plants exploding, more earthquakes expected…

You know that things are bad when you have this kind conversation with your boyfriend over Sunday night dinner; Peter: Babe I just ordered Potassium Iodide pills on Amazone, hope they can get here. Me: Potassium what darling??? Peter: Potassium Iodide pills, anti-radiation pills for nuclear emergency Seriously…

Will be flying out tonight to get away from any possible radiation. Yes, my parents are freaked. Keep me updated ppl.

With things like that we are doing good to no one. If we don’t stay reasonable, how can we help the real tragedy in the north?? If we panic and just look for something to spice up our lives, things can only go wrong. I’m telling everyone who’s worried: at the moment there are no major problems in any areas outside of those that were mostly hit during the earthquake. (Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima). Let us hope that things will improve sooner than later. I pray that the thousands who have been evacuated, those who lost their homes and everything, will be safe and be helped by all of us. I pray that the thousands who are still missing will be found, even if the number is small. And may those who lost their lives rest in peace. I’ll be updating.

Busy people

I know that in journalism (like in all ‘busy’ professions) time is money, but this sometimes goes too far. I got the following e-mail (rough translation from Bulgarian) on Friday, March 11 just a few hours after the earthquake:

"Hi. We are doing a special report at the BBC on the earthquake. If you have any stories you would like to share, please e-mail me." (followed by a long list of titles and contact information)

And I’m just sitting and wondering - couldn’t she include at least one line asking if everyone is safe and sound?! Does it take that much time? She’s sitting in her comfortable chair in her office, while people are fighting for their lives and struggle to make sense of everything that’s happening, and still, she is only worried to get ‘the news’…. It makes me sick. I usually don’t bother talking to idiots, but this one was a bit too much and I sat down for a few minutes explaining her why I think she has no heart.

Sometimes people forget about their human side once they get too comfortable. But I think that a journalist (and, yes, it applies for all professions) can’t do a good job if he/she is only interested in reporting ‘stories’.

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