Monday, July 16, 2018

Recent disaster in, and some relief for, southwestern Japan

Canal scene in Kurashiki

Watery beauty in Okayama's Korakuen

View of the river from a prime seat at Hiroshima's Kanawa
Two Saturdays ago at Sake Bar Ginn, its Japanese owner (and my good friend) asked if I had heard about the floods and landslides besetting much of southwestern Japan.  I replied that I had read a report or two about the situation but it wasn't until days after we had that conversation that I got to realizing how bad things had gotten there.

The first inkling I received that this was a pretty serious calamity was when I checked the website of the Asahi Shuzo sake brewing company and saw a posted notice about a posted notice about the brewery and head office having suffered flood damage; this despite their being located up in the mountains!  Still, it wasn't until I saw a video showing the extent of the damage that was suffered by this major sake brewer, whose facilities had seemed so state of the art when I had the rare privilege of visiting them this past January, that  I got to getting a good sense of how major a disaster had struck.

The death toll having gone past 200 later in the week gave an even clearer picture of how grim the situation has been for the denizens of flood- and landslide-hit areas.  And the photographs of what the nation's worst floods and landslides in 36 years have wrought has made for heartbreaking viewing, especially if one feels a personal connection to that part of Japan -- which I have on account of my having spent time in a number of cities, towns and villages in the affected prefectures of Hiroshima, Okayama, Kyoto, Nara, Yamaguchi, Shiga, Hyogo, Gifu and Fukuoka.

The idea that Hiroshima, which already has gone through so much, could well have suffered further damage gets me wondering whether there really is justice in this world.  And it really would have been such a loss for humanity if beautiful places like the historical quarter of Kurashiki and the Korakuen in Okayama that's considered to be one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan had suffered physical devastation.

So it's quite the relief to get confirmation today that the latter two areas have been undamaged (and I'm going to assume that no news is good news with regards to the more internationally famous sites in the area).  In addition, it's absolutely wonderful to learn about the donations that have been made for disaster relief -- including by a certain charitable Pear Fairy, as relayed by a fellow Funassyi fan who was present when the Pear announced that its appareance fee and sales proceeds of its goods at the recently concluded Nassyi Fes in Tokyo would go to help flood victims!

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