New Japan photos

Sixty-six-year-old Yoshikatsu Hiratsuka cries in front of his collapsed house with his son still missing, possibly buried in the rubble, at Onagawa town in Miyagi prefecture on March 17. The official number of dead and missing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast is approaching 15,000, police said. (Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images)

This photo is one of the most heartbreaking thing I have ever seen. Actually, all of the photos from this most recent edition of Big Picture are heartbreaking. I highly recommend checking them out here.

Japan Appeal

A resident wipes tears as she finds no remains of her home, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Soma city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. (Wally Santana/Associated Press)

I think that the reason I have become so fixated on the disaster is that it hits (figuratively and literally) close to home. Being raised in California, we too had earthquake drills where we sat under our desks and then evacuated the building. We have all been raised with the knowledge that the “Big One” is going to hit California at any given time and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 has been drilled into our heads. There have been times where I was shaken out of bed, heard glasses clinking in the cupboards, or seen lights swaying in the classroom. But clearly, none of that has prepared me for what has happened in Japan. The news has been inundated with images and stories about the continuing devastation and disaster, both natural and nuclear, in Japan. I have been so absolutely horrified by everything and feel so helpless about the situation. I know that I should have been more deeply affected by Haiti, but somehow this is worse to me. Maybe it’s because I feel like I can connect myself more to what happened in Japan – they are an industrialized, sophisticated country with buildings made to sustain major earthquakes. Maybe it’s because it was a tsunami that caused all the damage and there is no way to prevent tsunami damage other than only building on hills or inland. Maybe it’s the fact that there is a major risk for a nuclear disaster. Or maybe it’s all the cell-phone recorded footage emerging. Or maybe it’s just the fact that these people have no homes, electricity, food, water or toilet paper, they don’t know if friends or family are still alive and adding insult to injury, it has started to snow – and still through all this, they are calm. No rioting, no looting, no nothing. They are coming together and becoming stronger through adversity. Rather than turning against each other, they are turning towards one another and embracing everyone as their own and giving strength to those around them. That demands my respect.

So, in honor of the trials that the Japanese are being put through, I thought I would collect some ways to donate around the web, be it bloggers or shops or directly to aid groups that are working in the area. Every cent/pence counts towards making sure that someone has somewhere to sleep and something to eat. I only hope that the world will be as generous to us when California’s “Big One” comes.

Most of this info come from Apartment Therapy. I figured they wouldn’t mind me sharing information like this.

Donate via iTunes: Apple has setup an American Red Cross donation system for iTunes users; donations of $5-$200 can be via iTunes. Rest assured 100% of donations made will go directly to the Red Cross. Please note, the Red Cross will use any excess funds donated for a specific disaster to “prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.”

Find Missing Friends/Family: Google put their vast information database resources to create a person finder service was created as part of their Crisis Response page, allowing survivors and their friends and family to reach one another. The site is available in both English and Japanese and you can make a direction donation to the Japanese Red Cross Society from the page.

The Twitter blog (first half in Japanese) listed a variety of special earthquake hashtags in Japanese and English to aid in mobile communications at a time when computer and phone access might be limited:

Tweet with special earthquake hashtags in Japanese
When tweeting, consider using the following hashtags to help identify your tweet.
#Jishin: General earthquake information
#J_j_helpme: Requests for rescue or other aid
#Hinan: Evacuation information
#Anpi: Confirmation of safety of individuals, places, etc.
#311care: Medical information for victims

Search using special earthquake hashtags in Japanese
The search queries below have operators that will help filter out noise and provide clearer results. You can use these by clicking on the hashtags on any PC or smartphone.
General earthquake information: #Jishin
Requests for rescue or other aid: #J_j_helpme
Evacuation information: #Hinan
Confirmation of safety of individuals, places, etc.: #Anpi
Medical information for victims: #311care

Hashtags in English

Online retailer has setup a Donate Disaster Relief Products page, where all AliExpress purchases made for disaster relief and emergency items are sent at cost, shipped to Japan free of charge. Emergency items like sleeping bags, tents, gloves, clothing, masks and LED flashlights are available; just be sure to specify “Japan Earthquake Relief” as the shipping address at checkout.

Artist and designers like W+K Studio are creating and selling wares like the Help Japan Poster (above) with the specific goal of raising funds through the sale of their work; 100% of funds are donated to Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief efforts (buyers can also choose how much they’d like to donate). is an online store that sells one-of-a-kind magazines and for today, tomorrow and Friday, they are going to be donating 100% of proceeds to Save the Children for their Japan Emergency Appeal. The selection is limited, but way cool. And same prices no matter where in the world you live! Check it out here.

Chika from She Who Eats, based in Japan is doing a Japanese baking set giveaway on her blog. If you donate, you are entered into a drawing for her set.

Online Donations for Relief Agencies:

Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund: Japan Society has partnered with several Japanese and American non-profits working on the frontlines of disaster relief and recovery. 100% of tax-deductible contributions will go to organization(s) that directly help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan.

The American (or British) Red Cross: Those who want to help can go to Red Cross site and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. American’s can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by this disaster.

Oxfam America and UK: Oxfam is working to identify partners to assist people who are suffering in the Pacific tsunami disaster and whose voices may not otherwise be heard, targeting hard to reach areas affected by the disaster.

UNICEF America and UK: UNICEF’s focus is providing aid and care to the children affected by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. UNICEF has prepositioned staff and emergency supplies throughout the region to assist vulnerable children and families should the need arise, but your aid is essential.

Doctors Without Borders: The Doctors Without Borders has already been dispatched to provide mobile medical aid in Miyagi Prefecture, with hopes of finding and treating survivors. Please note, at this point, the organization is drawing on unrestricted donations given to MSF to fund efforts, and are not accepting donations specifically earmarked for the recovery efforts in Japan.

Save the Children: Save the Children has launched an appeal for $5 million to help children affected by Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, specifically with the goals of providing and setting up child-friendly spaces to provide a protective environment where children can spend time with other children and trained teachers.

Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support: A coalition of three respected animal nonprofits in Japan. There are always animals affected in a disaster as well – pets separated from their owner or whose owners have died. They are often overlooked in the face of major human suffering. While understandable, it is still horribly sad.

The Salvation Army: The Salvation Army in Japan immediately dispersed teams following the disaster to the most severely affected areas where they are distributing basic necessities to survivors. These teams will also assess the damage to discern the next steps in their relief efforts. With 200 officers, 3,000 members and nearly 1,000 employees already in Japan, your donation will likely be put to work immediately. American mobile users can also text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to donate $10.

If you’re unsure whether to donate to an organization, we recommend checking their standing and credentials via charity research organizations, such as GiveWell and Charity Navigator. File any fraud complaints with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Known as IC3, the Center is a partnership of the FBI, National White Collar Crime Center and Bureau of Justice Assistance. Also, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 to report the fraud.

I know that this barely scratches the surface of all the things that can be done to help the situation in Japan but if this can make it easier for even one more person to open their heart (and their wallet) then I feel that I have done my bit. Again, I hope that people will come to our aid when we need it most. My heart hurts for Japan.

Big Picture

I have posted a link to these guys before, but it is just so good. Or not so good depending on the subject matter. The most recent batches are, not surprisingly, of the Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The photos are so heartbreaking. I literally could not help but tear up at the damage and destruction and the massive loss of life. The photos really help to show how apocalyptic it must be in northeastern Japan right now. I have donated to the Red Cross, but there are many more ways here.

It’s disasters like this that really make me sit down and realize that the stuff that I complain and worry about are nothing in comparison. I still have all my family, friends, my home and a job. Not to mention I have no risk of radiation poisoning. My heart goes out to everyone in Japan as well as those who are affected by it.

Sources: Big Picture and Big Picture