About this Blog

Kanagawa Notebook is about life in post-quake (3-11-2011) Japan.  It’s written by a long-time resident of Hadano City, originally from the US , who has raised her children here and lives with her husband’s extended family. That’s me, writing about myself in the third person.

Though I am unable to be completely objective—and you would not want me to, as that would make for a very dull blog– this is not a blog about me, a gaijin wife. I am well settled in this country, do not hate my in-laws (they’ve saved my life many times over), and am not interested in tourism, Japanese food, manga, anime, or even sake. I am a wine drinker.

This blog is my own contribution to the re-thinking of Japan’s future since the 3/11 quake, tsunami, and ensuing nuclear meltdown.  Though I speak fluent Japanese, I am not a citizen and therefore do not vote. The least I can do, then, is to speak out whenever possible for the sake of my children.  And as long as Japan remains a country committed to pursuing a nuclear energy agenda, I have no trouble finding “topics to blog about”.  Hah!  I envy bloggers with such a problem.

To be blunt, this is an anti-nuclear, peace-oriented blog. I did not intend it to be so back in March of 2011, but my thoughts–and my writing–have evolved since then. You will also find plenty of news about volunteer efforts, stories about continued hardship and painful recovery in the areas devastated by the tsunami, and profiles of the heros and villains involved in the post 3-11 drama.

Lastly, this blog is entitled “Kanagawa Notebook”.   I have not experienced life in the northern prefectures of Japan, not have I lived in a big city such as Tokyo or Osaka.  Kanagawa Prefecture is a heavily populated, mountainous area west of Tokyo, known for its green tea farms (now contaminated by cesium), its beautiful lakes surrounding the base of Mt. Fuji, and its historic port city of Yokohama. I know my neighbors well, and am (to some extent) able to look at the events surrounding Japan’s triple disaster through their eyes.  I write to present their point of view as well as my own. Sometimes the two intersect, and at other times they diverge.  Again: you would not want to read a blog consisting only of my words and thoughts.

I belong to the Jane Austen school of thought.  Jane knew that life was a social affair: one must listen carefully, consider thoughtfully, discuss endlessly, form one’s opinions, and finally act on them. So please, read what I have to say, take the time to think, spread the word about what’s happening in Japan, and act if you are so moved.  I will do my best to present food for thought in the form of current events, ongoing debates, personal dilemmas, and opportunities for taking action and participating in the efforts to rebuild the country and preserve the environment for future generations. In other words, for our children and grandchildren.  In the end, then, this is a blog about us and for us, rather than about me. Leave your comments and critiques, please, and keep me humble.

Ruthie Iida



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  1. February 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm eDear Ruthie,
    Thanks for your blog. I’m going to Iitate next week to record material for a BBC radio documentary and reading your posts has really helped me to prepare for the trip. I am keen to explore the issue of ‘mother activism’ in my programme (anti-nuclear, that is). I have heard that there are women from Fukushima who travel to Tokyo regularly to stage protests. I would love to go to one of these demos and meet up with one of the women who has travelled from Fukushima to take part. Can you help? I don’t speak Japanese so someone who speaks English would be ideal but I am working with a presenter and academic who does speak English so if I can find someone suitable I can get help with translation. Thanks again for your writing.
    Thanks again for your writing.

    1. iidaruth Says:

      February 3, 2012 at 12:56 am eGood, good! I would love to accompany you; in fact, I just mailed you to say just that. Thank you so much for reading, and for your interest.

  2. Mom in Two Cultures Says:

    February 27, 2012 at 4:30 am eHi Ruthie,

    If you know of other 3-11 related English blogs, please pass them on! I want to tell folks about them on my blog.

    1. iidaruth Says:

      February 27, 2012 at 6:45 am eThank you so much for reading, and your interest. I love your blog! Please check my blogroll… You’ll find some excellent sites…

  3. Barbara Bayer Says:

    March 4, 2012 at 10:16 am eDear Ruthie,
    I saw your support of Jamie El-Banna. I just wrote him up for the JT. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it.


    All the best,

    1. iidaruth Says:

      March 4, 2012 at 10:37 am eThank you, Barbara! I get the Japan Times delivered, and saw your article straightaway. Loved it!!

  4. Barbara Bayer Says:

    March 4, 2012 at 10:40 am eGreat, Ruth. Glad you like the article. Isn’t Jamie fantastic? I was trying to find the link to send to someone and saw the mention on your blog so came in and took a look. First time for me to see your blog. I’ll give it a read.
    Thanks again.

  5. ian chun Says:

    March 12, 2012 at 3:01 am eDear Ruthie,

    I am contacting bloggers to tell them about the various activities of my startup in Tokyo, Matcha Latte Media. We are helping small businesses in Japan expand overseas by managing and marketing their English language online stores.

    We also have a social project associated with our activity:http://shoptohoku.com – in which we are introducing a much wider spectrum of japanese businesses in the region that was hit by the earthquake and tsunami. This is a long-term effort to aid with the economic recovery of the region. And we hope for your support in promoting it!

    The press release is here: http://shoptohoku.com/271/announcing-shoptohoku-com/

    If interested in receiving press releases about Matcha Latte Media’s partners such as http://www.obubutea.com and http://inakakitchen.com, please send me an email at press@mlatte.com. You’ll receive info about the various partners, their products, and promotions (often samples for bloggers). You are free of course to introduce anything or nothing to your readers.

    And if interested in making a little money on the side by writing or posting videos, we have a program for bloggers, especially those in Japan, to contribute articles to our partner websites:http://www.mlatte.com/en/mlatte-ambassadors — interesting Japanese culture related to tea, food, gift items, etc. are very welcome.

    Cheers and thanks for your time!
    Ian Chun
    CEO, Matcha Latte Media

  6. March 25, 2012 at 1:48 am ehi ruthie

    i just found your blog whilst searching for information on soil radiation in yokohama. i was born and raised in japan but spent 35 years in california. i returned to yokohama, my hometown, three years ago. i am not japanese but can speak japanese (not too good with the reading and writing). anyway, i have a vegetable garden at my home in nakaku and was curious to find out about levels of contamination if any in my neighborhood. please let me know if you know of any good sources for such info.

    towards a nuclear free world

  7. nickthabit Says:

    August 9, 2012 at 4:30 am eRuthie,

    Great blog. I am just getting into it now, but it’s clearly the kind of thing a reader can get engaged in. I’m blogging about Fukushima and it seems that reading a lot of facts and figures isn’t moving anyone very much; I want to move them to action, so I’m appealing to the emotions more than the hard news side of things.

    I hope you’r having a good readership and some effect in the larger world. I will share word of your blog and check some others on the blogroll. Thanks, and keep it up.

    Nick Thabit



5 thoughts on “About this Blog

  1. Dear Ruthie, I have enjoyed reading your blog this past year. I am glad that you found me on the web and took the time to say hello. I have a question. Which blog of yours is the one in which you shared video of a High School Choir competition? I am flying out to see my Mom for Christmas and she would be thrilled to hear the Choirs. Japan takes the time to educate the whole child and not just the facts and figures. It is amazing to me when I have worked with children’s choirs and the children finally catch on to the idea of singing on a pitch. They are so proud of themselves. Thank you for your input in the crazy world we live in. By now I guess you have heard of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School this past week. There is so much pain. It is long past time for the United States to grow up and shoulder the responsibility for the things we vote for. Merry Christmas, Ellen H.


    My Email r.ellenh@att.net

    By the way my name is Ruth Ellen and my Mom’s name is Ruth. She asks how you are doing once in a while!

    • Ruth Ellen? No way! I am Ruth, and my sweet daughter is Ellen. Well, you must know that from reading my blog. I thank you so much; I also want to say that I’ve thought of you often, since you were one of the first people to comment on my posts and contact me after the quake. Here is the blog post you mentioned– it’s one of my favorites. Your mother will love the choral piece. https://notesfromhadano.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/what-the-children-have-to-say/ Thank you so much for your kind words, and Merry Christmas to you as well. I wish you peace in the New Year.

  2. Dear Ruthie,
    thank you for v ery kind comments and observations. If you or your family ever wish to visit our Afan Woods, please contact me (info2afan.or.jp) and as long as I am around – I travel a lot doing ‘stuff’ – I would be honoured to show you around and perhaps share a little wine? We are now up to 52 endangered species, and our Tohoku project is of course on-going and will continue to be so even after this old bear falls out of the tree. I am now 74 years old, and have been writing for publications since the age of 19, and in my opinion you are a very fine writer indeed and I shall from now on follow your blog with great interest.
    Old Nic
    (C.W.Nicol, Chairman, the C.W.Nicol Afan Woodland Trust, Nagano.)

    • Thank you, Old Bear! What an unexpected pleasure to hear from you. My daughter and I would love to come visit your forest. She may pass on the wine, but I’d love to share a glass. Your kind words just brightened my evening considerably!

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