I know how much the Sawataishi family would appreciate all the calls and emails of concern I’ve gotten about them since the earthquake and tsunami hit the north of Japan last week.
So many readers of Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain came to feel close to this wonderful, resourceful family, whose lives were chronicled in the book. Their family home is in Kurikoma, not too far from Sendai, which is where so much of the damage has taken place.
Good news. All members of the extended Sawataishi clan are safe. Atsuko Fukushima, the oldest daughter of Morie and Kitako, evacuated her house in Fukushima (like her last name) — very near the epicenter of the quake — just in time, and was able to travel with her husband Noritsugu and their dog Bobby to a country house owned by their daughter Yukari near Nasu Kogen.
Atsuko’s house in Fukushima was severely damaged — and now, due to the meltdown of the nearby nuclear plant, it is unclear whether she will be able to return.
Some of you may remember that this is the second time Atsuko has been dislocated in recent years. In 2008, when a strong earthquake devastated the Sawaitashi family house in the mountains of Kurikoma, she and Noritsugu had to move in with her sister in Oyama City and, a few months later, set up a new life in Fukushima, where they were living when I last them in March 2009. (Pictured above.)
The condition of the Kurikoma house, which had just been restored from the 2008 quake, remains unknown at this point. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I know you will all join me in wishing Atsuko and Noritsugu, and the country of Japan, much strength and energy and good fortune in the years ahead.
In 2008, I signed up as a volunteer at the new swap shop on the grounds of our town dump on Cape Cod. It is a salvage shack, basically. Everything is free there. This creates an unusual, almost wildly blissful environment — a browser’s utopia. It is also a town hang-out and listening post.
Yes, it is located at the dump. And there are bad smells that sometimes go with that. But mostly, the Orleans Gift House is a spectacular, transformative place to spend a few hours. On and off, I have been working on a book about this – and I started a blog that chronicled of some of the stuff that has come in, and gone, over the years. The blog has been suspended but the Gift House goes on . . .
A few photos from our the Cape Cod sailing trip that I wrote about in this month’s Conde Nast Traveler.
I’m not sure if I should be flattered — or very troubled — that I am the only woman writer in the new Esquire collection or that the subtitle is “What it Means To Be A Man.” Hey, I may not be a porcelain doll but I’m not a man, either! Seriously, though, I’m very happy to be in great company, and to be able to read Tom Junod’s great essay again about his father’s fashion tips. It is one of the best things he’s ever done.