2011 Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami

April 21, 2016

Event Recap: Tohoku Springs Back!

by Kayoko Akabori

I’m happy to report that we had a successful fundraising event for Tohoku last month. This was our first collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Center for Japanese Studies, and we’d all agree that it was awesome. Despite the massive rain that poured down on downtown Berkeley on the night of March 12, we had about 100 […]

February 9, 2016

Upcoming Event: Tohoku Springs Back – Commemorating 5 Years of Positive Change in Tohoku, Japan

by Kayoko Akabori

It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly five years since the devastating tsunami disaster in Tohoku. The earthquake struck on March 11, 2011 and news traveled quickly to California. I recall watching footage of towns in northern Japan immersed in water — people being dragged downstream (many who had passed on), while people stood on rooftops of their homes, trying not […]

March 9, 2015

Tsuchi-yu Onsen Town in Fukushima

by Kayoko Akabori

Japan is a country full of people who work hard and play hard. Many put in 60+ hours into the work week, not including the after hours drinking they are forced to join with their colleagues. But I’m happy to report that they rest hard too. Usually there is a ryokan, aka Japanese-style hotel or inn, […]

March 2, 2015

An Afternoon in Fukushima City

by Kayoko Akabori

If you try Googling “Fukushima” you’ll get pages and pages of links with words like, “tragedy” “disaster” and “fear” in the title. This is simply fact. On March 11, 2011, Fukushima prefecture was home to an earthquake, then tsunami so devastating that it caused a massive nuclear meltdown on the coast. Thousands of people were forced […]

March 21, 2013

Upcoming Event: Fukushima Now: Relief Effort to Support Children in Fukushima

by Yoko Kumano

Two years after the Tohoku disaster in 2011, memories have faded and conversations about the incident, and what we can learn from it, are rapidly disappearing from the media. As time widens the gap between March 11, 2011 and the present, I wonder how I can stay connected to the issues that arose from the […]

June 12, 2012

Kinpou Sake from Fukushima

by UM Guest

By Shizuka Wakashita One day I had to run errands near a local wine shop and it suddenly occurred to me that maybe this shop has some jizake (sake produced by smaller breweries, or as with beer, “micro breweries”). If they are passionate about wines they must be for sake as well, at least to […]

March 9, 2012


by Kayoko Akabori

Spring is just around the corner, and plum blossoms are bursting all over Japan, California, and beyond. A year after the devastation of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, Japan still stands, its spirit strong, with people going about its business just like the rest of us. While the struggle is not over — affected areas […]

January 17, 2012

Umamimart @ Pecha Kucha 1/24 (SF)

by Kayoko Akabori

Yoko and I have been invited to give a presentation at the world-renowned Pecha Kucha forum next Tuesday 1/24 in San Francisco. The theme is “chaos”, and we will be speaking about our experiences in Japan last year in regards to food and radiation. In the typical Pecha Kucha style, it will be a rapid-fire […]

December 16, 2011

Radiation + Japan: Drinking Water

by Kayoko Akabori

After spending three weeks in Japan, the subject of radiation in the water remains a mystery to me. People young and old all had differing opinions about it, and tap water vs. bottled water was a hot topic. When I first arrived in Tokyo, I didn’t think twice about drinking the tap water, despite the possible […]

November 22, 2011

Tokyo JUNKtion: Cateriam Cat Cafe

by Yoko Kumano

A cat cafe is not a place that serves cat sandwiches. It is a cafe… with cats. Cat Cafes in Japan were very popular in the early-mid 2000s and still remain peppered throughout Tokyo. Building on the otaku culture of manga, maid and mimikaki (ear cleaning) cafes, cat cafes provide solace for people who love […]