Being in Shodoshima with my wife's family and away from the supermarket rushes, fuel shortages and uncertainty was worthwhile. Although we watched anxiously for news on Tsunami victims and the rising death toll + developments at Fukushima, we were thankful to be in a safe place that wasn't at all affected and took some time out to enjoy peaceful moonlit walks in the hills, Shodoshima village life and of course time with family & friends who had come to get away from Tokyo whilst watching the news anxiously & silently praying for all the people that were suffering terribly in the heart of the aftermath. I couldn't help comparing anguish and looking at the past to the alternative of looking positively at the future whilst watching the Japanese dust themselves off and lend a hand to one another to get back up as quickly as possible. This is of course still going on despite not being on the news in other countries as much now.
Looking forward has got to be the way ahead...
My inlaws have an old house they're planning to demolish this summer, so we've asked if we can have all the roof tiles which can be used on buildings we plan to make. I'll probably also ask for all the windows and perhaps some doors which will save more money too (Thanks for these recommendations Arnie!). So perhaps we'll be there again for Golden week. It's beautiful there that time of year.
Having read and watched various sources of news and looked at radioactivity readings from the MEXT website (Sorry, updates are Japanese only - but you can use Google translate) we learnt that Japanese sources although economic with the truth to begin with, had become more accurate than most foreign sources. Foreign news of Fukushima & Tsunami damage became over sensationalised, presumably because it sells. It served as a demonstration of how little faith we can really put into the mainstream media today, I thought...
Having looked at all the developments we decided on Monday 21st it had become safe enough to return as readings in Chiba, Tokyo & Shizuoka weren't dangerous to health, even at maximum recorded levels.
We've since also had other independent confirmations from people we know personally that have their own Geiger counters in the outskirts of the 30km exclusion zone of Fukushima.
I don't believe the authorities would falsify readings - but for our own safety have invested in a Geiger counter which I'm told is on it's way to us from the Ukrane.
We'll continue to learn whatever we can and take precautions, but my gut feeling is we over-reacted. I don't regret doing so, as we wouldn't want to risk our health - but if we were to buy this house, we needed to get back and our business also needed us to be in Shizuoka
We arrived back to Shizuoka from an overnight drive from Shodoshima in the early hours of Tuesday morning of 22nd March.
Today, being a beautiful bright day with crisp air I rode my motorcycle to Sanmu-Shi, to check on the house and make sure there had been no damage from the earthquake. I was pleased to find everything as it should be. A couple of loose things had shifted in the house and one lamp had partially fallen off it's fixing but everything else remained as before. This served as confirmation the house is strong. Even the rickety old out-buildings survived. It felt great to be there and see the garden beginning to blosom. A cherry blossom is nearly in full bloom by the Kabuki gate and there are many bulbs about to flower. The many trees were all whispering loudly in the wind. I called my wife and shared my warm feelings of being there before jumping back on the bike to continue my onward journey.
My wife got a surprise FAX this morning from our Fudo San with an invoice for 3% of the house purchase price. As this hadn't been mentioned at all before or during the provision of the contract we were both a bit alarmed, but after checking with other people who have bought used houses realised this wasn't funny business but actually normal procedure. Shogunai - Bugger!
I had an interesting conversation with Phil at lunchtime, who is an active permaculturalist in Southern Chiba and a close friend of Paul Murray who runs the Rongo backpackers and the peace project in NZ, another permaculturalist.
Phil has a young family and we shared our thoughts, learning and concerns about the still incomplete situation at Fukushima Dai Ichi. As Phil said, uncertainty sucks - but as we concluded we both agreed that a decision from the heart (To complete the purchase) was more powerful than a decision of fear (To cancel). I was already completely set on buying this property anyway, but it was good to get some of Phil's wisdom and encouragement. Later on I spoke with Arnie, our carpenter - and he's ready to get to work...
So the plan is Monday 28th March we'll finish preparing finances and Tuesday 29th we'll complete all payment for the purchase. It's a big move for us, but it feels very right now. What's life for if not fulfilling our greatest dreams. I'm looking forward to the transformation that will slowly take place piece by piece.