Letter from Hokkaido, Japan: Yes to Resilience!

This letter is from an American living in Hokkaido, Japan. I asked this longtime Peak Moment viewer and supporter what it was like after the catastrophic March earthquake and tsunami. He replied:

Dear Janaia,

We are fine here in Hokkaido. The tsunami didn’t do much harm this far
north. A few stores in the downtown area were inundated by the river
overflowing its banks. Everyone is very worried about the radiation,
however. Although the prevailing winds usually come from the north,
every now and then they blow from the south. My morning walks around a
nearby lake have a strange feel to them when I know I am downwind from
a radioactivity-leaking nuclear reactor.

Life goes on pretty much normally here. There are no shortages of
anything. A few refugees from the devastated areas have been resettled
here. I took notice of where my new university students come from; many do come from the affected prefectures, but they all insist they
suffered no losses.

One of the saddest film clips we have seen on the evening news was of
frightened cows in a barn, looking right into the camera, plaintively
mooing for lack of water or food because their owner had been forcibly
evacuated from the 20 kilometer exclusion zone (soon to be expanded to
30 kilometers) around the stricken nuclear reactors. The government
now says it will take at least another nine months to get the nuclear
reactors under control. In the meantime, 120,000 people have had to
leave their perfectly intact homes, places of work and schools. I
always imagined this scenario would occur after an act of nuclear
terrorism, but not because of stupidity.

On a lighter note, people who laughed at me when I once suggested an
abandoned school with playground be turned into community gardens are
now all saying I was right. It’s too late for the playground, a giant
electronics store was built there. Everyone now seems worried about
where their food is coming from. I guess their motivation is more to
eat radioactivity-free vegetables than community resilience which was
my motivation, but I’ll take any kind of resilience I can get! The
result has been that a neighbor has stepped forward and offered me a
free garden plot. Some of those I can still remember laughing at me
are now all full of advice: “Don’t over-till that soil, you’ll kill
the earthworms! Leave me a corner so I can grow some herbs,” and “Can
I use some of that compost you’ve been making all these months [when I
was laughing at you]?”

Levity aside, I feel very strongly that watching Peak Moment TV and
reading all the inspiring comments made by you and your readers have
given me the peace of mind to cope with this crisis. Peak Moment TV has
been preaching community resilience since forever. I hope this whole
terrible event right in the middle of a “highly developed country”
will finally wake up other people around the globe and make them
realize we can’t sleepwalk through life anymore, we have to prepare
for the worst. Peak Oil and global warming both have the potential to
make this tsunami and its aftermath look like a cakewalk.

Thank you for your concern, but most of all, I thank you and Robyn for
working so hard on every Peak Moment episode. Each one brings hope and
joy into my life!

Hoping you and Robyn are well,



  1. Stuart and all.

    Where my focus is right now is the incredible set of possibilities which are emerging as a result of this disaster. My journey with Japan began 40 years ago as a student at Waseda University. It’s always been a personal journey until last year, when I was asked to bring my work in from The Berkana Institute (www.berkana.org). It is as if last year was preparation for this. All over Japan there is a sense of “having been liberated from a future we did not want,” and, as you say Stuart, what is happening here is reverberating around the world.

    You might be interested in some of my writing form the last three weeks while I’ve been here — http://www.resilientjapan.org and from earlier — http://www.resilientcommunities.org.

    Blessings, Bob

  2. Thank you for this insight on the situation in Japan, Stuart and Janaia. As hard as it is to face daily the nay sayers and mockers of self sufficiency a disaster like this shows that resilience and perseverance are the way to go. Wishing you all the very best Stuart and thank you Janaia and Robyn for Peak Moment – it’s a shining light for this family.

  3. Inspiring feedback Stuart on never giving up and striving to do what’s right for your community, especially in the face of denial and mockery. Thank you for your thoughts!


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