I was going to write about how I baked cakes and made desserts using yuzu, after I'd turned a good lot of them into marmalade. It took me days to write the post (I'm a slow writer...) and I had nearly finished it. Then... I couldn't. I was not able to bring myself to publish a post about how I baked this or that. Not after seeing all that was happening, and still is happening, here in Japan.
By now most of you are probably aware, a massive earthquake struck off the coast of northeast Japan in early Friday afternoon. The magnitude 8.9 quake is said to be the largest one ever recorded in Japan, and the fifth largest (I think) in the world in the last century or so - but that was only a part of the story. We have since been (or even before that, too) hit by who knows how many aftershocks, including pretty big ones, in a widespread area mostly in the northern parts of the country.
The big quake was bad enough by itself, but it triggered apocalyptic tsunamis that then crashed over the already damaged areas and caused more damage, engulfing cars, ships, houses, buildings, fields... and towns. And smashed up cars and houses were swept away in the flooding water, catching on fire here and there. I remember watching a live footage of a particularly ferocious tsunami on TV, about an hour after the massive quake; I stood there transfixed as it gushed out over the fields, carrying cars and houses, and easily smashing roads and bridges...
...And it has been about 36 hours since that deadly shake, and I've spent those 36 hours pretty much in front of the TV, glued to the news, barely having any sleep. I am extremely fortunate that I know all of my families are safe and well. I was, and still am in Nagano, where the damage has been minimal (though a northern part of Nagano has had its own big quakes). I managed to get a hold of all of my families within a few hours after the big quake. I have also got in touch with my relatives and friends in Tokyo eventually, all shaken, but safe.
And over those 36 hours, things seem to have gone from bad to worse, as the full extent of damage gradually unfolded. So I feel both fortunate and anguished to be able to stay in a warm room and eat and drink as normal, following the news on TV and staying mostly up-to-date with whatever information that becomes available, with full knowledge that my families are all safe. I feel fortunate for all that I have
So I just had to put off publishing the nearly finished yuzu post, perhaps until next winter now that the yuzu season is nearing to end. Instead, I decided to bring up something that has been in my mind. Actually there are two things; first is something that I have been pondering on and off over the last year, and it's a little giveaway.
How would you like it if you got your hand on some sakura (cherry blossom)-flavored baking ingredients?
Yes, it's (almost) that time again - sakura!!! Remember how I got almost obsessed with playing around with cherry blossom flavors in baking last spring?
I have lost count of the number of e-mails I have received from abroad over the past year, asking me how they could get their hand on sakura-based baking supplies, particularly cherry blossom flavoring. So I have come to wonder what if I just did a giveaway and got done with it (if I can). The truth is, I felt bad I couldn't help them all - I did help a few of them, but obviously couldn't help every single one of people who asked me about this or that sakura thing.
So I started shopping sakura-flavored baking supplies about a week ago or so to create my "sakura set". Then the earthquakes hit, and as I was watching TV yesterday, following the news, thinking what I could do to help them, one of the packages I'd ordered for some of the ingredients arrived. Then it hit me; what if I made this little giveaway a fundraiser at the same time?
I was buying all the ingredients at my own expenses to give away, and wasn't going to ask anyone for payment. But if some people found this as an opportunity to help the disaster relief efforts that are needed in the land of cherry blossoms, wouldn't it be okay for me to ask them to make a little contribution?
Maybe this is just my naive idea of emergency relief support, but I've decided to do what I can do. So here is my little fund-raising campaign site I've set up. I would like to invite you to take a look, and make a contribution if you find it worthwhile. And I'll pick a few winners from among those who have made a donation, and send them a little sakura baking ingredients.
I am still in the process of creating the set, and will do another post on full details sometime next week. Now I'm fully aware that you'd find it odd that I invite you to enter to a giveaway before showing you what exactly it is that you are going to enter to win, but I thought people in disaster zones would need your support now rather than next week. If you're curious, you can take a glimpse of some of the things that go into the set here.
So forgive me for not doing things in the "right" order, but I hope you'll understand. You can of course wait until I do the full giveaway post next week - or just simply go and make a contribution, no sakura involved. It's up to you. But if you are unsure, wait until I post the full details.
* 3/17 UPDATE: full details are now available here.
Lastly, I wanted to thank those of you who sent us your thoughts, sympathy, prayers, and love - it meant a whole lot to us. We are safe, but there are so many others who aren't, and they need our support. Any support will be appreciated. Thank you! -cx
* Fundraising + giveaway - Japan Disaster Relief with Sakura
Great idea. I wish I could give more right now. You just feel so helpless, don't you?
I have passed your post to my friends in Facebook and Twitter, hope to get some attention.
We are with you in this moment.
Many hearts, thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time. I will pass this along.
Me and my family have been glued to the telivision watching horror unleashing in Japan. have been following your blog and tweets for a few months now. Our prayers and good wishes are with you and your family.
We are with you.
I'm glad to hear you're okay, despite the ongoing quaking my friends in Nagano have been reporting.
I'm glad you're offering us a chance to help. Thank you.
I am glad to hear that you and your friends and family are safe. Will be passing this post along to my (small) network. Every bit helps. I, too, have been watching this unfold in the US. Japan is my favorite place in the world, and the images we're getting are heartbreaking. We all stand with you in this moment.
What a good fundraising idea. I'm glad to hear you are safe. Here in New Zealand, our hearts are bleeding for events in Japan.
I'm glad to hear you're okay Chika. Hawaii feels for Japan and wishes our best to our friends across the Pacific.
Chika-san, I am glad that you and your family are safe and sound. I got in touch with my relatives in Japan (Wakayama and Osaka) and they are fine too. But my friends in Tokyo are totally shaken.
I have been watching the Japanese news from Singapore, and it is really traumatizing. I think what you are doing is great, and I'd try my best to spread the word too!
Here in earthquake-prone Taiwan, our hearts bleed for what has happened in Japan. I have posted your post on FB, thank you for doing this. Stay safe and strong through this difficult time.
What a great idea! I will definitely spread the word.
I'm spreading your initiative on my blog.
I'm from Rome and really shocked by Japan tsunami.
thoughts and wishes to everyone in japan.
So glad that you and your family are okay. Sending prayers and best wishes from Southern California. I think your cherry blossom fundraiser is a very sweet and thoughtful way to offer assistance.
Glad to hear you are safe - splendid idea on Cherry Blossom fund raising - spreading word + prayers from Singapore - take good care of yourself :-)
I cannot imagine what life must be like in Japan at the moment, and I get sad when I watch the news. My friends there are okay, thank goodness, but I feel so unhappy when I think of all the people who are not!
My heart hurts for Japan right now - being so far away with so little to do to help. I have twittered and facebooked this post and will transfer some funds into my paypal to enter your draw. What a wonderful give-away it is and such a sweet reminder of the wonderful scents of your beautiful country~
Much love and sending you a virtual hug,
So happy that you and your loved ones are okay. All our thoughts are with you in Japan. It hurts so much to hear all those news, see all those pictures. I send all my strength to the people of Japan. Try to stay save!
My heart goes out to the people of Japan. Every image, footage and message I have read wrenched my heart.
There really are no words to express the collective sadness for Japan at this time. We too are working on fundraisers in the US food blog community to help however we can and will pass along yours as well. My heart goes out to you.
I would like to link to your post through my blog. I hope that together, we can help some people in Japan get through this....
Sending love, prayers,and lots of hugs, going to spread the word about the fundraising. Soooo glad that you were able to get in touch with your family and all are safe.
This is beyond belief,the whole world is with you JAPAN. Sending lots of wishes for peace, healing and hope. I will spread the word about the fundraising. I am so happy that you were able to track down your family, glad that all of you are safe.
Re: remark by Shintaro Ishihara Gov. Tokyo: "I Think (the disaster) is tembatsu (divine punishment) . . . Japanese politics is tainted with egoism and populism . . . we need tsunami to wipe out egoism . . ." Omoshiroi, eh? What are you thoughts?
That is a wonderful and brilliant idea for fund raising. It is very inspiring that everyone is trying to help.
I have been trying set something up for the past few days to help Japan. Though there's no prize for anyone, the only thing that i want to give to Japan is a thousand paper cranes (senbazuru) for everyone that is affected by the natural tragedy. The fund raised will be donated to Save the children organization.
Pleeaase do drop by here and take a look: http://5enpapercrane.wordpress.com/
that's a great idea. I'm so sorry for what's happening to your country, it's really a wonderful country and I hope your people will get through this sonn.
I was wondering how to help, where to send a donation, knowing it will really get to people who needs it. Yours is a great initiative.
So keep your strength and know we think about you all the time.
I've been a silent follower of your blog for quite some time...but I really felt the urge to leave you even if a short message of encouragment and hope to you and your wonderful country.
Hi Chika, this is my first time here, pity it must be on such a dreadful occasion...My heart goes to all the people in Japan, I wish I could donate more. Thank you for organising this fund raising.
I'm very glad I met you.
We're sending love and prayers. I've spread the word about your fundraiser to friends. I hope it helps!
dear all - thank you, SO much for your thoughts and support... it all meant the world to me. i really do hope we'll get through this. love to you all, -cx
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