Rosie’s #BookReview of #Memoir ONE MONTH IN TOHOKU: An Englishwoman’s memoir about life after the 2011 Japanese Tsunami by @CarolinePover

One Month in Tohoku: An Englishwoman's Memoir on Life after the Japanese TsunamiOne Month in Tohoku: An Englishwoman’s Memoir on Life after the Japanese Tsunami by Caroline Pover

4 stars

One Month In Tohoku is an Englishwoman’s memoir about life after the 2011 Japanese Tsunami. 

Author Caroline Pover was on a solo holiday in Saipan when the disaster occurred, though she had lived in Japan for several years and thought of it as her adopted home. The pictures and news from Japan were terrible and Caroline felt a deep need to do something for the victims, but she had no suitable rescue skills. Instead, she flew back to England, and began using her network of contacts to raise money and supplies for the survivors. 

This is an inspiring story of one woman’s idea which expanded across the globe. The fundraising campaigns and the generous support which Caroline received were brilliant. She then went on to take the supplies to the heart of the people who needed them. With a determination to raise spirit, Caroline initially filled two lorries with items and later she organised goods to be delivered to a local distribution point. 

Caroline went to the Oshika peninsula, a six and a half hour drive north of Tokyo where people had only the clothes that they were wearing when they escaped the tsunami. Their houses and businesses no longer existed and they were sheltering in cramped emergency conditions.  

This was more than a one-off plan. Caroline returned to the area as often as possible and she listened to what the people needed; she used financial donations for projects to help rebuild the communities. She kept all the sponsors informed of how their money was spent, and this built up a great relationship between the donors and the recipients. One of the main problems with many of the charities today is that people believe that their money gets used up in administration and transport costs, but Caroline made sure all of the money and sponsorship went directly to the people. 

This book is much more than just one month in Tohoku; this is the story of the people and the communities and how they rebuilt their lives, and about the kindness in the world for complete strangers. Caroline has returned to Oshika almost every year. Although so much of it is sad, there is also so much that is good and happy. I think anyone who has ever considered voluntary work would enjoy reading this, especially those frustrated by the red tape which often prevents the right donations getting to the people who really need them. 

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Book description

On March 11, 2011, one of the biggest earthquakes in history occurred off the northeast coast of Japan, triggering a deadly tsunami that destroyed much of the Tohoku coastline.

Driven by a desire to help the people of Tohoku, long-time Tokyo resident Caroline Pover embarked on a mission to collect emergency supplies from her native UK. Caroline delivered these supplies to an isolated part of Japan that even many Japanese have never heard of: the Oshika Peninsula. While there, she saw beyond the horror of the debris and destruction, and fell in love with the beauty of the landscape and the spirit of the people who had called the peninsula home for hundreds of years since their samurai ancestors first settled there. Compelled to do whatever she could to help, she promised to return, once more, just for a month …

“One Month in Tohoku” is the true story of what became the many months Caroline spent visiting Oshika. During extended periods of time over the course of many years, she lived alongside the people of Oshika, and they embraced her as one of their own — she still visits them to this day. This book tells us about a very traditional way of life in a remote community that cares deeply about all who are a part of it. It is the story of how, after a disaster took away everything they had, these seemingly forgotten fishing communities are still rebuilding their lives. It is also the story of how a network of people from all over the globe were inspired to donate millions of yen to support families, schools, and businesses, and to never forget the survivors of the world’s costliest disaster.

To commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the tsunami, Caroline has set out in words a deeply moving tale of the very human impact of a natural disaster. Readers will cry tears of laughter as well as tears of sadness, and be touched by Caroline’s surprising humour and honesty and that of her Oshika friends as they unexpectedly become so beloved to one another. This is the story of a beautiful friendship between a very determined Englishwoman and the incredibly brave and resilient fishermen, women, and children of Tohoku.

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