relief efforts

Remember to Remember Japan

I woke up Saturday morning, annoyed at my alarm, thinking "Crap it's early to be getting up - and it's Saturday?!" I was fuzzily aware of being a little warm, pinned as usual by my snuggling cats and wrapped in the arms of my always-warm husband. He said, "I'll give you a ride. Stay in bed a few more minutes. I'll put coffee on."

Then I realized I was going to volunteer at the BakeSale for Japan. I was in my clean, dry bed, surrounded by my loved ones, about to have a hot shower, a luxurious cup of coffee, and probably some pretty tasty handmade baked goods. 

I knew I could say with a fair amount of confidence that my family was well. I knew my friends and people I care for would have safe food to eat that day, a roof over their heads, and a clean bed to go home to that night.

I knew with a fair amount of certainty that I would get the medications I take daily. Being pretty healthy, their absence would not mean risking stroke, diabetic shock, heart attack or any other life-threatening situations. But I had the reassurance of them, anyway.

I knew that after my volunteer shift, I could look forward to the cosy, predictable routine of our weekly errand runs. We would go to our regular stores and find most, if not all, of the items on our grocery list. We could shop for some wine. I could mortify my husband by pestering women in saris about produce I didn't know. What is this for? How would I cook this?

We could go to find new area rugs for our bathroom - there was a sale! We could buy new rugs not because we had none, but simply because the ones we have were past their prime, slightly frayed. We could wash the old ones and donate them to the shelter where rescue kitty #2 came from.

All of our achingly mundane, satisfyingly routine, would pass. Tasks would be ticked off our list, sandwiched between a quick dim sum breakfast and a light dinner at the bar at a favorite Trattoria.

All these activities are immensely gratifying to us. Even errands. We have fun no matter what we're doing. And we are grateful that we have each other. Me every day, him most days. I hope.

All of these things would not be true if I had woken up in Sendai. One or both of us could have perished, or watched helplessly as the other slipped away in the rushing tsunami. Or we could be separated, unsure if the other's name would turn up on the names of the dead recovered. Or one of us could have disappeared, never to show up anywhere.

We might've been lucky enough to have both survived, but lost our families, our house, our beloved cats, our livelihoods.

If we needed medications, we could be in serious danger now with no hope of finding a pharmacy, a doctor.

We could be sleeping in a gymnasium with borrowed, soiled clothes and hundreds of strangers or neighbors in the same situation. Instead of handmade pasta with chicken livers, sage, and vin coto; we could be sharing a riceball. A single riceball for our daily shared ration. If we were lucky enough to still have each other, we would split it. We would both feign lack of hunger and try to give the other just a little more. 

This is the reality we must acknowledge for so many thousands of Japanese. The horror of their loss, their bleak future, the weight of their grief is almost unbearable - even from a distance halfway around the globe. It seems easier to focus on our own issues, like which bathmats to buy, how to cook a puru banana, or traffic. Or, we focus on how the "Crisis in Japan" affects us. Radiation in our milk seems easier to contemplate than the immeasurable suffering and grief of so many people in Japan, the country of my birth. 

But Japan needs us to remember. They need us to keep remembering in the months ahead. If you missed the BakeSale Saturday, you will have many chances to help. Remember to remember.

There are reasons why a relief effort fundraiser like Saturday's BakeSale for Japan matters beyond the money and awareness raised - although these are both very important. Events like this matter because they remind us of good in the world and of the generosity of strangers.

I will never forget the little girl who offered a dollar and said "This is for Japan - and I don't want anything in return!" Then she skipped away, so happy.

Don't focus on your heavy heart. Be grateful for what you have but don't forget Japan. Giving feels good. Help in whatever way, small or grand, you can. Just do something. You will be enriched for it and feel less helpful in the face of the horrific news as it continues to unfold, as surely it will.

And in the months to come. Remember to remember. Japan is counting on us.


The Japanese Disaster Relief Fund is another avenue for donations, big or small. Domo arigato gozaimasu!

New Ways to Aid Japan- Bake sales, Groovy Gear


Dear Readers - many of you have kindly been asking after my family and friends in Japan. I'm happy to report we have finally connected with all our family and friends.

While we are relieved, it is obvious to the world that much of Japan is still in dire need of our help. Donations to relief organizations are important but I know there are many other ways we can help as well. I'm trying to find a way to make in-kind donations of clothing, blankets and such and will post when I find some way that we might do that.

For now, here are some...


The Japan Society is hosting a vigil tonight at the Old South Church. I believe seats are still available, but limited. It's free but you must register to gain attendance.

They are also organizing a Concert for Japan. Saturday April 9th. 100% of proceeds from this event will go to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

Japan Society presents a 12-hour concert benefiting organizations that directly help people affected by the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan. With dozens of music acts and performances throughout the day, confirmed performers for the gala blocks, organized by John Zorn, include Philip Glass amp;amp; Hal WillnerLou ReedLaurie Anderson and ZornRyuichi Sakamoto; and Bill Laswell and gigi band. In addition, special activities will be available for all ages, from making origami cranes and washi lanterns for good wishes to unlimited access to Bye Bye Kitty!!!.

$5, cash at door (Does not include gala blocks, auditorium seating is first come, first served.)

$100 per gala block (includes Entrance Fee and assigned seating)
Limited to Two Tickets per order per gala block
Advance sales begin Tuesday, March 22 at 11:00 AM

Confirmed gala blocks are:

1:00 PM Gala Block
Philip Glass, & Hal Willner
Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson & John Zorn

6:00 PM Gala Block Ryuichi Sakamoto solo
Bill Laswell with gigi band

Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Concert for Japan is generously supported by Mitsubishi International Corporation and Kikkoman Corporation


Okay - all you bakers and crafty types. Here's a creative effort going on - it's a nationwide Bake Sale! I saw a tweet about it and had to find out more. Here is what I learned from Tara Bellucci. Thanks Tara for taking the initiative to mobilize Boston's baking bloggers into action!

From Tara:

About the national Bakesale for Japan:
Samin Nosrat is a SF Bay area cook/teacher/writer (Pop-up General Store, Tartine Afterhours) whose bakesale for Haiti raised $23,000 last year. This year, she's expanding to include bakesales across the country. As of today on the national facebook event, there are currently 20 locations in the US. The charity is Peace Winds, a disaster relief organization.

All events are on APRIL 2 from 10-2 local time.

Specifically about BOS:
I write for Apartment Therapy and I saw this post about Samin and the bakesale on our sister site, The Kitchn. I tweeted about the article, mentioning that I would bake/volunteer if there was a similar thing in Boston. Samin replied and asked if I wanted to organize the Boston event, and so here we are. Ula Cafe has graciously offered to host; they've been looking for a way to help as one of their staff is Japanese.



  • You DO NOT have to be a professional cook/baker to participate!
  • Bake as much as you like! The more stuff we have to sell, the better! We literally cannot have too many baked goods.
  • All items must be delivered with a complete list of ingredients, as well as an item name.
  • Please plan to deliver your goods in containers you will not need returned.
  • Gluten-free/ dairy-free/ vegan items are welcome and should be clearly labeled as such.
  • Japanese specialties such as mochi and other delicacies are more than welcome.
  • We sell everything by suggested donation, so the more delicious/special the items, and the nicer the packaging/presentation, the more money we can get! Please keep this in mind (i.e. no cake mixes and regular old rice krispie treats, please).
  • If you are donating goods from a certified/licensed food business, you are welcome to label the goods with your logo/identity.




  • We will need people to organize, collect, and distribute baked goods, as well as work the sales, day-of and prior. Please email to sign up.
  • We will be folding 1,000 paper cranes at the bakesale locations. If you can fold/teach people to do so, please go to Tumblr page here to sign up.



  • If you would like to donate directly to Peace Winds, please look up BOS Bake sale on
  • If you’d like to donate a non-food item, such as artwork, a gift certificate, etc, please email with specifics.
  • If you can donate origami paper, food/water for volunteers, etc, please email with specifics.




Please “attend” the Bakesale for Japan event on Facebook and invite your friends to do so. It has all the details for each of the events happening nationally. Ask businesses to post our event flier or donate to the cause.

Shelter boxes are an interesting idea. I don't have any personal knowledge of them or how the company works but I do know they were on the ground in Japan within 24 hours. We know there are going to be many folks in need of shelter for some time.

Boston's Chef community is so generous and they're chipping in, again. A Multi- chef meal with many generous donations and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Japan Red Cross will be held at Boston's Oiishi restaurant on Washington Street.



Let’s Help, Answering the Call!

Oishii Boston hosts fundraiser to support disaster relief efforts in Japan

WHAT: Ting Yen, owner of Oishii Boston, will host the “Let’s Help, Answering the Call!” disaster relief fundraiser at his restaurant on April 3rd with all proceeds benefitting the Japan Red Cross Society. Ting Yen has enlisted the help of fellow local chefs that are all rallying for the cause. At the event, Anthony Caturano (Prezza), Dante de Magistris (Restaurant dante & Il Casale), Evan Deluty (Stella), Luis Morales (Radius), Kang San (Oishii Too Sushi Bar) and Jeff Nace (Neptune Oyster) will join Ting Yen to create culinary history in a fun, interactive way for an incredible cause.

WHERE: Oishii Boston – 1166 Washington Street, Boston

WHEN: Sunday, April 3rd at 5:30pm

COST: $100 per person (100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Japan Red Cross Society)

TICKETS: Tickets are available by calling Oishii Boston at: 617.482.8868

We are digging deep and sending me. Will I see you there?

For those who like wearable rather than edible art, or maybe in addition to, I have two cool finds.


Joan's Jewelry is often seen on stars like Cameron Diaz on their red carpet struts. Joan is a jeweler with a heart. The motto "Philanthropy is Beautiful" is born out by the long, long list of charities she has designed signature pieces to support. 100% of the profits from the sale of this beautiful pendant go to the charity of your choice supporting those affected in Japan.


The folks at Cafe Press are also printing these cool T-shirts, in a limited edition. CafePress will donate $10 to the American Red Cross - Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami for every Limited Edition Japan Relief T-shirt sold at through March 31 , 2011.