March 22nd, 2011

Ganbaré!

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がんばれ日本。がんばれ東北。

(Don’t give up Japan, go for it East-North)

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First of all, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to those of you who have donated so far. Currently, as at 22nd of March, we have raised $3,160!!!!!! For the UK readers amongst you, that’s £1,943. I thank you for being so generous. I also would like to thank those of you who have blogged, tweeted, facebooked, or sent mass emails to your friends about the relief. When I set about organizing this, I didn’t expect half as much as it has achieved. And it’s all down to the generosity you have shown.

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That said, the call for funds is far from over.

Currently, even after ten days since the earthquake, people in the worst affected area are still without heat, electricity, running water, regular meals or for some, no word from their loved ones. The official death toll is currently 8,277, with 12,272 still missing. Nearly 500,000 people are homeless. Japan is still very much in it’s urgent state. They are still battling to gain control over the dangerous situation at the Fukushima nuclear reactor. Worries are abound especially for harmful levels of radiation. I well-up when I see children tested for radio-activity by those masked & suited workers, it really feels unreal. When I hear that some have resorted to drinking swimming pool water & pond water…, I can’t believe it is happening in Japan.

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Japan is facing a herculean task to recover & rebuild. But I know that the Japanese people have the remarkable capacity to face natural calamity stoically. In Japan’s time of great need, please let’s continue to do our best to help!

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I now have a donation box at my stall. It was my first time to do it last week, & it has raised $51.68. The generosity that Broadway Market goers have shown is amazing ~ thank you!

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - coco and me - Japan Earthquake and tsunami relief badge in red with jpanese text

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This weekend, my friend H successfully persuaded a badge maker to make 1000 of these badges for free. The text on these tiny badges (it’s a size of a £1 coin) says “Ganbaré Nippon. Ganbaré Touhoku.”. It means something like “Don’t give up Japan, go for it East-North”. I love the simple design of just a red circle. Pin this dinky thing to a plain coloured top & it looks very stylish. I’ll be selling 50 of these for £1 each at the market stall next week, & if they sell well I might order more from her.

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The Japanese word “ganbaré” is one of my all-time favorite words. It’s a difficult one to translate in to English though ~ there doesn’t seem to be a direct translation. It could mean any of these below, it just varies on the context the word is used:

try hard

hang in there / hang tough

good luck

be stronger

stick with it

do your best

don’t give up

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As you can see, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but it does have a core theme – to wish someone well & to send strength their way. Apparently, the Chinese translation to ganbaré is ‘Jiayou’, written in these symbols: 加油. First symbol means ‘add’, the second means ‘fuel’. (wiki) I like that they put those two symbols together like that. It captures the spirit of the message well.

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Like I say, ganbaré as a word is special for me.

When I was about 10, I had to do a swimming test at school. It was to swim two lengths without any aid. I was one of the last ones that could do it & the pressure was on. I was so determined to do it that I came up with a repetitive song in my head “Ganbaré, ganbaré, Ta! ma! mi!”. Again & again, non-stop I repeated those words until the very end. And with that, I managed to complete. ~ Ever since then, whenever I face challenges, I magic that phrase in my head. It’s become my very own special phrase to help me zone in.

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Finally, I’d like to share with you another phrase that is close to my heart. It is 一期一会 (Ichigo ichie). Literal translation is “One encounter, one chance”. It means that one must approach every encounter like as if you will never get that chance again, so excel & do the very best. It also means to treasure the moment you have.

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I just want to thank you dearest readers for being so kind to donate for Japan. I think it is so amazing that you have answered to my call for help & donated on that page… Am I lucky to have you guys visiting this little blog? Yes I am.

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tamami xxx

March 12th, 2011

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Relief

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Donate & I pledge to give £1 for every time there is a donation!

(up to the total of £150)

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I’m sure you are all aware of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that occurred in Japan yesterday. It’s heartbreaking to see the extensive devastation it has caused  - & I feel very tearful to think of all the people there. The people that died, the injured, the missing & the sorrow of the families & friends of those people. There are plenty who have lost their houses too. It’s going to be a long, trying process to heal, & it truly is a horrific time for everyone in Japan.

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I feel strongly that it’s not enough to JUST feel sorry for Japan. Even if we live so far away in a different country, there must be something we can do to help… But what? I wish I was there to help with the relief, rescue as many people with my own hands, dig out the injured underneath the rubble. But turning up on the doorstep is not a good idea – When I thought of what I could do, yes, I can donate, but what else? And then I had an idea. I can use my web-presence, however small it is, to persuade you to donate too, & generate as much buzz as I can to get people to be generous in Japan’s time of need.

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So I have decided to set up a personal appeal. Here’s what I ask of you. Please follow this link to FIRST GIVING website. I have created a special donation page to help the Save The Children charity. The money we generate will fund them help Japan specifically.

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“Save the Children is mobilizing its global resources to respond to the needs of children and families affected by the earthquake and its aftermath, and an international emergency team has been dispatched to assist staff in Japan.  The humanitarian agency has been in Japan for 25 years, is in many of the other Pacific nations that could soon be hit by tsunamis, and was a major responder to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 225,000 people.”

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Please donate generously.

Please help me generate as much funds as possible.

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To start it off, I have already put funds in to the account. And as an incentive for you to donate, I pledge to give £1 for every donation you give, up to the total figure of £150.

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So go on, I’ll dare you. You donate & I’ll pay!

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Please tell all your friends about this pledge so that I’ll cough up more! Also, if you have a blog, please blog about it. If you twitter, please twitter. I want you to reach to as many people as possible to donate. Help me do this.

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Please remember, Japan has an excellent track record for been superbly charitable in other’s time of need. Now it is your turn to return the favor. I know we’re in recession and all, but look at it this way, ~ if this mega scale of a disaster struck where you live, wouldn’t you love it if everyone dipped in to their purse to donate for you?

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So please give generously in this time of great need. Please. It’ll mean a lot to me to see you do it. Let’s you & me make a difference.

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Thank you in advance,

Tamami Haga

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March 7th, 2011

Spring! The day the sky turned blue.

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Midday at the market, for a moment, the clouds subsided & the sky turned beautiful blue. It prompted me to ask my fellow stall holder to look after my stuff & go for a quick stroll. We often take turns looking after each other’s stalls like that, for whenever nature calls or when we need to grab ourselves a lunch.

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When on my stroll, I often like to walk to the end of the market to see my friends at their baguette stall. On way, I noticed the cherry tree next to ‘L’eau à la bouche’ café was in full bloom. Wow, first sign of Spring & what a magnificent one! Mr.S from the café says that it bloomed almost all of a sudden. I took the murky picture above with my grubby iPhone. The weak but direct ray from the sun felt penetrating & tingling warm in the still crisp cold air. Perhaps the cherry tree decided to make the most of the sun’s rays & use the opportunity to blossom, just like how it prompted my little stroll.

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I felt peaceful. Or maybe I was just simply spaced out through lack of sleep. I went to bed after 4am on the previous night & woke up at 7:30 in the morning. I told a visiting friend about this, & she said “Tamami, but 4am is not ‘night’, it’s already ‘morning’! What-on-earth..?!”. Lol, yes, perhaps, but I didn’t feel the lateness atall! I was buzzing, working on my book! And it is just so exciting, ideas just keep pouring out & I know exactly what to write! Like the crisp blue sky, everything is clear for me on what to do. If only time allowed, I would work on it day on end!

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And besides, I didn’t sleep much prior to this book writing anyways! It’s just the way I am. On average I probably slept 5 to 6 hours or so a night, often going to sleep around 3am. There’s something I love about the undisturbed hush of the night, it’s as if suspended in time. I often read or potter around in the kitchen & ofcourse also do my blogging. And now that my book project has fully commenced, it’s the night-times that I must really work in, what with day-times being fully booked with family & market work, it’s the only reserved slot of time I have.

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The stall’s doing great by the way. Sales are on the up for definite compared to last Winter. (Phew!) And it’s still cold enough to have a decent sale on the truffles & hot chocolates. The market itself feels busier than ever before & this week was a perfect example of so.

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The last two weeks I deliberately produced less cakes so that I can finish slightly earlier on Friday night & also go home earlier than usual at 4pm on the Saturday to conserve energy to work on my book. Unfortunately it also meant no lemon drizzle cake the first week. I disappointed a few customers though so I just about squeezed time to make two for this week. But the situation is that a cake has to leave my line-up, & it’s either gotta be the lemon drizzle or the baked cheesecake (aghast!) Which one should go? Sale-wise, the cheesecake is perhaps less popular, but the look of it with the bird stenciling does stop people on track… Sigh…, which one should it be? It’s so difficult!

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(above cheesecake picture borrowed from This is naive.)