Mameshiba is a bean. A little dog bean thing. Or sometimes, a nut. There are lots of different ones: edamame, peanut, pistachio, azuki bean, jelly bean etc. It’s hard to explain, take a look:

Grumpy rabbit Mameshiba and a Babyshiba

Hm?

You can buy quite a lot of Mameshiba goods, keyrings, plushes, stationery etc. I really rather like the seasonal ones you can get in UFO catchers. At Christmas they had Mameshiba reindeer and in January, Mameshiba rabbits (year of the rabbit). He also appears in one of my favourite magazines,’ ねーねー: Cutest Character Magazine’.

Cute character magazine!

Mameshiba cartoon

Free gift!

And as if all this wasn’t cute enough, he’s also the star of some really rather adorable little short clips where he pops up and recites a little piece of trivia. Here’s one (with English text):

Cute!

Here’s another!

So you see, Mameshiba is awfully cute :)

(I wish magical little beans would pop up and talk to me when I’ve had to much to drink!)

I meant to post something light-hearted today. Or maybe something about White Day. I feel like I should say something about the earthquake first though. I guess I really don’t have anything very worthwhile to say but I’ll write about it anway. First of all, thanks so much to everyone who got in touch to check how I was. Facebook has been awfully useful as a way of letting people know I’m OK and I know all of my friends in Japan have been finding themselves somewhat inundated with friends/family/acquaintances checking in on them. I am and always have been totally fine, I don’t live near the epicentre.
My experience was very small. I was at work when it happened and, like so many others, I started to feel a little dizzy and faint. I looked up from the page I was reading, thinking maybe I’d strained my eyes. Nope, still dizzy. I checked my chair and the desk I was sitting at to see if they were wobbly. Not really. Then I realised everyone in the room looking around in confusion and finally understood that it was an earthquake. I really didn’t know what to do so I just crouched on the floor and held onto the desk. Some people got on the floor, others stood up. The building rocked slowly for about a minute, followed by an aftershock a little while later.
The whole thing was more surreal than outright scary. I’ve never experienced an earthquake before and for some reason I just didn’t think it would get any more violent. I’m lucky it didn’t. I still think it’s weird that while it was happening my thought process was pretty much “Ooh, this is…weird. It probably won’t get any worse, right? Right.” Afterwards, most people got their phones out or switched their radios on. Otherwise it was just back to work. I couldn’t make or recieve calls for about an hour after it happened but I soon started getting a steady stream of texts from Danny and friends in the area. We were all fine. I heard vague murmurings about a tsunami and some hints that maybe this was something very serious but I still left work not really aware of what had just happened.
Of course as soon as I got home and switched on the news it was pretty obvious. I e-mailed my parents straight away, posted on facebook and replied to messages then logged onto twitter and sat hypnotised by the BBC and NHK coverage. Shot after shot of that sludgy wave, washing away bits of wood, then cars, then houses, then boats.
Everything I felt just seemed like such a cliche. You know all that stuff about things never seeming real until they happen somewhere nearby. It still doesn’t feel entirely real though. I’ve never been to northern Honshu, it seemed so far away. The footage from Tokyo was scary because I’ve spent so much time there, I could imagine being there while this was happening. But despite the familiarity of Tokyo and the frighetening images coming from the city, the real horror was up in Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate. The raging fires, the water, the submerged cities and the knowledge that in amongst all the cars and wreckage there had to be people. That wave seemed impossible to outrun or even to outdrive.
The situation only proceeded to get more and more grim. The death count looks set to rise and rise. Nuclear power plants are having difficulties. The amount of repair work that’s going to be needed is hard to comprehend. If you believe in anything then do send your prayers to those hit hardest and if you can, donate some money towards the relief effort:
The Japanese Red Cross:
http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/index.html
If you’re in Japan, you can donate directly through Family Mart. Instructions are here:
http://www.jetprogramme.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=4999