"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A small, normal thing: Bookstore in a tent

After the Fukushima disaster washed 230,000 books out to sea, the owners of the bookstore reopened in a tent in response to local demand. Mainichi Daily News.

"Between May 16 and 21, the couple opened a temporary bookstore using a 2-ton truck... at a parking lot of an auto retailer along a prefectural road, which had escaped major damage. A total of 3,000 people visited the tentative bookstore in six days, resulting in 2.05 million yen in sales.

"In July, the Chidas started to run a tented bookstore every Friday through Sunday. Once again, many people flocked to the bookstore from their shelters.

"Kai Onodera, 11, an elementary school student in Kesennuma, bought two manga titles at the makeshift bookstore on the evening of Sept. 18. The tsunami had claimed the lives of his grandmother and aunt and destroyed his home. It was four days after the magnitude-9.0 quake struck that he was reunited with his parents who were taking shelter at different places. Since his family moved into an apartment far from his school in April, Kai has no friends to hang around with in his neighborhood.

"'When I'm reading manga, I get amused and distracted, if only for a little while,' Kai said with a smile."

People living in refugee shelters are buying books -- I can imagine how important that small return to normalcy is for them, after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdowns. Browsing and buying books must seem so reassuring, especially as the problem is far from over.

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