For Japan

This post isn’t really a funny one and I apologize for that but it needs to be said so just bear with me a minute, okay?

I love Japan.  I’m not much of a traveler so it’s the only far-off place I’ve ever been and it holds a special place in my heart.  If you’ve read here long enough you know about the time that a young girl named Chicako volunteered to show me around Japan for free.  She didn’t know me and had no idea I had a blog but the people of Japan have such a strong feeling of civic duty and politeness that they regularly sign up to escort strangers around their city so they can practice their English.  She took me to her favorite local dives and sat patiently while sweet make-up artists made me into a prostitute (long story).  I met so many amazing people in my time in Japan and was almost embarrassed by how generous and selfless they were to a total stranger.  That’s why the earthquake and tsunami that struck there this week really hit home for me…because so many people I love are struggling there now.  And chance are, if you read this blog regularly, they’re people you love too.

You can’t always tell, but a lot of our regular commenters are in Japan.  They read.  They laugh.  They interact with you and me.  I usually have several hundred Japanese readers stop by on average.  In the past two days there’ve been only 40.  I hope to God that they’re all alive and well and are busy helping others and I wish I was there to help.  But I can’t be.  The only thing I can do is to donate to the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders and to encourage you to do the same.

They aren’t strangers.  They’re us.

PS. One of the easiest ways to donate is to text the word REDCROSS to 90999, and your $10 donation will just show up on your phone bill.  It’s crazy-easy and after you do it you’ll feel technologically savvy and philanthropic.

PPS.  We go back to the funny, fluffy stuff tomorrow.  Promise.

PPPS.  I’m including an old video of me eating Japanese boobie pudding as a small “thank you” for donating.  It’s really long because it was before I knew how to edit properly.  You totally have my permission to skip it because I realize my Minnie-Mouse voice clashes with my online persona.  Also, yes, my books are organized by color because that’s what normal people do.  Stop judging me.

95 thoughts on “For Japan

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Beautiful post. I agree. I spent some time in Japan myself and it is so hard to describe the personality of the Japanese people. They are the most amazing people you could ever meet. I loved my time there and it truly makes me ache to think of any of them in pain. It is hard to think there is so little we can do to help but it makes the small things like donating all the more important.

  2. I’m horrified. I just heard CNN reporting that 9,500 are missing from a town that neighbored the one where I used to live (years and years ago). A beautiful seaside fishing village. Just gone.

  3. Paypal has a direct link to donate to the Red Cross, too. No processing charges to be taken; they’re covering those.

  4. I LOVE JAPAN! And I’m so sad to hear about the tragedy and devastation that’s occurring there. You can text 90999 with message “Redcross” to donate $10. I already did, and now everyone else should too!

  5. I have been behaving like an idiot saying OMG OMG OMG repeatedly when faced with all the videos and photos. I was saddened to read on Twitter and Facebook some stupid not at all funny things about Japan at this moment. And we do need more posts of yours today to counterbalance that ugliness.

    p.s. Did you get in touch with Chicako? Is she ok?

    p.p.s. Please do not ever apologize for not being funny. Knowing that you have a big heart behind all the irreverence, to me at least, is what makes me love you.

  6. When something like this happens, all I think about is what if it was us? Would the rest of the world rally around Americans in their time of need? That’s usually enough to kick my ass into gear and open my already kinda empty wallet.

    Thank you for writing this.

  7. Done and done. Super easy and the very least we can do for these wonderful people who have given us so much (e.g. Godzilla, sushi, walkmans and mitsubishi). I’m tweeting this info (about donating, not about godzilla etc.)

  8. Thank you for blogging about the ways in which we can support the people in Japan. As you say, it doesn’t take much! I’ve never been to Japan, but know people there – and frankly, even if I didn’t, they need all the support they can get right now.
    Awesome video too! You’re just as funny in your vids as you are in your writing! Lololololol!

    CC x

  9. I love the video. But you’re right, your voice is inconsistent with your online persona.

  10. These events are heartbreaking. I have, and will continue to donate, my money and my prayers to the people of Japan. Thank you for your beautiful post.

  11. Yes. (Stangers in Japan were amazing to me, too – they’re incredible.) And for Canadians out there: Texting the word “REDCROSS” to 30333 will generate a $5 donation, which your wireless provider will add to your monthly bill.

  12. What an amazing post. Thank you for the way you put things into words that only you can. They really hit us where it counts, in our hearts. <3

  13. Well said. Will do.
    ps. I can’t see the video either. So now there will be a gaping hole in my life where the video of boobie pudding consumption should be.

  14. Thank you for this touching post. I lived in Japan for 3 years and it is a beautiful country full of amazing people. My thoughts and prayers are with them. Also some of my money. I hope everyone who can donate will do so.

  15. For some reason the video keeps deleting itself so instead I just put a link to it. My computer hates me.

    I never had Chicako’s email address so I have no way of knowing if she’s okay. I hope she is.

  16. Thanks Jenny for posting this! I cannot even begin to imagine… I saw an interview last night with Nate Berkus (who survived the tsunami of 6 years ago) and listened to him describe the terror and confusion but also the feeling he had when he saw the Red Cross workers when they arrived…knowing that things were going to start getting better. For us, sitting safely at home on our couches, donating is the very LEAST we can do…

  17. one of the great things about having a hugely popular blog is that it is a great forum to use for the grater good. Since I’ve been reading you, there have been numerous times that you have asked for people to help others. They have all been worthy and justified and for that, I applaud you.

    People, help! Donate! That is all!

  18. I’ve never had the good luck to go to Japan. The many fantastic stories I’ve heard from people who have (and things I have read) have been playing on a loop in my mind since the earthquake. I thought of your volunteer tour guide.

  19. Thank you for this. I worked for a global company until this year and had many coworkers in the city affected; I’ve been trying to find out news about them. I hope they’re okay. I keep worrying.

  20. Ever since I watched you get eaten off of in Japan, I’ve wanted to go there, or if that’s not likely to happen, to become Japanese. Maybe helping the Red Cross will get me closer to both.

  21. you’re a good egg. my late father traveled to Japan 7-8 times a year when he was working and have a few friends (that are all ok) living there now. glad to hear the relief effort is moving quickly and so many have opened up means to donate online like this.

  22. I donate to the Red Cross because Jesus is watching and knows when you are the kind of asshat who doesn’t donate to the Red Cross. Also, he tells Santa Clause about it so you’ll have shitty Christmas gifts for the rest of your life. These are very important reasons to donate. It’s not ALL about the fact that people need the Red Cross desperately, you know.

  23. I have not been to Japan, but admire the Japanese people. It is amazing to see how civilized they are, even in these extreme times. In most countries raids and caos would be going on right now, but I was just watching the news and the people stand in line and wait patiently for their water and food availabe. Just amazing.

    I totally agree wit subWOW, you should not appologies for not being funny today!! There is a time for every thing. I enjoyed today’s post as much as your other ones!

  24. Hi Jenny 🙂 I’m always a lurker here but I wanted to say that I love you for this. I followed mrtl’s advice and used the Paypal option to donate and it was easy peasy. Should make that a P.P.P.P.S ! Loved your video too. I give you props for trying the food that comes in that crazy packaging. I hope you don’t get sick. But I don’t think you will because of this awesome post. It’d be like, the anti-karma. Love you Jenny, keep being an amazing philanthropist. PS- Can’t wait for next Christmas’s gift card frenzy. I think I’ll be able to help next time, unlike this last time.

  25. I have followed you forever and I’m glad you used your unique site to help out those who desperately need it. I don’t think people realize just how critical that 10 dollars is and I’m very glad you exposed us a little to the sheer relevance the people of Japan have even on sites such as this.
    Thank you.

  26. Your ability to pull people together to help anyone at any time who needs it is truly wonderful and inspiring. I don’t know anyone in Japan, but I feel like this tragedy is just so huge in scope that the World feels like family and we are all hurting and praying. Thank you for all you do Jenny, you prove that one person can make a difference but when we all join together we can do anything.

  27. I honeymooned in Japan. For months after I felt “homesick” for the culture, the history, the landscape, the food & the beautifully dignfied people. My heart aches for them and their lovely broken country.
    If you ever rustle up enough Xanax to travel to Australia, I’d show you around for free too…

  28. This post is so…perfect. Meaningful, personal and action oriented. Exactly what we all need right now as we watch helplessly.

    And yes, normal people organize by color. And size.

  29. Donated. Thanks. My daughter has two friends (twin boys) from preschool who were moving back to Japan on Thursday. And another friend from preschool who is moving back there next month. They are us, indeed. Thanks so much for posting this.

  30. You had me at boobies…

    But really, ty for text info, didn’t know could do it that way, thanks.

  31. that’s really cool & easy with the text donations. they don’t do that in Oz (yet) but I think it would make a lot of people give who usually don’t. nice of you to think of your Japanese readers, I hope they all are ok.
    This is all so big and scary.. again. 🙁

  32. Feeling technologically savvy and philanthropic at the same time leads to feelings of warm fuzziness. Who knew? Big juicy good vibes go out to the Japanese. I love them. I love their country. I love their noodles and how they WANT to learn English. I had two Japanese people hop in my car once to lead me to my hotel. Amazingly generous.

  33. Jenny – during your Christmas match-ups, you matched me up with a lovely lady currently living on an armed force installation in Japan. I e-mailed her yesterday and was so pleased to get an almost instant response from her to say that her and her family are all safe. I am glad to know that, and also glad that you have posted ways to help others in such great need right now. Thanks!

  34. Like others have said there’s no need to be funny all the time. This was an important post for so many reasons. As someone who has made a career out of fund raising I can say that every dollar helps. No matter how large or small the donation every single one of them makes a difference. Text giving is great. And easy too. But it takes the charity 60-90 days to actually receive your gift because you have to pay your cell phone bill before the cell provider will cut a check. I’m sure money will still be needed at that time, but to have a more immediate impact go to their website and make a credit card gift. End of PSA….

  35. My thoughts and prayers are with those in Japan and everyone who has friends and family there. For those of you who wish to donate, you can also text the word “QUAKE” or “JAPAN” to the number 80888 to donate $10 to the Salvation Army. You will see the charge on your phone bill just as with the Red Cross, the proceeds will go directly to helping Japan and it is tax refundable. :0)

    Jen, I love the Minnie Mouse voice. I agree that yes indeed, boobie pudding should be refrigerated. I know I always chill mine, anyway. And I use the sauce. Always. However, I never use the shovel. Its just best to lick it. Straight from the boob. Like nature intended. ;0)

  36. This post is written very well and thank you for writing it. My prayers are with those in Japan and all those affected by the earthquake and aftermath. Also saw your tweet concerning your husband. Prayers going his way too, hang in there.

  37. Thanks for this post. I went to Tokyo last fall with my husband and we also had a free tour guide who just wanted to practice his English. He spent a full day indulging our every whim, including helping us locate an almost-impossible-to-find bath house. Thankfully we know through Facebook that he’s okay. Everyone we met there was so polite and warm and helpful … we went mostly for the Japanese food, but ended up falling in love with the people and the culture, too. Anyway. Thank you for this post. I just started following you on Twitter and am going to retweet it now.

  38. Bless you, Jenny… I’ve been loving your blog for a long time now, but was always laughing too hard to be able to type a comment. I share your feelings about Japan…

  39. I’m usually a lurker, but I just wanted to say beautiful post. There’s a charity rating site I really like because they are very thorough/stringent on their charity guidelines, that has a post up about how to best give during disasters. Their advice may not be very popular (since they advise that sometimes holding off on donating might be the best approach), however they do give the names of a few charities they most recommend if you are going to donate.

  40. I called Japan home for two years. I am devastated. I currently live in Guam and we were under a tsunami warning while we were watching this all play out on TV, flipping back and forth from one news station to another. Watching all my friends still in Japan posting on facebook about how the shaking wouldn’t stop and how they were scared, was scary for me. I ask that people continue to keep them in your prayers because they are still feeling aftershocks and they are still scared, now because of the fears of the nuclear plant failing. Because we are Navy, many of my friends and I have loved ones helping in the rescue efforts. As crazy as it may sound, I wish I was in Japan.

  41. Thanks, Jen. Things are crazy here. The news is full of disaster. It’s very sad. We’re having fairly constant aftershocks, even here in Tokyo, which is scary. The grocery stores are full of people stocking up on food. There are gas shortages, the looming threat of power outages, and just general anxiety. We’re all keeping our kids close- we’re shaking even as I write this.
    The Japanese and those of us who are living here are guests are lucky that there’s a sound infrastructure in the modern areas. That foresight prevented this from being an even worse disaster than it is.

  42. @Robynn, actually the question mark is really funnier and in fine form.
    @ Jenny, how can I read your blog the same way having heard your sweet, child-like voice.
    Not sure how to handle this.

  43. You’re wonderful. And yes, it’s good to switch gears sometimes. Thanks for sharing. We don’t need funny all the time. Sometimes smart is better.

  44. Beautiful country with genuinely beautiful people. My thoughts (and humble monies) go out to them.

    Quick question… why aren’t you selling “THIMK” pins at ““Eight pounds of uncut cocaine”?

  45. I have also been to Japan and had such a lovely time with the amazing people of Tokyo. They are just lovely (even the one who kept grabbing my arm and saying ‘fat! fat!’ – She was so excited that I just couldn’t be upset with her!). I definitely have a soft spot for Japan, and my thoughts and prayers are with them too.
    I hope all your friends are safe.

  46. ‘Quick question… why aren’t you selling “THIMK” pins at ““Eight pounds of uncut cocaine”?’

    Brilliant! I agree. Soooo befitting! Although, personally, I would love to see a “FuKu Poo” T-shirt. ;0)

  47. I have never posted, but have been reading your posts and the comments for months and months. You and your readers are BEYOND hilarious. I especially love your conversations with Victor. Anyway, today I had to say your kind heart shows through in your concern for the devastation in Japan and the surrounding area.
    After watching your pudding video, I have to “insist” you go to the website “” for more side-splittingly funny Asian products, signs, etc. It is not to poke fun at anyone because English is said to be the most difficult language. And it’s not all Asian because I’ve seen submissions from other countries as well.
    So if you need to laugh out loud immediately after watching the depressingly sad news today, go over to Engrish.
    From one Southern Belle to another, I love you, Sugah. Bless you and yours, and your mamma an’em.

  48. Many people want to help out, but other than money or being an aid worker, there is another way to help by sending words of support and hope. You can send your message online to school children and emergency workers in Japan via Hope Letters at Hope Letters will translate them into Japanese and deliver them to local organizations for posting/broadcasting (when it is practical and effective to do so). Help give hope!

  49. As a reader and a resident of Japan, thanks for the post. We are far away from the actual damage, but it is all we can think about because we do love our adopted country and countrymen.

    That video was priceless by the way. If you ever want/need more of the Japenglish accessories, just let me know. And yes, the pudding was undoubtedly an egg pudding that the Japanese love so much, which definitely needs to be refrigerated.

  50. I’m one of your regular readers in Japan, and also from Texas like you. I am in the Tokyo area and things around here weren’t as bad as what you might be seeing on the news. We are still having problems with food, water, utilities, and horrible aftershocks. It’s terrifying beyond description. I can’t imagine what the people in north eastern Japan are going through right now. But thank you for this post and and to everyone who is expressing support and helping in whatever way they can. It really means a lot and has helped tremendously to know there are people out there praying, thinking of us, and trying to help.

    My family and I are fine, but there are lots of people who aren’t so please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers.

  51. I would like to help the quake victims in Japan, but I can’t believe that Doctors Without Borders would help a 1st world country and I think the Red Cross just puts the money in a genreral fund and it may go elsewhere. Is there a Japanese relief organization?

  52. Jenny, lovely words, they are us- thank you. I hope any who can, help.

  53. Donated! My best friend’s whole family is in Japan and somehow despite being in an area hugely affected, their house is all right, they’re all right, and life is almost normal. A miracle of engineering, I’d say. Glad to help out in a small way.

  54. I’ve been sck all weekend so I’ve been stuck to my couch and watching the devastation. My tears are only adding to my already pounding head, but I can’t stop watching. It’s so tragic, so powerful, so very sad.

    Thanks for the reminder that there is an easy way to at least donate a little of what we can.

  55. Thank you so much for posting this. As I was reading I realized how lucky I am to be sitting on my couch surfing the internet and how easy it is to do somethign small but meaningful to help the people of this tragic situation.

  56. The violence of the geology of that region really sets off how gentle those people really are. We practice their traditions in our karate club, calling each other “mister” and bowing in greeting a parting. It’s their sheer strength and discipline that will bring them through this problem better than they were before. I’m proud to have them as friends.

  57. Thats what I was saying last night we are all people. The hatred bewilders and saddens me, thanks for the wonderful story.
    I will skip the vid ( I wouldn’t want your Mickey Mouse voice to endanger your online persona) LOL

  58. Thank you so much for posting this Jenny! I am an American working in Japan (who often reads your blog to maintain sanity while in my crazy work environment) and Japan really needs all the help it can get! Everyone please re-post the links to your facebooks, twitters etc. I have never met more kind and helpful people than I have during my time in Japan. They would do the same for us!

    If anyone is interested in an alternative to the Red Cross this organization is being recommended by NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization. (If you put the site into google translate you can see how to donate in English)

  59. My family and I lived in Japan for three years. We are heartbroken. Even when you leave Japan, the country stays forever in your heart. The Japanese people are the warmest, most stoic and resilient people on earth. God bless them.

  60. Thank you for the post Jenny. I’m currently in Fukushima, one of the worst hit areas in Japan and any help we can get will be greatly appreciated by all.

    Thank you.

  61. While this horror unfolded in Japan, I was on vacation, shopping in another part of the world. Giving is just my Your-Lucky-Ass-Happens-To-Be-Elsewhere tax. Doctors Without Borders is my favorite donation target.

  62. Jenny, you remain my hero. Kirsten (above) and I are working together here in Japan, though we are far from the damaged area. Strangely, I had just been put under for surgery (on my ass, if you can believe it) when the earthquake hit. I woke to a different Japan, but a world which is still a place where people reach out to help each other. In conversations with my doctor since, he says it best: we are lucky. Now we need to help others. Our school is donating directly to the city prefecture, so 100% goes straight to the victims. I can probably dig up a way to do that for those of you who want alternatives. Email me if you want to and I’ll ask around about international donations. Kirsten & I can probably work something out with our school. XOXO from Japan.

  63. Anon…to answer your concerns.
    Doctors without Borders helps wherever there are major disasters. And the Red Cross uses the money that you earmark, where you earmark it for. That being said, there are a thousand disasters every day. If you’ve ever lost your house in a fire, that’s the biggest disaster there ever was…to you. Those dollars that go into the general disaster fund are just as important as the dollars that go for the big, sexy disasters. Give how you want. But give to an organization that uses your dollars well and wisely.

  64. Since I’ve heard your voice a bunch now it doesn’t clash with your blog posts at all. but before I heard your voice I think I imagined a deadpanned Maggie Gylennhaal.

  65. My depression about world events in general doesn’t allow me to comment on the horrible-ness of this. But I realized I seemed sort of petty just commenting about your voice. Chances are I will end up donating some of my unemployment. Because losing both of one’s jobs in the same week is not nearly as bad as losing everything else.

  66. Not to detract from the horrible events in Japan……….. but I just have to say, the end of the video where you said that what you do all day is practice looking angry…. hotly. Had me cracking up.

    Thank you for all the laughs…

  67. Thank you for this post, Jenny. We had a foreign exchange student from Japan live with us while I was in high school. She doesn’t live near the quake, but I’m hoping to hear from her soon, hoping she’s safe, hoping she has what she needs. I’ve passed on the information about donating to my fb friends.

  68. How do I subscribe to your blog via email? You are a great read. But unless something can make itself pop up into my inbox with the rest of my favs, I forget to read it! 🙁 Help me Bloggess.

  69. Great post. Thank you, Jenny. I just did the text donation. My thoughts are prayers are definitely with your readers in Japan. They are with everyone there.

  70. Hi there, Jenny take a look at this….

    if that is not powerful enough to inspire people to donate, I don’t know what is

  71. After Katrina, the people and businesses of Japan, as well as their government were gracious and generous to all the survivors of the hurricane. I worked as a case manager during this time, and some of this money went to help people who had been through so much to get back on their feet.

    Also, if you are looking for how your donated money is spent, check out

  72. As a survivor of Katrina, thank you to the folks above who have provided links to donate to places other than Red Cross. Red Cross pulled a bunch of BS after Katrina and didn’t show up in the city for over a month and a half. When they finally set up supply stations with food, cleaning materials, etc., I was screamed at by a Red Cross lady and accused of stealing because we had a van and were picking up supplies for elderly neighbors. When I told her that, she informed me that they should be walking down there themselves… 2 miles in 90+ degree heat. I am not convinced that all monies earmarked for certain disasters actually go to those specific disasters… this comes from speaking with disgruntled Red Cross employees. After Katrina, the “hippies and freaks” got here first (we raised money, bought supplies, forged documents and ran the gauntlet past military blockades on a daily basis)… one such group, along with feeding anyone left in St Bernard Parish, was also feeding the Red Cross workers.

    Salvation Army, on the other hand, was there within a couple of weeks and were wonderful. I always put money in the Salvation Army folks bins now.

    Sorry to rant and rave about the Red Cross, but please be careful who you give your money to – as a survivor of a disaster I understand how important outside help is… and how important it is that monies donated actually go to those that need it.

    And it goes without saying that my heart breaks for what the Japanese are going through now. The road to recovery is long and tough…. I know.

  73. I just read this and while I love all your funny posts it was really refreshing to see this thoughtful one about Japan. I’m half Japanese and spent a lot of my childhood in Japan so everything going on over there is dear to me.

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