We’ve Been Published!

THIS is pretty exciting!  I just received the following letter from the publisher of Anne Thomas’s new book, “Letters From The Ground to the Heart”.  500 Frogs has been included!  I am so honored. Once again,  another miracle we have all been part of. Anne’s lovely book will go to help so many people who’s lived were affected so terribly by the Tsunami disaster….I SO love seeing ‘regular people’ doing amazing things to help others. Never doubt the power of people who care!

Many Blessings ~ Deb

Dear All,

David, you know of me from previous contact; Deb & Randy of 500 Frogs, and Cate
of Wishes on Wings, you don’t know me (yet 🙂 – however, I’m emailing to share with
you some exciting and I trust, welcome news…

Shortly after what is now known as The Great East Japan (Tohoku) Earthquake and
Tsunami, I received a portion of one of Anne’s letters here in Connecticut (USA) from
a friend in the UK. I was so struck by the power of her writing, I managed to get in
touch with her and suggest that her wonderful letters be collected in a book, proceeds
from sales of which would benefit survivors of these tragic events. As a writer/designer
et al, I lent to the effort by editing, writing the Foreword for, and designing the cover
and text of this labor of love.

“Our” book is at last a reality. Letters from the Ground to the Heart (Paperback Edition,
228 pages) is self-published and has just become available online at:


Book Website & social media links: http://www.lettersfromthegroundtotheheart.com/

‘Letters’ will soon be available at Amazon and barnes & Noble as well, at selected book
stores, and as both a hard cover w/dust jacket edition and e-book, as well.

David, our sincere thanks for the use of your your translation of Miyazawa Kenji’s poem,
Be not Defeated by the Rain, which, although written almost a century ago – is more
relevant than ever, due in no small part to recent events – and for which you are of course
gratefully acknowledged in the front matter credits.

And Deb, Randy and Cate, we are delighted to be able to share with you the fact that
Letter 28 (pages 139-145) is dedicated to telling readers about your wonderful efforts –
in fact, a hand-painted resin frog and a short blurb grace the back cover!

We hope you will be kind enough to avail yourselves of copies, and that you will also
help spread the word. As the one year anniversary of these events approaches, we
who have been, and remain close to relief efforts, know that people there are yet in
extremely dire need – thus and if anything, we need to redouble our efforts.

Here’s hoping that ‘Letters’ helps reignite global empathy and an outpouring of concern
that results in renewed donations – as well as awareness of your own, wonderful efforts!

Best & Warmest Regards,

Brian Penry
(& on behalf of) Anne Thomas

Penry Creative, Inc.
240 Saw Mill Hill Rd.
Guilford, CT 06437-1019 USA
+1 203.605.8501

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Christmas Cheer

From our 500 Frogs Family to yours ~ Have a Merry Christmas!

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Mr. Naoto Matsumura and 500Frogs

by Anne Thomas

Deb Buckler of California started the 500Frog Project right after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku Japan. Her wish was to give hand painted frogs to children who had suffered during the disaster. “Kaeru” means “frog” in Japanese, and also “come home” and “change”.  Deb’s “Kaeru” endeavor has been very successful. Hundreds of people from all over the USA and parts of Europe have decorated frogs. And they have been given to children in both Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures. And more of these very moving donation days are lined up for the future.

Deb’s concern for people goes well beyond that of children. She is an animal lover as well. So when she heard of the commendable work being done by Naoto Matsumura in Tomioka Town in Fukushima, she wanted to reach out to him also. In April 2011 Mr. Matsumura was featured in several foreign newspapers for his courageous efforts for the animals left behind when people were forced to evacuate from their nuclear infested town. Mr. Matsumura refused to leave, despite warnings from the authorities. “How can I leave the animals behind?” he queried. “They need to be fed. The cows need to be milked. I have to stay here for them.”

Thanks to his selfless devotion to animals, Mr. Matsumura has become quite a hero among animal lovers worldwide. And because of that, plus his doing this alone, Deb Buckler wanted to be sure he, too, got a frog. In a recent e-mail she said, “I am SO touched by his resolve and strength of spirit to hold his own like he does. He has true courage of his convictions and I am impressed at his bravery to stay there in that town all by himself. I would love for him to know that the rest of the world knows he exists and cares about what he is doing. I really believe in honoring even seemingly small things like this, which are so meaningful.”

Then she asked me if I might be willing to find Mr. Matsumura to give him a frog. I love plunging into the unknown to explore the possibilities that often awaken there. So, I agreed to go. I was not sure how to go about finding Mr. Matsumura, however, since he was in the very center of the No-Go Zone around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. I chatted with a kindred soul, Mayumi, about this and we ended up deciding to go together to see what we could do.

I wore my oldest clothes, just in case we would have to destroy everything we had on after venturing into such a dangerous place. But Mayumi had checked on the Internet and found that Tomioka Town’s City Hall was in temporary quarters in Koriyama City. She thought we should start there. That sounded reasonable, so I agreed, although I was not sure they would even admit that Mr. Matsumura was there. After all, he had defied a government order to evacuate.

We found the metal shed acting as the city hall, and much to our amazement outside was a logo with a bright green frog as its motif. There was also a frog windmill outside. Of course, Mayumi and I immediately sensed that things were working in our favor.

And indeed they were. Every person we spoke to was very attentive to our story. “Mr. Matsumura is famous and very respected among foreign animal loves,” we explained. Finally we were able to talk to a very warm, caring woman in charge of helping to locate people from Tomioka Town. “Of course we know Mr. Matsumura,” she said to us. “He used to be in Tomioka Town helping the animals. But now someone else goes there to try to do that work. The animals have become quite wild and we are trying to find ways to deal with them. Now Mr. Matsumura goes around the entire area, but he is no longer in Tomioka Town itself. I have his cell phone number. Let me see if I can reach him.”

She tried several times, but was not able to get through to him. So we left our phone numbers, the bright red frog and a letter for him. She promised to give the frog and letter to the man who often sees Mr. Matsumura so he could deliver it. And she also said that she would call us back to let us know the final outcome of this little venture.

Mayumi and I left pleased. Even though we had not actually given the frog directly to Mr. Matsumura, we both felt sure he would eventually receive it. And of course, we hoped he would feel touched by the concern and respect so many foreigners feel for him, a man who lives true to his own convictions, no matter what the world tells him he should do.

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Frogs With Far Reaching Effects

Our latest batch of 103 frogs have now arrived in Fukushima, Japan! Anne and her friends will be traveling to a school there to help hand them out to the kids next week.
This continues to be such and amazing and heart warming project. So many
frogs still coming and going around here! I know that the love and
compassion that each little frog carries is going to have far-reaching
effects on generations to come. I can’t thank you all enough for your
continued support! I wish you could see all the loving notes and wonderful
pouches, all hand made from the heart. Very, very cool.

As some of you might remember, I had a personal quest, to get a special
frog to a lone man in Tomioka named Naoto Matsumura. This man chose to stay
in this town when the government ordered everyone to evacuate, so he could
take care of the animals left behind. Defying the government is not a
‘normal’ thing to do in Japan, so Mr. Matsumura has had to stay hidden for
the most part.

Read his story.

I am so thankful to Anne for traveling the 2 1/2 hours from her home in
Sendai to try and make a connection with this man, so we could get a special
frog to him. I now have an address I can send things to that will see to it
he gets them. I wanted to honor and acknowledge his bravery and resolve to
stay there and care for as many animals as he can all by himself. It is
amazing, but most of the folks outside his immediate area have never heard of
him. But clear over here in the USA, we have .

Anne wrote a great article about her trip to Tomioka…she doesn’t
drive, so she had to find someone who would drive those 2 1/2 hours, just to
find this fellow for me! I am so floored!
MANY thanks again to all who have participated in this miracle.
Much love ~


(stay tuned for Anne’s article)

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Visiting Fukushima With Frogs

written by Anne Thomas

Fukushima was once a lively prefecture. It used to be famous for marvelous handpicked fruits, exquisite pottery, pristine mountains, a feudal capital Aizu-Wakamatsu, and Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, who helped develop a cure for yellow fever. And now, of course, it is renown for its nuclear power plant meltdown, which has transformed the prefecture into an entirely different place.

All of Fukushima Prefecture is suffering, more deeply than anywhere else in the earthquake-tsunami affected areas. Fukushima’s reputation, now worldwide, is in total disarray. And that is having enormous consequences in that visually magnificent rural prefecture. Not only is there a “no go zone” around the nuclear plant, but business in general is terrible. No one wants to buy anything produced by the farmers or caught by the fishermen there. Thousands of people have left, some going as far as Hawaii or other distant places in Japan. And that means many schools and businesses have been greatly reduced or closed. The prefecture itself is out of money; and the clean up work is far from over. In fact, it will be years before even uncontaminated regions get back on their feet. And the radioactive areas will need far longer, even generations. To put it simply, the atmosphere in Fukushima is dark, heavy, and rather depressing.

School children near the nuclear plant now have to wear a gauge around their necks. This device keeps track of radiation levels. Periodically the government collects these plastic little necklaces and records the data in them. No one is quite sure what is done after that, but hopefully the information will be used in health-inducing, health-protective ways.

Showing the radiation gauge she must now wear.

All of these things are precisely the reason why Debbie Buckler, founder of The 500 Frogs Project, wanted to give homemade creatures to children in devastated areas, especially in Fukushima Prefecture. She asked me for help in finding places to donate her frogs. Fortunately I had a friend, Satsuki, who worked in one of Fukushima’s schools. Thanks to her we were able to meet the kind teachers and heart-melting first and second grade students and to bring a moment of joy into their worry-filled lives.

The joy is evident.

Satsuki brought five of her junior college students to assist us. As we entered the first grade, all the very polite, uniformed children stood up and bowed to us. The looks on their faces were precious beyond belief. There was a sense of great anticipation and excitement, blended with extreme restraint not to rush up and see up close what we were arranging on the tables. One little boy in the back was so excited, he jumped around saying, “This is sooooo exciting! This is sooooo exciting!”

Smiling with delight!

As our junior college helpers lay the colorful, imaginative gifts on the table, Satsuki and I explained to the children about the love and care that was in each frog. Surprise and joy lit up every child’s exhausted face as we talked. And when we gave the go-ahead, they did indeed rush up to the table, but in an impressively orderly manner. They did not push, grab, or snatch. Rather, they gazed at all the frogs, admiring in wonder the little critters with carefully painted folded hands and friendly, welcoming expressions.

The love-filled, colorful frogs waiting for their new friends.

Pondering their choices.

Which one will be my new friend?!

Then one by one the children selected their frog.

This is the one!

And if two kids longed for the same one, they did “scissors-paper-stone” to determine who would get it. The disappointed child would go to another spot to select a “second best”, which would surely soon become a favorite and good friend.

Proud of her selection and new friend.

We did the same with the second graders. They, too, were stunningly well mannered and equally as delighted. They, too, chimed out “Arigatou gozaimasu!” Thank you very much, as they bowed in gratitude to us.

They are all in this together, now with love from over seas.

We took lots of photographs, of course, and admired each child’s frog. We told them they should name their critter and keep it as a friend. First grade kids immediately put up their hands and said, “Mine is named Keiko.” “And mine is PocoPoco.” I’ll call mine Minnie.” “And mine will be Megumi.”

What shall I name him/her?

The second graders were quieter, more thoughtful. They said they would think about it and decide that night at home.

Such a delightful day!

Of course, those moments with the absolutely adorable children of Fukushima were deeply touching and thought provoking. And all of us hope that the vibrant frogs from so far away will be a reminder that they, the children, are not forgotten and that people everywhere really do care.

The delightful pictures speak for themselves… artists and all involved with this project, you are doing a wonderful thing! 

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100 More Have Landed!

Another 100 frogs have safely arrived at our contact in Japan. Anne Thomas and her friend, Satsuki will take the frogs to the elementary school next Friday. I continued to be astounded at how fast these boxes get clear over to Japan, 5 days!!! I can’t get a package across a couple of states that fast! Anne thinks they are giving the frog boxes special treatment. Well… I DO identify the boxes as being from the 500 Frogs project, so maybe that’s true.

They promise to take pictures of the happy kids and their amazing frogs. It’s so cool to be part of this big family here… painting all these frogs and sending them clear over to Japan, where they bring good will for our country(s) and a little love and joy to someone who has lost so much. Fukushima is a major city in Japan and now folks are having to leave it, as well, since the radiation levels have gotten so high. Also, no one will buy anything that comes from Fukushima. (Gee… ya think?!) The Japanese are getting very weary and depressed from all the work and disaster. Many are still living in vehicles or tin shelters, after 6 months! We don’t hear much about this from our media. Of course, we have our OWN disasters to keep us busy, too.

I’d gotten a question about the animal rescue going on in Japan. Unfortunately, there’s  not much. Many of the animals starved to death when their families fled and then couldn’t go back and get them. But there is one man who really intrigues me. This is a fellow named Naoto Matsumura. He stayed back in his city of Tomioka to look after the animals. Here’s a link to his story: http://news.yahoo.com/ap-exclusive-japan-nuke-holdout-resolved-stay-115359874.html  

One of our artists painted a “Guardian Frog” for him, with an anchor and a compass that is so beautiful. But how do you find an obscure, rebellious old man, who’s trying to lay low in Japan?! Well, our contact, Anne Thomas, has taken up the cause and she’s joined with a couple of her “adventurous” friends. They will travel to a town on the outskirts of Tomioka and see if they can make a connection for us! I’ll keep you all posted on this.

I would imagine this man feels very alone and forgotten… he would be charmed to see his story made the American newspaper and that he now has fans. If anyone would like to send him a card or a note of good wishes, please snail mail it to me as I am collecting up a small package for him. He will probably outlive the animals he’s taking care of… or maybe not. I’m pretty sure I’d make the same decision he did, if I were presented with the same options. Life, to me, is precious. But it’s my animals and family that make it so. No way would I walk away from my ranch and go live in my truck. Even if my life was significantly shortened, I wouldn’t want a longer yucky life just so I could live a few more years of that yucky life!

Many blessings to you all and thank you, everyone, for being part of this beautiful extended family. Much love~ Deb

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Froggies Hopping The Sea

More frogs are now enroute to Fukushima. Whew! Another 100 little hoppers on their way across the world. Here’s some pictures of the Poppa-san and Momma-san frogs by Jane… they are SO beyond cute! You did a beautiful job. There are some really special frogs in this group and I already have 10 more toward the next batch! I never get tired of seeing all these unique little froggies. ~ Much love ~ Deb

Created by Jane Schnider 

Deb & Randy w/the cute couple 🙂 

Putting frogs in their coordinated pouches. 

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Frog Photos Being Added

Please be sure to look at the pages above for photos of Frogs 1-50!


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Calling All Frogs!

OMG! This frog project just keeps evolving every day. I just heard from Anne Thomas that some doctors in Fukushima want to have frogs for the kids that are still living in that area. I am SO honored they appreciate our frogs and understand the healing they bring to those kids and their families. Anne will be going to Fukushima herself on Sept. 15th to personally see the frogs be handed out and take pictures for us. Sheesh! WAY too amazing!!! So, please, I don’t mean to rush anyone of course, but I’d sure love to get at least 100 frogs over there. I already have 25 accumulated so far, so if we could get another 75, that would be wonderful. Here’s a couple shots of a sharpie frog I just finished…..I sure love doing this!

Many many blessings ~ Deb

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We Did It!

OK, you guys! Get some Kleenex… I finally got letters and pictures from our contacts in Japan about our frogs at the festival on the 20th! Anne Thomas sent several e-mails with pictures of the children getting their frogs. As you look through these pictures you might see your frog! She’s sending more pics to me on a CD, so I’ll try to get some those posted later. Some of you pouch-makers will see your pouches there too. I have enough pouches now that I am able to match frogs with the best color pouch. Way too much fun!

Boxes of frogs ready for the festival.

WE really made this happen, you guys! There are our frogs in Japan, bringing love and healing. I’m so sad the last box didn’t make it in time for this festival… all MY frogs were in there. But don’t worry, they will have more opportunities. Another box is accumulating here now! Many blessings ~ Deb

(Letter from Anne)

Hello My Dear Sisters of Love and Generosity!

Yesterday was a day that will ALWAYS be a highlight for so many! The festival was grand, with many, many coming to celebrate, to take their minds off their worries. Everyone came with that positive attitude to make it a special day. Mika had a booth and gave The Frogs a prominent place, as you can see in the photos. People were absolutely fascinated by the Frog Project. They came, looked, asked questions, selected a frog, had their photo taken, and then sent friends for their turn.

Satsuki explaining about the frogs. See how fascinated people are with them.

It was a raging success from beginning to end. The adults were as excited about it as the kids. But unfortunately we had to say “Sorry, but frogs are for kids only.” Otherwise we would not have had enough. Everyone was really, really impressed by the variety and quality of the frogs. They loved the names and places written on the bottom of each frog. And they were delighted that some had messages in Japanese!

Junko is behind me. You can see how adorable the little boys are!


Lovely grandmother and her grandson inspecting his frog.

And they were also impressed by the bags! I was very impressed how well you matched the designs on the frogs and those of the bags. All the love and care you put into this project was very, very touching and impressive! The third box did not get there in time. But Mika said not to worry. There will be other occasions when they can be distributed. She will let me know. My two friends, Junko and Satsuki went with me. They were real gems. Junko helped give out frogs. Satsuki enjoyed taking photos. I hope to make a CD to send to you so you can enjoy all the shots, but for now here are a few. Plus I will send on another few e-mails with adorable shots of kids so you won’t have to wait too long to see the photos. I want to label each photo before I out them on CDs, so it will take time.

Young teenage girls selecting frogs.

I have heard that many, many families in Fukushima have been relocated to other areas of Japan. You are sweet to think having some go to the USA. Actually, Japanese are deeply attached to the land itself. Usually their land has been in their families for generations. Plus everyone here has a tremendous sense of being in this together and working together to work out way through this, albeit slowly. No one knows what will happen. We do know the government is covering up a tremendous amount. But if they let all the facts out, it would cause complete panic and probably most of the Northeast region would have to be evacuated. So they are taking very timid steps. And the rest of us are holding hands and soldiering on. Bless us all.

Proudly showing their choices.

The Japanese spirit is truly amazing. I did not have a chance to talk to Satsuki yesterday about Fukushima, where she comes from, and frog distribution there. But I will in the near future. I just found out she has started her doctorate, so is a bit busy, but I will knock on her door soon. But anyway, all that said, Japanese also know how to party and make a happy break from suffering. And yesterday that happened for sure, from beginning to end. Higashi Fukushima is a rural area, so the festival was very local in atmosphere, although folks came for far away places this special year. Many of them were volunteers in this area. It was simply a great day from beginning to end. Thank you so much for letting me part of it. The link with the world was fantastic!

~ Love Anne 

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