Today is March 11th, the 6 year anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake. I’m not Japanese, but this disaster tore my heart apart as much as 9/11 did.
I was in Tokyo, about far away from the earthquake as Maryland is from Boston, when I felt the ground shake and stuff started falling off shelves in the supermarket. I dropped my groceries and rushed to the door with everyone else and watched the buildings sway. I met my co-workers and a few students in front of the Shinyurigaoka Berlitz school and we waited to see what would happen, all checking social media. Trains everywhere had stopped. Classes got cancelled. My teenage student said solumnly, “If we felt it this much here, it must be SO big there. I worry about a tsunami.” I thought a tsumani was just a tall wave, like the kind you surfed on. I thought I saw a disaster movie once where people run from a wave.
The truth is worse. A real tsunami is when the sea rises up, black and ominous, and swallows the coastal cities. It boils through the streets, picking up and carrying along cars and trees and ships and smashing them into buildings.
I spent the night at my office and watched footage on my co-worker’s laptop. I cried my eyes out. How many people had died? Certainly not everybody could have managed to evacuate!!
The next day I made it home and then heard about the powerplant damaged possibly exploding, sending radioactive clouds over Tokyo!?! My boss told me to come into work but screw that, I called her boss because I knew him, and he told me I didn’t have to go. LOL I traveled west to Nagoya and Osaka to get away and slept at a friend’s friend’s house.
I write a blog like this every year, but I will never ever forget. I’m crying just remembering the videos of destruction.
The gov claimed they had things under control a week later, (they were lying but at least it didn’t explode more) and I went back to Tokyo and tried to continue with life. Things weren’t the same. I had to stop eating peaches, and check the labels on the produce to make sure it wasn’t grown up there in Tohoku. Farmers and officials claimed that everything was safe, but they were obviously lying to save their businesses. There was NO WAY the food was okay up there. And it later came out I was right. And the economy up there went to hell because nobody was buying the food from up there, but sorry, I don’t want to die? People lost their homes and had to move into temporary houses. People are STILL living in temporary houses to this day. The world forgets these things because it’s not top news anymore. But the power plant is still not okay. They Japanese are still pumping water in there to cool the reactors, and have developed a system to clean the water. It was and probably still is leaking out into the ocean, contaminating the fish, etc. It’s a mess.
I remember taking a volunteer trip one year after the disaster with my gym, because my teacher’s friend lives up there, and handed out supplies. We also built a park with nothing but our hands and a shovel and hammer.
Some news just came out that the radiation was worse than they had estimated…but it’s better now! 😀
hah of course, duh, we all know the gov is lying to us to prevent panic.
I may live in America now, but half of my heart is still in Japan. I have so much respect for the people who’ve lost so much but still work hard and do their best to get on with their daily lives! ganbare Nihon!