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An email from Japan

06/22/2011

I just received an email from our friend in Japan who lives in Miyagi, a town close to Minami-Sanriku… 3/11 was his birthday… here is his email, describing his experience on that day and what he has experienced since 3/11.

 

Thank you very much indeed for the heart-warming mails and contacts you have kindly sent and made us this time.

The quake and the ensuing tsunami that happened on March 11, my birthday, have changed many things completely.

That day, I was happy to receive your mail celebrating my birthday. The earthquake occurred immediately afterward, approximately speaking. I was having some preliminary discussions with my shop manager. Initially, I thought it was a usual one, nothing serious. Gradually, the shaking became greater and greater, however. We tore down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, in the parking lot, we saw many people, i.e. my employees and customers, running this way and that to make their escape, crying. The ground cracked, and, as it shook, the cracks repeated opening and closing. Immediately, the power failed: Signals stopped working, and all our lifelines, to say nothing of the cell phone, were cut on the instant.

Back in the office, we found all the machines, including the computers, had stopped. Reopening for business was out of the question.

About two hours after the quake, which occurred around 2:45 in the afternoon, we received a report that this time a tsunami was hitting coastal towns. It said that even at places fairly removed from the seashore, the tsunami reached close to the fourth floor of buildings. No one believed it. Then, night fell and the darkness settled. Looking around at near-by homes, most of the people slept in their cars to warm themselves because it was very cold inside the house due to the power stoppage. We also passed the night in our cars, watching TV. It showed how the tsunami had caused fires in industrial complexes and how the seaside towns became engulfed in flames. One of my employees was from the affected area. Frustrating my attempt to stop him, he started for his parents’ home.

On that night, I remember, the sky was spangled with stars beautifully, more beautifully than I had ever seen.

The day after. I went to the office and, taking an employee with me, headed toward “Minami-sanriku” on our bikes. There, we saw a vast, unbelievable sight. It was like a picture of Hell. The whole town had been completely effaced. On the few concrete buildings that had remained, bodies were hanging from windows. Survivors were in blank amazement, with their eyes glued on their town, which had been lost. 

Where the tsunami had struck was strewn with hats, glasses, chairs, photo albums, shoes and various other things that got it home to us that people had lived there before. When I saw a red school rucksack that had been estranged from its young owner, my heart was ready to break.

All the public institutions, including the police stations, town hall, and hospitals, had been entirely destroyed. When we came to the place where the beach had been where we had used to enjoy surfing, we saw a stretch of about 500 meters sunk to the bottom of the sea, with the possibility totally eliminated that one can sense there once were the sands there. 

Why could such thing happen? …… I can’t believe it has actually happened, not even now.

For three months following the day, I’ve made rounds of evacuation sites almost everyday, supplying tsunami victims with support materials. Now, after three months, I’m thinking of going forward.

Some of my relatives and friends passed away. Both my house and office have suffered, but all the members of my family and company have been well, giving me at least some comfort. I’ve come to think of surviving by living, as well as mine, the lives the dead can no longer live. How much I’ve been supported by this many mails and contacts you have kindly sent and made me ……

Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. Looking forward to seeing you again,

Sincerely yours,

(Text and image from his facebook)

 

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