Friday, March 18, 2011

Messages from Japan

A note on the photos in this post: 

I lived in Yamagata, Japan for a couple of years (2006-2008), which is only an hour drive from Sendai. We'd travel by bus to shop in Sendai because it was the biggest city around. Korey and I loved to go to Matsushima, a town on Japan's east coast near Sendai. We'd walk across the red bridges to visit the shrines on the coastal islands there, stroll on the shore, and eat fresh oysters. I haven't seen any pictures of Matsushima after the tsunami. For now, I want to remember the beautiful, joyful moments I spent there.   

Hello again. I took some time away, but now I'm back. This week has been unbelievable. The photos of Japan have taken my breath away time and time again. I keep looking. I can't stop myself. I look away, then look again. I can't believe the destruction wrought by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear instability. Houses gone, towns disappeared, family lost.

I've struggled to keep any kind of positive outlook, but what has helped me most are emailed conversations with my friends in Japan. My friends are safe and their families are safe. Most surprising to me are their positive attitudes. Yes, they are worried, but they are also so glad to be alive and confident that their country will recover.

From my former supervisor Yoriko:

"All the teachers in kitako [North High School] are ok. It was sudden, big earthquake and all the electricity were gone, but now everything is all right."

From my friend Yu:

"Thank you for your message.
It makes me cheer. We will be OK. Japan has been revived many times since disasters."

From my former student Ayumi: 

"We are ok! There weren't got so big damage in Yamagata. I hope a lot of people who live in the disaster area will be good soon."

From my friend Fumiko:

"And after all it's my country and I can't run away or fly away to another country so I think I just do what I can do to help the victims' life and this situation improve. Anyway for now don't worry too much. have to appreciate we have our life!"

Me, Mika, Hiroka, Mika's mom

This last message is from my friend Mika. I tutored her daughter Hiroka for a year. Mika made me feel like part of the family. I heard from her just after the earthquake before the tsunami hit. Her words really lifted my spirits because I saw how strong she remained for Hiroka (now almost 6). 

Mika describes Hiroka's reaction: 

"Hiroka never mind about earthquake. She dances in dark room!"

* * * * * 

I'll leave you with that image.

A little girl dancing in the dark. 

Such joy and hope even among the darkest destruction.

* * * * * 

If you'd like even more hope, watch this video that my friend Kat made. Kat lives in Yamagata now and put together a video about this past week. The students in the video are amazing!


  1. Thank you for posting this Allison.

  2. I have been thinking of you much. I'm very glad to hear that all of your friends are safe and able to contact you.

    The images have stunned me.

    But I have no doubt that the brave and dignified people of Japan will recover, rebuild, and continue their lives.

  3. Out of the mouths of babes...
    I'm glad to hear that those you love are well. It's all just so much to process.

  4. You were in my thoughts when I heard about the disaster in Japan. I wondered about the city you lived in and the friends you met there - how they fared. Thank you for posting this.

  5. It really hits home when those you know and love are affected. This posting made it seem even more real -- but it's still so unbelievable.

  6. great post. i shudder to think what has become of matsushima now, but it's good to remember it as it was, and as it'll live in my memory. thanks for stirring some old times!

  7. Such inspiring messages of endurance and the ability to overcome! Thank you for sharing all of your special messages from your friends. The last message was the most striking, as I really did picture my children dancing in the dark...only I realized, mine are afraid of the dark--wonder what that says?

  8. You have such a personal perspective on this tragedy. Glad to hear your friends are safe. It has been so hard to watch the images on the news, I can't imagine what they are going through. Thanks for your post.

  9. I stopped by here on a whim. My heart is heavy and I so appreciate your wonderful photos. It is all so very devastating, and I'm speechless at the suffering occurring.
    xo Jules

  10. So beautiful...the image of little Hiroka dancing in the dark in my head. Everyone seems to be pretty optimistic... It's amazing. God help them!


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