Editor’s note: Thompson Rivers University journalism student Mimi Nakamura spent the summer of 2010 in Revelstoke working as an intern at the Revelstoke Times Review. We asked Nakamura, who moved to Canada from Japan when she was a teenager to attend school, to write a column about some of her and her family’s experiences since the devastating earthquake disaster in Japan last week.
By Mimi Nakamura
When I first heard the news about the devastating earthquake and tsunami in the northern part of Japan called Tohoku area, I said to myself, “another one.” Tohoku experienced an earthquake in 2008, killing over 20 people and damaging many homes and properties. After two and half years, the biggest earthquake in history hit Tohoku on Mar. 11 when people had just overcome the pain and sorrow from 2008. This time, nobody knows how many people have gone missing. Nobody can even make a guess of how much destruction has occurred.
I went onto the Internet as soon as I heard the news, sending emails to my family, relatives and friends in Japan. My heart was pounding while I typed “Are you okay?” in Japanese.
My father sent me an email through his cell phone an hour after the earthquake, “I am okay, but I am stuck in a train station in Tokyo.” He was on his way to get back home from a meeting in Tokyo when the earthquake hit there. He told me later that he suddenly fell to the floor when his train started shaking hard. Screams echoed through the subway car.
My mother sent me a text message from Hiroshima city after she spoke to my brothers and father, and that was when she told me that my second brother Atsushi Nakamura, a specialized rescuer and firefighter, was called out to head up to Sendai City in Miyagi prefecture to rescue tsunami and earthquake survivors. He was off duty that day, but he packed his belongings as soon as he could, and he ran to his fire station. He didn’t even have time to say goodbye to his children Daino and Hana. I have tried to get a hold of him many times, but I haven’t heard anything back from him yet since the lifelines are all shut down. His children Daino and Hana cried when they found out that their father has left to go up north, not knowing when he will actually return home.
My family and I know that my brother will come home safely, but we still worry about him every second. My grandmother has been spending more than 10 minutes a day in front of butsudan, a family Buddhist altar, praying for my brother and other people’s safety.
Luckily, all my friends in Tokyo and Tohoku area are safe and sound, but they told me about the horrifying experience through emails, Twitter and Facebook.
Takumi Maruyama in Tokyo told me that his book shelf fell on his bed when the earthquake hit there. He could barely move, but he crawled onto the floor and evacuated underneath a kitchen table. He sent me a text message saying, “Mimi, Tokyo is shaking. It’s crazy here.”
My best friend Megumi Suzuki spent the most terrifying day on Friday, trying to get a hold of her family who lives in Fukushima prefecture where the major destruction occurred. She said that she started crying when she found out that her family was safe and there was no damage to her family home.
Japanese people are going through a very harsh time right now, but they know that they need nintairyoku, the power of patience, to survive through the destruction. I will keep praying for Japanese people until their families and friends unite again like my grandmother does in Japan, but in Canada.