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Fifth year anniversary: Remembrance of 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The letter I wrote to my friends in America.

Updated on March 25, 2016
Yukiko Takemoto profile image

Native of Japan, Yukiko lives in New York City. She is a bilingual vocalist, healer, Japanese language teacher, and professional organizer.

My Hubpages debut is dedicated to my home country, Japan.

March 11th is an unforgettable date for all Japanese, whether they live in or outside Japan. We are in deep reflection throughout this month, for the tens of thousands of lives lost in the tsunami five years ago.

It is coincidental that I discovered Hupages on this March 11th. I would liked to dedicate my first Hub writing to my home country, Japan, in remembrance of the once-in-a-thousand years tragedy that occurred on March 11, 2011 when Japan was hit by a giant earthquake and tsunami. I will do so by sharing the newsletter I wrote on March 13, 2011, just two days after the event. I had just returned to New York from Japan several days before. The natural disaster has changed many lives in the world, including my own. As I read the letter, everything became so real once again, and I deeply feel it is critical that I make this letter available for others. It is my hope that this letter conveys the power of Nature, and the power of Love. It is only a beginning. I will share more in my future Hubs. There are so many videos uploaded to Youtube. If the video attached here is too long for you, please feel free to skip or choose a shorter version at Youtube.Thank you for visiting my Hubpages debut.


Newsletter by Yukiko on March 13, 2011, upon her return from Japan.

Dear Friends in America, March 13, 2011

I returned from Japan on Friday March 4th. It was a week before the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan (March 11th.) I have received many phone calls and emails in the last two days and realized that, since most of you don’t know I am back, your concerns may be great. So I am replacing my usual I-am-back greeting with the thoughts and stories on these events. I’ve been getting information from my mother and sister who are in the safety of Osaka in southern Japan, and I have been viewing the latest news about the damage and recovery details via NHK news.

Thousands of people are still missing. It could be tens of thousands. I call my family every day and the stories I hear are heartbreaking. My sister told me, this disaster is known to have happened only once in a thousand years in human history. It is the most devastating experience Japan has ever had since the WWII.

How I learned about it. From your concerns.

2:00 am on March 11, my friend Michael called me and left a message with his condolence. He briefly mentioned what he’d seen on TV. I immediately called my family in Japan and made sure they were OK and learned what had just happened. It was 4:00 pm in Japan, less than an hour and a half after the earthquake hit the northeast. At 6:00 am Beverly, another friend, called with the sound of great despair. She was concerned if my family was OK. Then another friend called around 8:30 am with the same concern. Then the ConEdison meter reader at the door around 9:00 am, asked me if I was OK. I received another call from my building manager at 9:20 am. His wife who works in the hospital had called and told him to call me. The next day, yesterday, I received another four phone calls and flood-like emails asking if I was back, if I was OK, and if my family was OK.

Earthquake | Source

My family and friends

My family lives in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo. These are parts of the Kansai area which is 340 miles south-west of Tokyo. At the time of the earthquake by which Tokyo was greatly attacked, people in the Kansai area were feeling only minor shakes. My mother was taking a nap and didn’t notice it. I sent emails to every Japanese person I know in the US and in Japan and asked if they and their families were OK. Those who live in Tokyo replied with detailed they had to walk home because the transportation was shut down, and how badly damaged their homes were when they reached home. A son of my friend from high school went to college in Sendai where the Tsunami engulfed large part of the city. He had been back home since the graduation. He is worried if his friends in Sendai have survived. My mother and my sister told me when they sit down to a meal, knowing the people are dying by the thousands and survivors have no water or food, they cannot eat. As I said to them, we cannot believe such heaven and hell in one small island nation.

Preparation was not enough

Japan is used to natural disaster, and the caution and preparations are part of our cultural experience. Yet, all the buildings were not prepared for an earthquake with magnitude 8 or beyond. People knew the earthquake was on its way, but never could imagine it would be this bad. My sister who experienced the last earthquake (magnitude 7) in Kobe in 1995 which killed 6,400 people states that this is no comparison.

The moment the earthquake with the magnitude 9.0 happened in the Pacific ocean near Fukushima prefecture, all of the broadcast stations in Japan turned into news stations reporting the event and are still that way. As I write this on the third day after the massive destruction, 310,000 evacuees are taking shelter, 24,000 survivors are stranded needing help, and the number of death confirmed is 1500. Thousands of people are still missing. The survivors don’t know if their family members are alive. The rescue seems slow in progress since the destruction is so great. In just one town half the population is missing (9500 people). Nuclear reactors are in serious condition. My sister told me last night that the reactors were built in the early 1970s with the estimated life of 25 years. This means the reactors have been forced to live too long.

Enough coverage has been broadcast over the radio, TV, and internet. They are real, yet it seems surreal. My 84 year old mother just told me on the phone what she saw on TV today: a seven year old girl crying out to the ocean, “Mother! Mother!” ; an old woman washed away right after handing her grand baby to the hand of a rescuer. One survivor who was interviewed said she was not sure if it was good that she survived. This is the most devastating disaster Japan has ever experienced since World War II. The difference is that this time it was caused by nature.

National geographic witness disaster in Japan

My prayer

For Japanese, nature is also god. We must accept this god’s decisions, because it is nature and you can’t fight with nature. That doesn’t mean we like it. My friend points out that we have more people than Earth is supposed to manage. Yet as I feel the pain from the unexpected destruction and great loss that the people in my country are going through, tears stream down my face. I imagine how I would be if all of my family are wiped away in an instant by raging water. Will it make me strong? Or will it make me weak?

In my prayer this morning, I could see my father (who was a healer when he was alive) working to guide the lost souls in the ocean, and consoling the evacuees and survivors with his healing hands. I dedicated each pose of my morning Yoga practice to the people in Japan with hope to bring strength for them to stand again on their feet.

A neighbor taught me a Spanish saying when I was having a difficult time a decade ago -- “There is no bad thing from which the good does not come.” I see this is true. Each time we experience great loss of life caused by man or nature, (such as 9-11 or the tsunami), people become kinder. It is a great comfort to know that foreign rescuers have already arrived in Japan from the US, South Korea, China, Singapore, Germany and Switzerland and now more. I have heard there are more than 69 countries helping. Perhaps the massive loss of human lives can serve as an instrument for people to come together as one, even though our languages and cultures are different.

Please join me in prayer in your own homes for the people in Japan, for we are in great power together in our spirit of love and good will. I trust that if we can recover from the great loss in WWII where 700,000 Japanese civilians died, we can recover and regain power even more and faster from this experience of catastrophe because this time we have so many friends like you from around the world.

Thank you for your kind thoughts or prayers, and for concern for me and my country.

With tears and heartbreak...and hope,



Dear Readers,

Thank you for reading my first Hub, which is dedicated to my home country, Japan, in remembrance of 2011 earthquake and tsunami. You have just read a copy of the newsletter I wrote two days after the event.

In five years Japan has come a long way, but people who lost their loved ones and homes at once still need more time for healing. My prayer continues.

So many countries around the world reached out to help. The factual information and videos with appreciation will be shared in my later newsletter which I will post in my future Hubs.

Again, thank you for visiting my Hubpage debut.



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    • Yukiko Takemoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Yukiko Takemoto 

      5 years ago from New York, USA

      Thank you very much Bev (theraggededge), for your kind comments. How did your son like Japan? What was he doing in Osaka for a year and when? Did the tragic event that included nuclear disaster change his feeling about Japan?

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev G 

      5 years ago from Wales, UK

      My son spent a year in Osaka, and even though he wasn't there on that March 11th, I was glad that the region wasn't badly affected.

      I like your perspective that, in nature, stuff happens and there's nothing anyone can do about it. It makes me feel both relieved and very small at the same time.

      Good hub... and I pressed the Follow button :)

    • Yukiko Takemoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Yukiko Takemoto 

      5 years ago from New York, USA

      Thank you Bob. I very much appreciate your positive comment. :-)

    • profile image

      Bob Curren 

      5 years ago

      Thank you for for posing this thoughtful, informative letter. Your love of country, family, and friends is truly remarkable. Looking forward to reading more from you in the future.


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