It’s the anniversary of March 11th here in Japan, and a lot of Japan is musing. Actually, maybe the entire world is musing. I’ve watched two specials on Japan in the past few days: one on Fukushima by Frontline, a PBS program from the States. The other was called “Children of the Tsunami,” a BBC documentary. They stirred up a lot of emotions, especially the latter. Told from children’s eyes, the story is real, moving, powerful and leaves you with a heavy sadness. Yet the documentary reminded me of how resilient children are. And, as a teacher, it reminded me of how we hold so much responsibility. There’s an underlying theme of decision making and how to respond in an emergency. There’s a lot going on in the documentary. Go watch it and let me know what you think.
We observed a moment of silence with several thousand people at a park in Yokohama today. Turned toward the north, in the direction of Tohoku, we were silent. Ships in the harbor blew their loud horns one after another for a minute.
It seems like March 11, 2011 was so long ago now. The days following the earthquake and our decision to flee Yokohama and then Japan and then to return was like a condensed lifetime. The earthquake and its aftershocks upset my equilibrium for a month. But, we didn’t have it bad at all. A small piece in my fish tank fell over. My family was safe. We were shaken, but safe.
How have things really changed since last year? A lot of Japan is hurting. Parts of Japan are like ghost villages. An invisible swath of radiation encircles an area of north of here where I haven’t traveled. People are still missing. But in Yokohama, life goes on. We work, we go to school, we play.
How have I changed? I do think about what we eat. I joined a co-op where my first tour told me that everyone was concerned with radiation. Vegetables are marked as having been tested numerous times for radiation. I don’t buy fish anymore because I’m just not sure. I’m not traveling up north of here. I check out the emergency supply aisles that seem to be in every large store now. I check my earthquake app. on my phone every night before I go to bed, and I still have daydreams and night dreams of a big earthquake and grabbing my daughter and running outside.
The news tells us that March 11th wasn’t the big one. Scientists are predicting that it’s highly probable the big one will hit in the next 4 years, and it will erupt under Tokyo. What do I do with that information? What does anyone do right now? For some reason, I think that maybe if we leave before four year time, we’ll be ok. But it could happen any minute. The weekly jolts that wake me up for a split second in the middle of the night remind me of that.
I live with awareness and try to come back to my Buddhist teachings. Don’t hold on to a perception. It just is. Live in the moment. Be aware and breathe. That’s all I can do right now.