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March 11, 2011: What are your memories of that day?


It has been three years since the disaster in the Tohoku region. The earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis affected millions of people.

What were you doing when the earthquake struck? Where were you? How did the disaster affect your life?

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Watching in horror the grey/black goop sweep over the country side.

Trying to contact friends in the region, to no avail.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember walking home ( 5 hours ) and stopping off at a beer vending machine and having a beer with a man who had just got word through his smartphone that his wife and kids were ok. He was shaking and needed something to calm his nerves. He found out I was from Liverpool and we had a debate on who was the greater songwriter - Lennon or McCartney. A good lad.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

At home, in a suburb of Yokohama, my dog nearly jumped out of his skin... There was a lot of swaying going on and then the electricity went out. I guess that's when I was thankful for my Scandinavian origins - I always have plenty of candles at home and had it not been such a terrible earthquake, it was really pretty that evening in the soft candlelight. My son (in France) couldn't get though to me either by 'phone or e-mail, until later that evening when the electricity returned. I still feel the tears well up (even now) remembering when, watching TV, I saw a video taken by an amateur who had managed to flee "higher up" and I watched in horror as people, cars and houses were washed away like flies... It's something I'll NEVER forget...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My iPad did it. To continue. When I heard the news, I had a flashback to Kobe, 1995. I telephoned my wife. She had not heard the news yet. It is going to be bad I said. By the time she came home she had learned how bad it was and filled me in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Heading down to the train station at roughly 6pm and seeing every train line on the map flashing red. Then making the decision - hang around on the platform for however long or make the 20km walk home? Yup - walked 20km along with thousands of others!

Stop off at a combini, absolutely nothing in the way of food. Even the overpriced desserts had gone! Get to the supermarket near my place - shelves were bare. I could not believe my eyes. Wore a face mask for the following few days as I biked it to work (trains were a bit of a mess around that time) and yeah - 1000 yen for bottles of water!

Crazy times. Mind you, what am I saying? The poor people of Tohoku are the ones we should be praying for on 3/11.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thankful that all my students were still in school; 5 minutes later they would have been dismissed and stuck on trains. We were able to look after them until the very last one was picked up at 11 the following morning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One of the few times in my adult life when I was ill enough to stay home. got a short new flash on my computer. Remembering the

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can relate to most of the memories discussed in the comments today. Further to this I can remember vividly how unprepared people were with regards to protecting themselves and their families during the earthquake. Earthquake drills in Japan should be and usually are regular and yet I noticed so many people did not follow procedures. If it had been worse in Tokyo these people would have been injured. I also remember how many people were not prepared for the aftermath of a quake, limited first aid equipment, limited non perishable food supplies, toilet rolls, basic survival provisions and equipment, the list is endless. The result was a panic buy for provisions.

From these memories lessons should be learned for survival. Stay safe, some time in the future another will come, its japan!. make sure you have the provisions to survive and help your family. Then help your neighbours. make sure you have a box of "cant afford to lose valuables" you can put in the car or carry if you have to abandon home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was pretty sure the building I was in was going to collapse on me, I high-tailed it out of there as fast as I could go, but it was hard to keep my balance with the floor moving.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was Scuba Diving in Okinawa back than, today I did the same dive as I did back than...I only hear about it after.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That day is indelibly stamped on my heart and memory for as long as I live, and I hope no one in my life time ever have to witness or bare a similar experience.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was still in Europe at the time but I remember the day and the days after very clearly. I woke up in the morning and turned on the BBC News channel to see the headline ''Massive earthquake strikes Japan'' ''Tsunami heading towards Japan'' ''Japan Devastated by large Earthquake and Tsunami''. I was just left stunned because at the time I had Japanese friends over there, some friends on the JET program and also some family members who were attending a wedding ceremony in Tokyo. So obviously I was very very concerned for them but also for everyone who was in Japan. Thankfully the BBC dedicated 24/7 live coverage of the events that were unfolding in Japan and the devastation that I was watching on screen was just heartbreaking to watch. I couldn't believe that a country I loved was being devastated and then Fukushima went... I know that the NHK tried hiding the events going on at the nuclear reactor however the BBC were showing the events live and just seeing the footage of the nuclear plant was absolutely surreal. Not as much as the death count though. Just seeing the reports of the raising death count was unbelievable and it did fill me with worry for the people I knew.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Nagano Prefecture – it was a quiet Friday afternoon. The earthquake hit but it didn’t FEEL like an earthquake – it seemed like I was on the deck of a ship during a moderate swell. Forceful moving from side to side but no violent shaking. I immediately felt this was indicative of something more serious – how I wish I had been 100% wrong.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In my office building in Marunouchi at the entry way to the office when it hit. Stronger than anything I've ever felt or care to feel again. It started strong and got stronger and went on for what felt like five minutes - probably under a minute. Went to my office, things are generally in disarray. Placed a call to my mom, told her there was a major quake but that I was okay and had to go. Emailed my sister to say the same. Evactuated to the roads in front of Nijubashimae. Major aftershocks. The palace hotel down the road was still under constructions and the very large construction cranes were swinging wildly too and fro. Couldn't get a call out to see if my girlfriend was okay. Started posting on facebook to let everyone know that I was okay (the only time I'd been glad to have a fb account). Walked a scared colleague back to her neighborhood in Akasaka. Hit the bars as soon as they opened and started pounding down the pints. That was when we saw the footage of the tsunamis rolling across the rice fields up north and the place briefly got quiet. Block long line for cabs at Mitsuke. Moved about halfway up the line because people were giving up when the announcers said the ginza line was running. Drunk at that point, said f it and took the subway to Shibuya. Everyone was walking home. It was cold. Supermarket shelves were empty by Monday. On a flight out of Japan with my gf on Tuesday. Last flight out was full of ex-pat momma hens with their chicks. Back in Japan a week later. No foreigners anywhere and all the lights were out in Shibuya at night; everyone was in shades of black and gray.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was at home in our 7th floor apartment In Hachioji. The doors separating the rooms were sliding open and closed by themselves, and all of the water sloshed out of the toilet bowl.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was in the UK, but I was terrified for my ex and her son. I sent her God knows how many emails and messages. Eventually she replied that she was ok, everything in her house had been knocked over, but she was okay. She had been at work when the quake happened and she told me she was under her desk screaming - on the 8th floor! That was Kashiwa in Chiba Prefecture.

I never experienced the earthquake and tsunami, but I was unable to do my job until I heard that she was safe. How would I have reacted had I been there? No idea... but when I was there in May 2011 there was a strong tremor and it was like a roller coaster to me. Scary. Her bravery in getting on with her life with that only a couple of months past really impressed me. She still gets worried when she feels a quake, which is understandable.

I can't imagine how terrifying that day must have been for the people who experienced it first hand... but it scared the crap out of me on the other side of the planet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was down in Kyushu and like most people that far south, we were mostly just spectators like everyone else around the world. I was on a long train ride back and my phone was in my bag on mute. When I finally took it out I saw a few "Are you OK?" messages from home which always, in my mind, means, "Earthquake in Japan." I still really didn't know what had happened until I got home and watched the news.

This is in an email to wrote to my family less than 24 hours after:

"Some of the videos I'm seeing it are just insane. We've had no problems here so most of us are watching it on the news just like everyone else. It's a bit strange to be living here yet feel so detached from it all. I can't imagine what the final death toll will be but after watching the videos I can't believe it's going to stay in the low thousands. It just seems impossible. They have videos from TV crews just driving down random streets in random areas with houses destroyed but no emergency services arriving. It's just not possible to canvass that amount of land. The images remind me of what I've seen from the atomic blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Asleep in the bedroom with my 3mth old daughter and woke to feeling our building swaying (and we lived in Shiga Prefecture then). I thought ok it will stop soon its not so big but it just kept going! When it stopped I turned TV on and was just gobsmacked! Rang home and assured my folks we were fine and texted hubby to say we were ok!! (he was away). Never forgotten!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It was just another day at my home studio when suddenly I felt the usual earthquake movement you feel so many time in Japan... i remember thinking "earthquake again..." but within seconds I realized this time its different. Our whole tower start shaking from side to side stronger and stronger, I remember holding my iMac as it looks like its going to fall off the work table when first time ever in my life, i feel TRUE PANIC --- for a split second, i thought "THIS IS IT...THE BUILDING IS GOING TO FALL, IT WOULD NOT HOLD KEEP SHAKING FROM SIDE TO SIDE THAT WAY" --- and then, as it started, the whole thing just stopped. I looked out the balcony and saw a huge fire burning behind FujiTV building and helicopters buzzing all over the sky. I turned the TV on to realize it was MASSIVE... i am not a person who panic easily.. but that moment shook me forever. I will never forget it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I remember the silence being broken by tsunami sirens.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was sitting alone at home which was at that time a small, old apartment in NW Tokyo. My wife went to the hospital that day for a check. When the quake hit I thought that was it then! Any moment the ceiling will come down! While it didn't, several things and planters fell from the shelves and the balcony door was slammed open. Tried to call my wife but it wasn't possible to reach her. Luckily she made it home that day by walking a few miles and then taking a bus. She barely felt the shake at the hospital.

I remember we watched the chaos arise on the TV and thought "crap! This is really bad!" It was difficult to find any food left to buy at the supermarket for several days.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

At a LPGA golf tournament in Kochi when play was suspended and everyone headed to the clubhouse. No one was allowed to leave as there were fears of a Tsunami reaching the coastline. At first people had no idea of the seriousness of what had happened up north in my original japanese hometown and everyone was in a jovial mood joking about. But after watching the TV in the clubhouse everybody instantly went quiet and tears began to flow. The tournament was cancelled basically on the spot as were the following month of tournaments. It wasn't until we arrived home and I watched the news again did the realisation hit that 15 years ago I used to teach private lessons in the area where the tsunami washed ashore. I went numb and cried thinking about all the people who I used to know from many many years ago.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was in New York City. About to go to bed when I get a ton of emails from people in Japan saying "I'm OK".

If you live in Japan you know that people take their earthquakes in stride, so I knew something awful had happened. Turned on the TV and saw the towns getting sucked into the ocean. Tried calling who I knew in Japan but no phones could get through.

I was working on a large-scale Japanese translation project in Times Square at that time, nearly 100 Japanese translators. We had a few that didn't come back that day, or any day after. Women in kimonos were out collecting money in Times Square while I was calling anyone I could to try and get water and other essentials to the girl I was dating at the time, who was still in Tokyo.

Initially I thought that nobody I knew was directly impacted until I got a call from a former employer who asked if I could remotely assist through their headquarters in NYC as my former colleague and teammate in Tokyo had gone missing. Turns out that she went looking for her parents in Miyagi and never found them.

We didn't meet up again until two years after that day, but the change in her face is clear as day. One only wonders what it's like for those still unable to go home.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Playing online with friends while watching TV news, when it happened, told friends to stop playing and turn on the TV. Didn't sleep for hours.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

HongoTAFE - yes! I remember that now! And I remember reading a news article where an ENT doctor was interviewed a year or so after the quake and said that they had seen a marked increase in people coming to the clinic reporting symptoms of dizziness and vertigo even a year later.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I took off that day so I can relax myself. I did my usual leisure pastime, rented movies and browsed the net. Everything was smooth and peaceful. Later that afternoon I heard a very alarming news about the earthquake and tsunami. I was shocked to hear and see the horrific waves of water sweeping everything in its path. I felt terribly sorry for all the victims. I got numerous calls from relatives overseas wanted to know if I'm ok, I told them I was living far from the affected area. I received a lot personal messages in Facebook from friends who have shown compassion and I was so grateful for that.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I was at home, clearing up after a late lunch. I heard what sounded like a train roaring through the garden, and then the shaking began. I dived under the dining table, and had to hold onto the legs to stop it bouncing away from me. When the shaking stopped, the kitchen floor was thick with broken crockery and glasses, the living room floor was awash with water that had slopped out of the fish tank and the piano had jumped several inches away from the wall. Upstairs the floors were strewn with smashed ornaments, books and more water from another fish tank, which had drowned my computer. The phone was dead.

It took me till evening to confirm via public phone that all the family were safe, and it was the evening of the next day before Mr cleo was able to make it home.

Luckily we had a good stock of emergency supplies and were able to cope quite well with the empty shelves in the shops. There is a petrol station at the end of the road behind the house, and the normally very quiet road was jam-packed for weeks with a long queue of cars, vans and trucks waiting for a ration of petrol.

Our son was able to inform friends and relatives over Skype and Facebook that we were all OK, and when a couple of days later I got a new computer up and running, I had an inbox overflowing with 'We're OK, are you OK?' emails.

HongoTAFEinmate - a lot of people experienced the 'seasickness' you describe. There's even a name for it - jishin-yoi, or quake sickness. I think the usual English term is earthquake syndrome.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

A lot of fear but little real damage in Gunma, where only one person was killed. I was live-tweeting everything, it was Twitter's finest hour since it was the best way to get information and find confirmation that loved ones were okay. Everything else was out.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm sitting in the exact same place I was sitting at that time, here in my lab in Sendai. I feel very uncomfortable and uneasy, and trying to keep quiet but I cry sometimes when I see or read some things. This is unexpected, last year it was fine, why does it affect me like this this time? It was all so confusing. I still hold the greatest gratitude towards the people who offered warm food for people passing by. The memory of a warm bowl of miso soup offered by the old man in the fish shop the day after still makes my chest feel warm and at ease.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I was in Osaka, in an area where no damage occurred, but I remember at the time the quake hit my body was swaying back and forth. For a moment I thought I was just exhausted and my body was showing it through dizziness, but as I always do when I suspect there might be a quake, I look at loose items in a room to verify if they are swinging or not. Sure enough, they were. I went downstairs to a computer school and gestured to the owner, "earthquake?", and he nodded. I realized that everyone was standing up, looking at the television in the room, with had the meteorological map of Japan with yellow flashing across the entire Eastern seaboard of the country, and with some flashing red. It was hard to tell when the swaying stopped, but I followed the info as it came on the computer, and watched horrifying news footage of the tsunami that came after. Almost immediately I started getting emails asking if I was alright.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Aomori. Got out of school early and was driving home from the shiyakusho near the ocean and my Pajero started trembling and didnt stop for almost a minute. I thought an asteroid had struck the earth. I tuned into AM radio to hear about the tsunami and rushed home to my cat. When I got there, it trembled again and I remember laughing at watching my cat trying to walk around while the ground trembled. Fortunately the tsunami didnt affect where I was. But once the electricity went out (rather quickly) me and my friends had NO IDEA what was going on. It wasn't until the next day until we heard about the nightmare. Then I went 2 months without access to cigarettes. I have since quit, but I remember how horrible that was. We were the lucky ones by far. My town experienced a 2 meter tsunami and only lost a few cars and boats.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I was at home and when the shaking started. I thought that it would just be another run-of-the-mill quake but it kept going and going. Directly after that, I went around my neighborhood to the shops and saw goods strewn everywhere.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was in America at the time, and remember the shock of seeing the tsunami videos. Even though I didn't know anyone in the Tohoku region, I spent my free time that day contacting friends in Japan to make sure they were okay, and asking if there was anything I could do or send.

Watched a lot of NHK on the internet in the weeks that followed and shared news information back-and-forth with my friends. I remember being surprised at the difference in media coverage between the two countries regarding Fukushima. I donated to the Japanese Red Cross and held a JRC fundraiser on my business website (where I sell Japanese-made products), giving away prizes in a drawing.

Although I wanted to fly to Japan right away and try to help, my friends advised that it would be better for me to wait. I've been back a few times since, even visiting Sendai for the jazz festival. Funny how people in the U.S. ask me if I'm worried about the radiation, especially when I mention that I stay in Tokyo.

Recently, I started another website. This time to promote tourism to Japan. Not selling anything, just offering practical advice on finding deals, fun things to do, and adapting to the culture. Maybe it will help Japan, even if just a little.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was walking back to the school where I taught in Ryogoku, after a late lunch break. I had been through a number of earthquakes in Japan by that point. After a few seconds it was clear this one was going to be nothing like anything I had experienced before. I thought about the last Great Kanto Earthquake and wondered, fleetingly, "Is this the big one?"

I watched the skyscrapers swaying like grass in the wind and I watched the windows shattering and the people rushing out into the streets. I wanted to get as far away from the power lines as possible so I ran underneath the gate of a temple and stood in that open area.

After the aftershocks died down I went back to the school and we sat in the courtyard with the students while their parents came to pick them up. I tried to hold up a storybook to read to them but my hands were shaking so badly that I couldn't do it. I gave it to another teacher who was much braver than me, and she read them the story in a strong voice and without shaking hands.

I went to my apartment and brought back jackets and coats for the students to wear while they waited for their parents.

I couldn't sleep without getting drunk for many, many weeks afterward.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It was the final day of exams at school so most of the teachers could get out early. It happened in the middle of my commute as I was about to transfer train in Mizonoguchi (Kawasaki) for the last 15 minutes train ride. I remember looking up quickly and finding a pillar to hold on to as it was shaking so much more than any other earthquakes. Most of the people around were all looking at each other and saying "Isn't this really long?"

I had figured the trains would start running again soon after so hung around with the other people stranded at the station, everyone being pretty relaxed. Very little news went around from what was happening, most people were waiting for things to go back to normal. As I was about to start walking home, a German girl approached me asking for information. She had just landed less than 2 weeks before in Japan and spoke little Japanese.

I spent the rest of the day trying to get her on the right bus home, eventually to give up and just bring her home with me so she could Skype with her family. When I got home and turned on the TV, it was the first time I saw what had really happened. It was very surreal. I drove her to a friend's house close to my place after that and asked my then boyfriend (now hubby) to stay home with me for the night. The next couple of days are kind of a haze. Reassuring everyone back home that we were fine, going out and seeing barely any lights on. Very strange.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Did anybody else feel a sense of motion sickness in the days that followed? I couldn't tell when we were experiencing aftershocks and when things were normal. I remember having to carry around a button of water. I would place it next to me and keep checking it for ripples. I must say that it was a really disconcerting feeling that has never really left me. Even today, I sometimes feel the earth shifting when it isn't.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I can tell similar stories to a lot of the people who have commented already and will be commenting soon, but the most haunting thing that has stuck with me since it happened was the looks on the faces of people I met walking around my area of Tokyo during the weekend after the initial disaster. Every pair of eyes you locked with, you both knew exactly what the other was thinking. Everyone just looked shocked, expressionless, like zombies.

The people I knew were like that too. Until suddenly we heard that a classmate of my daughters who had moved to the Fukushima coast just a month before was coming back with her mother and sister, and that the extended family they were staying with were all missing, they themselves had been washed away but rescued and were coming back to Tokyo with nothing more than the clothes they had been given. Then we all snapped out of it and rallied round to set them up. The kid was a miracle. 8 years old and she came right back in to the school and fitted in as though nothing had happened. Her resilience was inspiring when everyone else around me were losing their heads over Fukushima.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Osaka here but I still remember the building shaking for a very long time. Everyone wondering where the epicenter was and finding out its all the way in Tohoku. So you already know it was a HUGE earthquake.

Of course then the first image of the tsunami appears and you still don't realize how big and terrible the situation is until you get home and watch the news. Seeing the black water engulf a complete town, just mind-boggling. Still get goosebumps. Poor people, poor poor people.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I was in the ground floor of the Citi Group center in Higashi-Shinagawa. Rushed quickly outside, and since that is all reclaimed land, and the buildings are built to sway in an earthquake, it looked like the tops of the three towers would bang into each other. Stood there and watched all three towers evacuate and marveled once again at the Japanese sense of organization and calmness. After it was obvious that this was a major quake and the trains/subways would not be operating for quite a while, I started walking back to my company office near Tsukiji. Took about two hours and it was chaos with people walking in every conceivable direction, and thousands sitting in the train stations I passed through. But, again, no panic. By the time I got near my office, folks had already figured out they would be spending the night at their office's, so the convenience stores were packed, and the shelves were already empty. Walked up the six flights to my office, and felt quilty as hell, since I kept a cot there and also some emergency food. Watched CNN and NHK the rest of the night, (and, like others, will never forget the images of the destruction/loss of life) called the relatives back in the states and went to sleep -- but with the TV on, just in case.. And was shocked to see Starbucks operating the next morning as if nothing had happened -- except they had no food. Left Japan about ten days later to clear my head and assure my relatives that I was not glowing, and decided to no longer gamble my well-being on Japan Inc. and permanently left in the early summer. And when I read the almost daily stories of the continued ineptitude of TEPCO and the government I am very thankful I did.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

I went to Narita on March 10th. I flew to the US to see my brother and sister-in-law who was pregnant. Woke up early before 5:30 just to check my e-mail as I had jet lag. Almost shouted when I saw the video of the tsunami with houses on fire floating in the water. My wife had been staying in Osaka. Lots of shaking there too. Flew back on the 16th. I was in Newark, New Jersey. Flying to Japan that day was odd since so many people canceled their flights. I had a whole row to myself. Couldn`t take Narita Express since all services were canceled until further notice, so I had to take a bus to Shinjuku. I remember escalators were off so people had to use the stairs at train stations. Unessential lighting was off. Trains just came when they did, so people had to wait, not knowing when the next train would arrive.

Lines at gas stations in Kanagawa were so long. Empty shelves at supermarkets, especialy for things like milk.

I walked more and read the Daily Yomiuri most days, especially about stories of what was going on in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima.

School was delayed by two weeks but I was glad to be back to work when work started again.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I was in the garden, just got in from a restaurant for lunch when I got a call from a friend of mine wondering if we were okay cuz tsunami may hit our coast. She lived in Kyusyu and I lived in Southern Kyusu so I couldn't understand the reason of her worries.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Had just finished skating with my son in Bandai Atami in Fukushima. My son's skates were off but I had to run out of the arena with my skates on. After that, drove back to our house in Koriyama on the backroads as I figured the main roads would be out or congested. Remember seeing dogs running around by themselves, and all the stone walls toppled over. Got home to find nearly everything breakable in my house broken. Everything on the floor. Spent most of the evening outside as the rumbling would just not stop. Spent a lot of time talking to the neighbours. Spent a sleepness night rattling and rolling. TVs were both broken and had no internet or phone service so did not know about the tsunami until the next morning when I finally got one old tv to work. Water was out but luckily we still had electricity. The next couple of days were spent in complete worry. An endless stream of army helicopters flew over our house day and night. Then heard that the reactors blew up, got my family the hell out of there. Now we live in Hyogo Prefecture. There is so much more, but that is just my brief recollection.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

I was in the states at the time, in the same house, in the same living room where I had watched 9/11 unfold. (My mother's house) So, here I was up late watching a John Lennon movie (about his killer, forgot the name) When my phone started ringing. At first I was screening the calls to finish the movie up until something told me something was up since he kept calling over and over again.

I finally answered and he asked if I'd been watching the news, or if my wife and her family were ok. I flipped the channel to CNN and just couldn't believe what I was watching as my soul almost sunk into the couch. My wife was still in Japan at the time awaiting her VISA, and thankfully was living near Yokohama. Those images shown from that day on CNN will forever be burnt into my mind just like 9/11, and it was eerie how similar witnessing both events were to me. I was very lucky to have nobody I know taken from me on both those days.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I was working at my desk in Sendai. Then my desk started bouncing and everything changed.

My daily life in the months that followed was dominated by a kind of 'fog of war' uncertainty and confusion. Many people are still coming to terms with what happened and we will be living with the effects for many years to come. In hindsight it seems both unreal, and much too real.

I urge you to please take a moment today to remember what happened on that day and to try to wrap your heart/head around the loss and suffering that affected so many.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I was desperate. I'm Italian, but maybe I love Japan more than my country.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I was working at home in central Tokyo when the earthquake hit. I had been in the two large earthquakes in LA back in the 90's, so it wasn't my first experience. I contacted my family in NYC while my building was still shaking, until the phone service cut out. A small tsunami rolled up the Sumida river, leaving the sidewalks covered by an inch of stinking black mud. My father-in-law put the BBC in touch with me via Skype, and I spent the rest of the day and night relaying the news I saw on Japanese TV to a BBC reporter.

Within an hour of the earthquake, I spotted a formation of military helicopters racing north, these were American helicopters, they were dispatched long before the Japanese authorities got around to sending help. I saw them as they flew past the smoke of a burning building in the Toyosu area, and then faded off into the distance.

I watched the steady stream of workers walking past my building on their way home, some walked as long as 6 or 7 hours. The next day I got on my bicycle (after climbing downstairs from my 47th floor apartment) and rode around the city, taking photos of the what damage could be found in Tokyo, the already-empty shelves at the convenience stores, etc, and sending them off.

As the days went by, many of my friends from America and Europe returned to their homes overseas, none ever came back. There were no non-Japanese tourists to be seen at Asakusa or Akihabara. The prime minister at the time bungled around, and odid nothing, which forced the local people to begin the cleanup and revovery themselves.

I told another friend of mine that radioactive iodine had been detected around Fukushima. He was a DOE employee in Los Alamos, and he said matter-of-factly "that means there has been a meltdown at at least one of the reactors". Of course Tepco didn't admit that there had been a meltdown until a couple of months later. I quickly learned that the mainstream news in Japan didn't like to print "sensitive" news without the consent of government or industry, and that the Japanese knew less about what was going on in their country than Americans and Europeans did.

It was all an interesting experience, one which I would just as well not go through again,

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Fear, horrible, sad, solidarity..I cried for over a month each time I saw pics in the tv or anywhere else. It was the first time I felt a union within the Japanese people. It was the first time I felt that I was in the same level as them, inspite of the grief and sadness of that day, I felt that the people around me where more complacent and warm and more feeling...It never occurred to leave the country to escape..I wanted to stay and face the music just with everybody else.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The news broke as I was in the departure lounge waiting for my flight back to Japan. It was numbing. The gate staff were asking everyone if they "really wanted to take the flight"... Three years on, and still so much unresolved.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Nearly getting decapitated by an HP printer as it flew across the room. Being out of contact with in laws (in northern iwate) for more than a week. Finding out how mentally tough my younger son is (he was taking high school entry exams). Watching the waves roll in on NHK TV. My wife getting home about 12 hours later. Making enough curry to last for a week. The hysteria of buying bottled water. Watching the Fukushima situation spiral out of control. The new word in the vocabulary "flyjin" applied to Japanese and foreigners alike. Half of my son's graduating class running away from Tokyo due to the radiation risk. Overseas media paranoia. FoX news in the US finding a nuclear power plant in Shibuya. Going North a couple of days later as a volunteer (trying to find the in laws).

Lots of memories. Please share your ideas.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

In Sasebo, we had just left my husbands fathers funeral when we heard the news. We rushed home and were glued to the TV watching and praying for Japan. The sound from the tsunami warnings across the country is unforgettable to me now. Anytime I hear some type of alert on TV I am always a bit jumpy - just in case we may have to evacuate. The devastation was unimaginable and everything seemed like a bad dream. Poor people!!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

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