A day in Tokyo and reflecting on the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Today is a time for me to unwind and reflect about what happened but also to refresh myself. Yes, unlike the people of Fukushima who reside near the Daiichi nuclear power plant or the untold families which have been torn apart; I am very lucky because I reside in Tokyo and I escaped the nightmare of March 11.
I have been writing daily since March 11 and great attention and emphasis was put on the many different aspects of the crisis which emerged on this fateful day. The last week of April is now upon us but you still have more than 10,000 people missing after the tsunami unleashed such a deadly force upon many coastal areas in northeastern Japan.
However, despite being distant from the epicenter of the earthquake which struck on March 11, I felt the tremors of this earthquake in Tokyo and countless other aftershocks since this fatal day.
I have also sensed the mood in Tokyo and how the ebbs and flows of life can change within seconds. Therefore, I have decided to reflect on past events and to evaluate many things and to express my images and views.
Of all the articles that I have written I must confess that I found it very hard to write about the loss of life of so many children at a single school in Ishinomaki.
My article called Ishinomaki: school re-opens after the loss of 74 of the 108 children but questions remain was very difficult to write without expressing or feeling emotions. I dread to think how their parents, other relatives, and the whole community must be feeling.
I commented in this article that “Many children were taken away by the powerful tsunami which was unleashed after the brutal 9.0-magnitude earthquake. Therefore, so many broken families and communities and the knowledge of children dying is heart wrenching.”
“Obviously every life is precious and age should never enter the equation when thinking about the deaths of around 28,000 people. However, something hits you “deep inside” to think about the loss of life of so many children.”
Therefore, while I know that around 28,000 people have perished because of the tsunami which was unleashed by 9.0 magnitude earthquake; the factuality of what happened to the children and teachers of Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki remains embedded within my heart.
I feel for all family members, relatives, friends, and entire communities, which have suffered throughout coastal areas of northeastern Japan. Their pain and sorrow will be the same but in every devastating tragedy you will have potent images or stories which hit you deep inside.
Given this, the Okawa Elementary School remains firmly embedded and much of this is based on other schools surviving close to this school. However, on this fateful day everything went wrong and their path to safety was prevented because of so many fallen trees and other debris.
This meant that fateful minutes were lost and sadly it appears that they turned around and walked in another direction but this direction was leading them into the pits of death.
Within minutes all hope and joy which had awoken these children on the morning of March 11 was taken away from them because by the afternoon of this day the tsunami would sweep them away and show no mercy.
Today I am trying to relax and refresh myself but with every word written about the Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki; then my feeling of morose returns.
I have the luxury of living in Tokyo and today I have promised to refresh myself and to focus on positivity and to relax.
Therefore, I am going to read many pages of Runaway Horses which was written by Yukio Mishima and search http://snoguchi.exblog.jp/ and look at the many stunning images on this website.
I like photography and the stunning beauty on (http://snoguchi.exblog.jp/) this website is in stark contrast to the images of March 11.
Like most people in Tokyo; now is about daily life, trying to relax and enjoying this beautiful city. However, it appears that moments of joy are fleeting because the impact of March 11 remains strong.
Yet recovery is needed but the path will be very hard, if nigh impossible for people who have lost so much; however, for the lucky ones, like myself, it is vital to re-energize the economy and the power of Tokyo and Japan.
I say this “with a heavy heart” because the nightmare of Okawa Elementary School is not only visible it is within my psyche; time will heal many things but life is precious and time can never heal reality.
However, instead of the darkness and sorrow which is entrenched within the heart at the moment; it is hoped that one day the people of Ishinomaki and northeastern Japan will remember the beauty of the people and children who entered their heart.
Yes, they can never return but the dead are never dead when they stay alive within the heart; life is fragile and the tsunami took away so many but it is important that “death is not the final victory” for people who have lost so much.
However, it is easy to say from a distance and I know I have the luxury to say this.
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