Japan: quiet contemplation two months after the earthquake and tsunami
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Since the earthquake of March 11 which unleashed the devastating tsunami I often take time out in order to reflect. A few days ago I spent a quiet afternoon in Rikugien Garden in Komagome by myself.
I did the same when I visited Nagoya for hospital treatment. Therefore, I found a quiet garden and just began to read for 30 to 40 minutes and then I reflected on the last few months in Japan.
On March 11 in the afternoon I was walking around Yurakucho and then all of a sudden the earth began to shake and it was so violent. I was not scared or in a daze; however, I knew that this earthquake was potent because the 9.0-magnitude earthquake certainly felt powerful and I have never felt such a force before.
After several hours I heard about the tsunami but I never imagined that the tsunami would sweep away so many people. It was only after a few days that it became clear that the tsunami had killed tens of thousands of people.
Added to this was the radiation factor and many people were scared by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis.
During my visit to Rikugien Garden I sat down and thought about the brave fire fighters of Otsuchi. I remembered that “Fujio Koshida was still sounding the warning bell while the waves were about to engulf him and sweep him away from this world.”
I stated in my article called Fire brigade heroes of Otsuchi who died during the tsunami in Iwate that “Fujio Koshida and all members of this fire brigade, irrespective if they died or survived, did everything in their power to help the people of Otsuchi and for this I take my hat off and bow to all the members of this brave and dedicated fire brigade.”
After thinking about Otsuchi in Iwate prefecture I then strolled around the garden in Komagome and nature seemed more beautiful than usual. After all, I knew that I had been lucky unlike the tens of thousands of people who were killed in Iwate, Fukushima, Miyagi, and other coastal areas in northeast Japan.
I then saw a few children playing and they were so happy. This, however, made me think about Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki and sadness returned to my heart.
The thought of 74 children out of 108 children dying from this single school in Ishinomaki is heartbreaking. This tragedy, and Otsuchi, stays within my memory alongside other images or news stories that appeared in the national and international media.
After this I felt morose once more therefore I continued to walk for 20 minutes but in no clear direction.
I then decided to leave the stunning garden and returned home but my feeling of morose and normality keeps on clashing within my psychological state.
The image of Okawa Elementary School remains potent and I can’t imagine how the parents must feel.
Alas, I know that Japan needs to rebuild and it is essential to kick start the economy but it is difficult to shake off recent events and return to normal.
However, I know that I am lucky because everybody I know resides in Greater Tokyo and Kansai and both areas escaped the ravages of the earthquake and tsunami.
Please visit the above links for more information about both gardens