Remembering 3/11

Much thanks to Tony, Katie, and Danielle, who provided us three wonderful articles this week about 3/11:

Our thoughts are with Japan and those whose lives were lost or affected by the 3/11/11 disaster.

At the time, I was visiting UC Berkeley for a visitor’s day for prospective PhDs. I was woken up at 4am by a series of texts from my friends and family on the east coast asking if my host family was okay and if I knew about the huge earthquake that just hit Japan. I half-consciously texted back that earthquakes happen there all the time and I was sure they were fine and went back to sleep. It wasn’t until morning that I found out just how devastating the earthquake had been.

Unfortunately, the university events started early that day, and I didn’t have any time to get to a TV or a computer no matter how badly I wanted to. I spent from 7am to 8pm wondering about my friends and host family, wanting desperately to get to a television. It wasn’t until I made it to the airport that I finally saw footage and realized just how horrible the event had been. I stood teary-eyed among strangers in an airport terminal, watching loops of panicked news reports about radiation and stranded locals. Luckily, I found out that my host family was just fine. But even though they were far from the disaster zone, my host father had been trapped for hours on a shinkansen (bullet train) returning to Tokyo that had shut down, and my host mother was trapped on one of the stopped subways for just as long. 3/11 was frightening from afar for everyone.

Where were you on 3/11?

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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2 Responses to Remembering 3/11

  1. Pingback: March 11 « 茶有の者 – A Man with Tea

  2. Ai-Lin says:

    On 3-11 I was in Kobe, Japan. I didn’t have many lessons to teach (I was a NET for AEON*Amity) so I was walking around the neighborhood handing out flyers for the school. I didn’t feel anything when the earthquake happened, but my friend who was a teacher in Kustasu (Shiga Prefecture) at the time texted me right away and said “Woa, did you feel that? I think a big one hit somewhere!” I didn’t know what it was about so I texted her back and said I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t think about it again until I got back to my apartment and saw the barrage of e-mails and messages on Facebook from family and friends wondering if I was ok. Suddenly, I remembered my friend’s text and turned on the tv. It was pretty frightening seeing what was happening live – and I couldn’t believe that it was happening. It was just so strange that life could go on almost completely normally in my part of Japan. I let everyone know that I was fine and luckily my friends and other people I knew in Tohoku were also fine. It’s been a year, but there are still many wounds yet to be healed. All the people still struggling in Tohoku are in my thoughts.

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