Friday, March 25, 2011

Part 3. The hard times, gratefulness, and hopes

Bringing our bags and a blanket, we left the house and headed to the evacuation site at the school. It was a school gymnasium and quite big too (that night there were about 600 people in the room). There were volunteers were assembling two portable toilets outside when we arrived. We entered the room and together with other people who just arrived we registered our names and home address. There were mattresses arranged in 4 large groups with a kerosene heater placed in the center of each group. I really thought this was very impressive. It was just like 3 hours after the quake and volunteers were already working at the evacuation sites.
There were not many people that time and the room looked quite spacious, so it was easy to find a place for us. But more and more people came in leaving almost no space at all in the room. The mattresses were very limited in numbers, so everyone has to share in every possible way. The volunteers also distributed blankets and cartons to those who don`t get the mattresses. 

Dinner time. The volunteers told us that they have onigiri (Japanese rice balls) and water, but they wouldn`t be enough for everyone, so only children and the elderly were prioritized. The instruction for us during distribution was: Raise your hand if you really need food and water. To my astonishment, only few people raised their hands although I was sure everyone must have been hungry that night. I saw some people brought their own food like us, but many of them didn`t. Anyway, we ate our oatmeal and drank a little water to help swallowing it. Not a proper dinner, but much better than nothing.
It seemed like no one slept well that night. Phone connection, electricity, water, and gas were disrupted. The aftershock kept coming like in every 10-30 minutes that night and people looked very alarmed. There were many poor crying babies here and there with their exhausted parents. But to our surprise, we felt far safer staying with all of them that night. 
Then, the next morning some newspapers were delivered to our place. We finally knew what`s just happened the day before. The pictures of how tsunami has wiped out the whole  coastal areas and news on thousands of people missing left us speechless. Knowing all these things, I was deeply grateful for having my husband, our house, food, healthiness, jobs, and many things else despite the disaster. Yet I felt terribly sorry for those who lost everything. The pictures of messiness in our house I showed you before are nothing, NOTHING compared to all those tragedies. I was so ungrateful for feeling bad about our house. It was just messy, that`s all.

Anyway, that morning we decided to take a walk outside (wearing our helmets) and we`re lucky enough to get some dried fruits from nearby shop.

And we got some snacks and drinks too! 


And even ice creams on the third day! Miracle!

Day after day, there were more food and fruits for everyone in the site.

Sometimes there were emergency supplies sent from other prefectures/regions in Japan. One of them was instant rice with dried vegetables and chicken. Just pour hot water into the packet and the rice will be ready in 10 minutes. Warm food was a very special treat that time. Yum!

And on the 2nd day we got to eat the wakame onigiri (rice balls with wakame seaweed).  The best onigiri we ever had. Probably because we were very hungry, but still, this is the best.

We stayed in the evacuation for 7 days and here are other things we thought impressive and interesting:

Newspapers were delivered everyday regardless the condition and we had a TV in the room on the next day. News are what we really need during that kind of time. 

Many students (at our place, most were junior high) came to help as volunteers. 

Every morning around 6:30, we had an exercise (here is called “rajio taiso”, or radio gymnastic exercise) following an instructor standing in the center of the gym with music played on the tape. It was a real fun and refreshing. Waking up at that kind of hour doing exercise wasn`t my thing at all, but I did enjoy it a lot!

There were interesting views too in the city:
Lining up has always been a culture here. Even in this kind of emergency situation. When some shops were open, people still lined up.

People here are trying hard to do what they can do regardless the difficulties. The fresh market in our was already open just a week after the big quake, although the amount and choices of food were limited. Looking at those food really made my day!

Not only in the market, the shopping area is turning into a temporary "fresh market" now with people selling many kinds of food, like fish, eggs, meat, vegetables, and even bentou.

And I`d like to share these maccha (green tea) choco doughnuts with you. From us with love.

We`re very thankful to those of you who has been worried about us here, but really, we`re fine. It was indeed a difficult time, but we`re very glad with  where we are and what we have now. The experience itself has enriched us with more new perspectives and gratefulness.  

Thanks for bearing with our life stories and please keep supporting and encouraging the people. The daily aftershocks, the damaged areas with food shortage, thousands of missing people, and the battle with the nuclear issues are what Japan is facing now, but I hope the courage will stay strong, more and more help to come, and things will go uphill eventually.

Hope to be back soon with fun cooking stories in my coming posts!


  1. This is amazing, thank you for sharing your story. Good to hear that you and your family is doing well. So sorry for those that are not. I wish I could fly over there and help.

    Thanks for the dougnuts, they were good! :D

  2. thanks for sharing. i hope japan will be able to recover again soon.

  3. Thanks for keep sharing your story. Seeing how Japan copes with this devastating tragedy evokes nothing but respect. Sending you and everyone lots of love and prayers.

  4. This was such a moving and amazing post...thank you so much for sharing your deeply aware and observant point of view, and joy and appreciation of life (and food--most amazing donuts I've ever seen)!

    Honored to be your friend across the ocean (and internet), hugs and best wishes!