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Japan-Honolulu Earthquake Journal

One Worry at a Time: With resiliency, love and a lot of text messages, a Hawaii family separated during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami picks its way through the aftermath.


(page 3 of 4)

Friday, March 18

The Nuclear Power Plant – 原子力発電所

For the first time, we discussed the unfolding tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The plant is perilously close to Sendai, about 60 miles to the south. That’s only about 10 miles outside the 50-mile evacuation zone the U.S. Embassy is recommending. The U.S. Embassy has arranged for buses to take Americans and their dependents to Tokyo for evacuation and they depart Sendai today. Yasue reiterated that she needs to stay with her mom in Sendai and that, “There is nothing I can do about the plant in Fukushima.”


Saturday, March 19

On, Off  – オン、オフ

Text from Yasue, 10:05 a.m.: Electric is out.

It’s 5 a.m. Sunday morning in Sendai. Every time the electricity goes out, Yasue is left wondering if it is just temporary or if this is her dark reality for days or perhaps weeks to come.


Ian Schumaker has spent a collective year of his life in Japan, visiting his mother's homeland.

Sunday, March 20

Ian Schumaker – イアン・シューメーカー

Scott and Yasue’s son, Ian, discusses the events of the past week:

Sure, I have turned on CNN before and witnessed the destruction of natural disasters in places like Chile and Haiti. I was always struck with sadness, but soon the news moved on and so did I, even though I knew people were in distress. It was completely different when the earthquake and tsunami slammed Sendai. This was my nation, my family, my life. It was nauseating to see these people, family and friends, in such despair.

Since I was 6 months old, I have been regularly visiting Sendai. I would go fishing with my grandpa, practice the Buddhist religion with my grandma, attend a Japanese elementary school and experience the rich Japanese culture with all of my family and friends. One of my fondest memories is going fishing in Shizugawa, a coastal town. I met some great people there with truly wonderful hearts. An elderly man and woman in particular stood out. They told a story of a tsunami when they were younger.

In 1933, an 8.4 earthquake triggered a lethal tsunami. This elderly couple had been just children, but they explained their fear in such detail that it left me with enormous grief. They explained how they had run to the top of their houses and saw houses, buildings, basically the whole town get washed away. This fishing village had nothing. All the fish farms were ruined. The clams at the bottom of the ocean were gone. When I went there last summer, the town was still not the same as it was before 1933.

Now, I see what this most recent tsunami has done. It’s much worse this time. So many sad questions pop into my mind. Can they ever recover? Are the people I met still alive? Can I ever go back and fish there? I sure hope that the answer to all of those questions is yes. I want to take my kids there and fish and share with them the strong, loyal, Japanese pride.


Sunday, March 20

Day 10 – 10日目

Yasue reports on her day:

It is still so cold. I decided I would walk to get a kerosene heater at D2, a home improvement store similar to Home Depot. It would take me about 45 minutes to walk there. On the way, I realized my cellphone battery was nearly drained, so I stopped at a taxi office and they were kind enough to allow me to charge my cellphone. After that, I walked to the store and waited about 30 minutes in line. Inside, the store was still a mess and they said they had not received any new stock. They were selling small items like toilet paper, buckets, paper goods, dry cereal, etc., by the store’s entry.

I bought a large kerosene heater for 10,000 yen (about $120). I started walking with the heavy stove. A gentleman was right behind me on the narrow sidewalk and I paused to let him go first. He offered to help carry the heater. I could not believe it, as his house was the opposite way. At first, we carried it together, but he insisted on carrying it himself. Luckily, after about 10 minutes, I found a taxi and thanked him for his help.

I called Mom at the hospital. The nurses washed the patients’ hair today! Mom said it felt so good after nine days with no bath. I am so thankful for the nurses as their hard jobs were made even harder by first having to heat the water.

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