Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ano hi

Today is a day for remembering, “Ano hi”, that day. Along the tsunami-battered northeastern coast, in Tokyo and elsewhere, memorial ceremonies were planned to mark 2:46 pm, the precise moment the magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit on March 11, 2011. One year ago I was in Beijing with the school's MUN team. I was on my way back to my hotel when I got a text from Aya that there had been an earthquake in Japan. I though, so what, Japan is earthquake central. I turned on my tv as soon as I got back and expected to see little if any coverage, but what I saw was a writhing black monster sweeping across Tohuku farmland, picking up houses and cars like they were toys and smashing them to bits and I cried and yelled at the tv before calling Aya and getting on to FB to try and contact friends and family. Now, one year on, Japan is still recovering. I saw it this past summer when I went back to volunteer and I see it still in the articles and news programs I read and watch. Hundreds of thousands left displaced or homeless, tens of thousands dead or missing. For some people, there will never be closure. I remember that while I was standing in Narita airport waiting to come back to Shanghai, I read an article in GQ that I will never forget. It told the story of parents of children who had died, one of which was deeply sad. A mother whose child had been found among the debris was trying to clean the black slime of the tsunami from her daughter and licked the sludge from her eyes. Many of the stories I read were equally, deeply, personal. Despite a triple disaster that would have crippled the determination of other strong nations, Japan marches on. The people move as one. They are selfless and hard working, willing to endure and hoping for the future.