Gaijin Gunpla

It’s March 11, 2021.

Ten years since the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged the Touhoku region of Japan.

And ten years since my experiences of that same event which still remain with me in some way.

It’s a grim anniversary. Made grimmer for the many who still remain without a permanent home or for the residents of villages that are still rebuilding from that tragedy. The scars of that day will be visible for a very, very long time.

A recent article talks about the ‘scars that remain’ and it is easy to understand why that is. For example, this photo.

How do you move a cargo ship that was left inland by a giant wave? The complexity, cost, and time involved are significant. And so those types of reminders of that day are found all throughout the Touhoku coastline.

Despite time continuing to march on things won’t change easily for those most affected. Five years ago, five years after the event, I wrote about the Kaze no Denwa (the phone of the wind). Five years have passed since that fifth anniversary and people are still using the Kaze no Denwa to speak to those they lost. For those people time won’t let them leave the event behind.

For me?

Well, in a way I have left it behind. To be more accurate, I have left Japan behind. I live on a different continent in a different hemisphere (same time zone pretty much, though) and am not affected by hardships the tragedy brought about. I feel a little guilty about that. Japan was pretty good to me for the twelve years I lived there. But I left. The decision to leave didn’t have to do with natural disasters or anything like that. That decision revolved around what was best for my young family and economic opportunities.

However, having said that, it is nice to go to bed at night and not have to have that worry, or fear, in the back of your mind that your house may come down on top of you. Now, I’m awoken in the middle of the night by young children needing the toilet or glass of water. I can rest easy.

And even resting easy makes me feel a little guilty. I had a chance to leave behind the events of those days and I took it. Thousands of others who also were affected, most worse than myself, can or will not.

Japan is a big part of who I am now and there are so many things there that are still important to me. I have family there. I have my martial arts teacher there. ASM is there. Old co-workers and friends. Yet, I hesitate if I’m asked if I’ll ever consider going back.

Over here, when people ask me about my time in Japan I can talk for a good length of time, telling all kinds of interesting stories. But if they ask me about the events of March 11, 2011 I go silent, those feelings come rushing back, and the conversation is hard to continue.

I left Japan physically, but March 11 has stayed with me emotionally.

And so today at 2:46 pm, Japan Time, I’ll have a moment of silence to myself and hope that for all those in Japan and Touhoku, who are likely doing the same, we can remember what we were and be hopeful about what we can become.

Ten years is a long time. It’s okay if you need a little more.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Chris says:

    I can’t believe its been ten years. I remember being in fourth grade, in class watching the news and seeing video of the destruction. If you haven’t seen them, there are some mini documentaries y a youtuber “Abroad in Japan” that explore what it is like for those affected by the disaster.

  2. Busterbeam says:

    The last time I saw you and ASM was about 2 months before this and Osaka. After I remember we did a PG Strike Freedom group build and it will always remind me of this event because of your contribution. This event happened about a month after I returned to Canada after living in Japan for 8 years. I had visited Fukushima before and have great memories of the place. It saddens me to think about what happened then and how much longer the recovery will take. Although we have both left our adopted countries now, a lot of Japan will still live on on us. I think it’s only right that we still feel some connection to this event. It’s hard to see sometimes but also witnessing the enduring hope and resilience has been very inspiring. Glad to hear you’ve been doing well! Stay safe!

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