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Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

The Great Tohoku Disaster - Part 7

Read Part 6 >>

This is a recreation of my personal experiences from the e-mails that I sent to friends in Canada and Japan, TV news reports in Canada, the U.S., and Japan, and from what my wife Akiko told me.


Saturday, March 19

Hi Yuri,

My friend Tomo and his family are in Tokyo now and trying to get to Vancouver. He just bought a house in Sendai in 2010 and has nothing here. His sister is living in Vancouver and will be able to take care of him. We are going to our Russian friends’ house tonight for dinner. They have been very supportive.

Will be in touch, Norm


Hi Tak,

Yes, it is important to laugh too.

I just heard an interesting CBC radio report detailing the issues of the Tokyo Denryoku and how they have a long history of mismanaging the Fukushima power plant. Unfortunately, this does not help the people of Fukushima and the surrounding area right now. Heads will “hopefully” roll after things get settled.

Akiko told me that there is an American ship loaded with relief goods that can’t unload now for the reasons you’ve outlined. What a situation!

The CBC TV reporter is now making his reports from faraway Kyoto for some reason. I still haven’t heard directly from some friends but have been assured that they are fine. Glad to hear that the Osaka gang is fine too.

Anyhow, will keep you up to date with what I hear from here.

All the best and take care, Norm


Hi Norm:

About the CBC TV reporter now making his reports from Kyoto. That’s understandable. Quite a few countries feel unsafe to have their citizens in Tokyo due to a possible nuclear fallout. Several consulates have relocated their offices or have moved in with their Osaka Consulates.

I am not sure what the real chances are of such danger and today, it looks like they have been able to cool down the spent fuel and other equipment that perhaps the danger has decreased somewhat. However, at the moment, I don’t think anyone can say for certain. So each makes their own decisions.

As for relief goods not reaching the evacuees, there is a shortage of gas in the area and they can’t move the transports. Trucks and drivers were also lost. I read that trucks can go, but when they get there they can’t find the gas to return. Countrywide, there are no shortages, but due to many reasons, they are not getting the relief to the right places. What they need is a good field general to take command. Hopefully, that is happening. The problem is becoming more and more obvious daily that everyone by now should realize what is wrong and what has to be done.

I am afraid, we are going to hear a lot more tragic stories as the days go by. Will hope for the best.

(in Osaka)


Hi Norm!

Always good to hear from you.

Had a really good day yesterday with friends in Yoyogi. Tokyo is a completely different planet. I really love this city!! Always did.

We are in Roponngi and will be leaving in a taxi to catch a bus to Narita in about 90 minutes. Will be in touch as I have connection and my laptop.

Best ... Tomo

Have to catch up on the nuke


Hey Lorne, Nice to hear that things are better for you all.

Yes, I love Tokyo and Kyoto, even better....

I guess that you are on your way back to Canada. Let me know when you land, etc. Don’t forget to write about your experience and to take pictures.

The war in Libya is now the dominant news here in Canada. Japan is becoming “yesterday’s news”....

Senji’s e-mail is working now but I don’t expect that he is able to communicate much by mail. Will talk a.s.a.p. and relay news.

All the best to you all, Norm

Sunday, March 20

Hi Tak, I really worry about the Tohoku people in the coastal areas who were hit hardest.

The war in Libya is the main news over here now on CBC TV so the details of what is happening in Japan are even sketchier. Is the government confirming that the fuel rods, etc. are being cooled down? Akiko tells me that the news she is watching is not very forthcoming or clear.

I wonder how the busses that are transporting the evacuees from Sendai are making the trip? I’ve heard about the lack of fuel for trucks to return point as well. Given the circumstances, I wonder why they can’t drive the trucks to deliver the essential relief goods to the areas and worry about getting the trucks back later? Akiko also tells me that the Kan government has still not given the Americans permission to help. I wonder what this is all about? Apparently the Koreans have left the area for fear of the radiation.

Yes, the tragic stories.... we in Canada are starting to do fund raising for the rebuilding effort. I will mobilize my kids this coming week to do something.

Let me know when you are connected to the internet again. Called Senji and he is well. Doing some volunteer work and plans to head to the coast to help. Will keep you posted. Norm

Monday, March 21

Norm: We are near Vancouver in a town near the USA called Whiterock.

I have to be back to start teaching, but I am not sure of the date yet. I hope the situation is better by then. S-kun’s school starts on the 20th. We will feel things out and see what to do. The ticket says the 28th. I may go on ahead and S-kun may miss some school.

I have to sleep, but I am very glad to hear from you.

Were met by my old friends at the airport today. You were there in spirit.

See you on-line soon,



Hey Tomo, Good to hear that you are back.

Yes, I know Whiterock. Home of WP Kinsella, isn’t it?
There is also an Indian restaurant there called “Indian Village” on the strip across from the beach that is run by the Indian dude (I forget what alias he is using now. It used to be “Yamaguchi” in Japan) who used to operate Bukara Indian restaurant in Sendai. You should visit him and tell him that I sent you.

Yes, I heard that school starts in Sendai today (21st) from my niece there.
Talked with Senji last night. Seems that the city of Sendai is not in “bad” shape given everything. He’s closed down his salon and is volunteering to do some relief work on the coast. Will call again and update you later.

Send me a phone number so I can call you.
Sounds like Kawaramachi is slowly coming back to life.
Is anybody taking care of the house? Akiko has read about looting in Sendai.
Stay in touch, Norm

Tuesday, March 22

Hi Shogo, How are you and your family?
Where are you living? Akiko and I hope that you are all well.


Minami-soma, Fukuoka. Photo courtesy of Shogo Horiuchi

Hi Norm and Akiko! I am not so bad. my family and me are living in brother’s house (Minami-Somacity) now .
The Fukushima nuclear plant is gradually better day by day. but dangerous situation.
ThanK you for your mail.

These picture are our home and ??? (reverse)
Big surprise !!!


Hi Shogo, Terrible pictures. I am so happy that you are all okay. Do you have food and water? Norm


Some store start to run. All OK.
Thank you for your kindness.


Most Canadian Nikkei people are sending money to the Red Cross. Is this the best group?
Is the Red Cross in Minami-Soma?
Please take care, my friend, Norm and Akiko


Maybe Red Cross is called Sekijyuji in Japan.
It is famous international group. I do not know whether it is in our city? The Red Cross is all over Japan.



Shogo, Hang in there, my friend. Akiko is going to be in Sendai at the end of May. We still hear about a lot of problems in Fukushima at the nuclear power plant in the news here.
We are having a bake sale to raise money for the Red Cross in Japan this week.
Stay safe, Shogo. Norm


Hi Norm:
How sad to see what’s left of your friend’s house. What a pity and yet, he wrote you, “I am not so bad, my family and me are living in brother’s house.”
Here is really some guy. With people like him, the populace in the Tohoku region are going to get over this no matter what. I have also seen reports in the papers about the fortitude of others in the area and I have the greatest admiration for them. They deserve a better fate than what is facing them so far. I certainly hope things will improve quickly for them.
Take care,


Part 8 >>

Minami-soma, Fukuoka. Photo courtesy of Shogo Horiuchi

Minami-soma, Fukuoka. Photo courtesy of Shogo Horiuchi

© 2011 Norm Ibuki

Canada disaster earthquake Japan JPquake2011 sendai

About this series

In Japanese, kizuna means strong emotional bonds.

This series shares stories about Nikkei individual and/or community reaction and perspectives on the Great Tohoku Kanto earthquake on March 11, 2011 and the resulting tsunami and other impacts—either about supporting relief efforts or how what has happened has affected them and their feeling of connection to Japan.

If you would like to share your reactions, please see the “Submit an Article” page for general submission guidelines. We welcome submissions in English, Japanese, Spanish, and/or Portuguese, and are seeking diverse stories from around the world.

We hope that these stories bring some comfort to those affected in Japan and around the world, and that this will become like a time capsule of responses and perspectives from our global Nima-kai community for the future.

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There are many organizations and relief funds established around the world providing support for Japan. Follow us on Twitter @discovernikkei for info on Nikkei relief efforts, or check the Events section. If you’re posting a Japan relief fundraising event, please add the tag “JPquake2011” to make it appear on the list of earthquake relief events.