Nine Years

Nine years have passed since the Great Tōhoku Earthquake shook half of Japan and triggered a tsunami that wiped costal cities off the map while claiming the lives of thousands. In this time a great deal of rebuilding has taken place and people have moved on with their lives; some with far more success than others. Reiko, Nozomi, and I were quite fortunate that we were largely unaffected, though Nozomi did have some pretty serious eating problems until mid-way through the following year due to stress and anxiety. Every large truck driving by would result in our apartment shaking, which would freeze the puppy1 in her tracks. Getting her to eat was a trial of patience, though she did pull through. Moving back to the Tokai region of the country went a long way to helping all three of us calm down and relax.

Moving back is something that I am quite grateful for. Reiko was not happy very often while we lived in Kashiwa, as I was gone most of the day to work in central Tokyo while she was at home in a largely unfamiliar city. We moved to the Tokyo area because I had accepted a job at a tech startup. It paid quite well and there was so much that I learned while solving the problems of the day, but what value is this when your wife is unhappy? Sometimes I joke that the only reason we moved to the Tokyo area was because fate demanded we bring Nozomi into the family. Other times it doesn't seem like a joke at all.

The quake did leave some lasting marks, though. My mind continues to conjure up tremors that don't exist. Both Reiko and I are careful to keep our emergency preparedness packs ready and properly stocked with dry food, clothing, and various supplies. We also have several external batteries for our devices in the event we cannot charge them for extended periods. The car never has less than a quarter tank of gas, either. If something happens, we can leave the house and drive at least 100km to safety with just a moment's notice. This is something that I never would have done in Canada despite living through the Great Ice Storm of '98.

Yet, all in all, life has drastically improved in the nine years since. Reiko and Nozomi are both healthier. The boy has come along to provide a great deal of entropy to our lives. We no longer live with just a couple of months' worth of savings in the bank. We have a house in a safe neighbourhood that sits 120m above sea level and 30km from the nearest beach. The 3/11 Earthquake was a time of crisis, but we're in a better position as a result of getting through it. Again, I am grateful.

The gratitude I feel is not for the quake, of course, but for how Reiko and I responded, overcoming the challenges and accepting opportunities that were different from what we might have desired in order to regain some semblance of stability. When we had that platform by the middle of the following year, we worked towards the goals that have led us here to where we are today. It wasn't easy. It wasn't always positive. It was educational, though.


  1. She was actually a puppy back then.