Posted by: nickgardham | April 13, 2011

Life in Sendai

Many thanks to Christine Fisher who shared this story with us from Japan. Like Christine, I too feel it captures what we are trying to achieve.

Life in Sendai Mail from a Japanese woman survivor

Received end of March 2011

Life in Sendaï these days is rather surreal. But I am fortunate to be surrounded by friends who are hugely helpful. In fact I have sought refuge in their home as my own run-down little shack is now fully worthy of that name.

We share everything: water, food, and a rescue solid fuel heating. At night, we all sleep in the same room; we have a “candlelit dinner” and swap stories. It is very beautiful and heart warming. In the daytime, we try to clean out the mud and debris from our houses.

People queue for water as soon as a supply point opens, or they stay in their cars, watching the news on their GPS.

When water is reconnected to someone’s house, the owner puts up a notice so that others can benefit.

What is amazing is that there is no stampede, no rush, no looting, although people leave their doors wide open, as one is advised to do during earthquakes. Everywhere you hear people saying: ”Oh, it is like the good old days, when everyone helped one another.”

Earth tremors are continuing. Last night, we had one every quarter of an hour. The howling of sirens was unceasing, as well as the buzzing of helicopters above our heads.

Yesterday evening, water was reconnected for a few hours, as it was today for half the day. We even had a bit of electricity this afternoon. No gas yet. Improvements vary from one district to another. Some have water but no electricity, in others it is the other way round.

Nobody has washed for days. We are dirty, but it matters little.

I like this new feeling, this disappearance and stripping of all that is superfluous, inessential. We live fully, intuitively, instinctively, sharing warmth, and surviving not as individuals but as a whole community.

Different worlds rub shoulders in strange ways: next to a devastated dwelling you find a house intact with its futons and washing drying in the sun; here you see people queuing endlessly for food or water, while others just walk their dogs.

There are also touches of great beauty: first, the silent night. No cars. Nobody in the streets. But a sky sparkling with stars. Usually I can only make out one or two. The mountains surrounding Sendaï are darkly silhouetted against the sky, beautiful in the cool night air.

The Japanese also are wonderful: every day I go to what is left of my house, like today when I am taking advantage of the returned electricity to send this mail, and every day I find new provisions and water on my doorstep. Who put them there? I have no idea.

Elderly gentlemen in green caps go from house to house to make sure that everyone is okay. Everyone asks you if you need help. Nowhere do I see any signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but no fear or panic.

However more earthquakes are announced, maybe even some major ones during the following months. And we feel the ground shaking, rolling, rumbling.

I am fortunate to live in a district in the higher part of Sendaï, which is a little more solid, and until now we have been relatively spared.

Yesterday evening, another blessing: a friend’s husband brought me food and water from the country.

Through this whole experience I have understood that everywhere in the world a cosmic change is happening. And my heart opens more and more.

My brother asked me if what has happened has made me feel small and insignificant. Not at all! Quite the reverse, I feel that I am part of something much greater than myself.

This world re-birth is hard, but wonderful!



  1. This story is inspiring! It makes you realise how much gets taken for granted and how in the most desperate situations the most amazing things can happen.

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