Revitalization in Fukushima
We have compiled a list of interviews of foreign residents published in “United We Stand Fukushima” (GYRO magazine’s disaster recovery issue) and in “Fukushima NOW”.
※People’s places of residence indicated in this list was recorded at the time of the interview.
No.97above, please click here.
No.96 Yapaka Tiranun (From Thailand, Living in Fukushima City／Interviewed February,2018)
I came to Japan when I married at the age of 25. I lived in Nagano Prefecture for 5 years, then moved to Fukushima Prefecture, where I currently live. During the Great East Japan Earthquake, I had the day off from work, so I was enjoying my time shopping. Right when I was thinking about heading home and getting into my car, the shaking started. Afterwards, the nuclear accident occurred, but I decided to stay in the prefecture. Apparently the Embassy of Thailand secured a Thai Temple in Chiba as an evacuation centre, and was paying one-way plane tickets to Thailand for those wanting to leave. I’ve been interpreting and translating for at the Fukushima Prefectural government since last May. I contact Thai people through the LINE app, and use the Facebook page “Welove Fukushima” to promote tourism in Fukushima Prefecture. When it comes to interpreting I struggle with Japanese keigo, or polite language, but believe the challenge is worth the effort. I enjoy studying, and dealing with people and language, so I believe my current job suits me quite well. The people around me are kind, and I feel as though I am surrounded by family. In my teen years in Thailand, my family had a calendar that displayed kimonos, and I remember thinking “how beautiful” and feeling deep admiration. At the time, I did not know that kimono came from Japan. As I grew older I forgot that admiration, but when I arrived in Japan and saw kimonos once more, I was suddenly reminded of those forgotten feelings. Thinking back on it now, I believe that I must have always had a connection to Japan. There’s beauty everywhere in Fukushima. In the springtime you can enjoy various types of flowers. The Nicchu Line in Kitakata which boasts the beautiful Shidare Zakura (Prunus spachiana) which can be seen from the Tadami River’s first bridge, and Jupia-land in Hirata-mura, which is home to the Shiba Zakura (Phlox subulata) are my recommendations. I hope that many people visit this year.
No.95 Francis Amimo Okoti (From Kenya, Living in Nihonmatsu City／Interviewed February,2018)
In 2007, while I was working as a fitness instructor in Nairobi, I met my wife who was dispatched by JICA, and came to Nihonmatsu. I’ve been an English instructor at the JICA Nihonmatsu Training grounds since March, of 2012. My image of Japan before arriving in the country was limited to Seiko brand watches, Toyota brand cars, and Canon brand cameras. Upon arriving, I was shocked at how advanced it was. From bullet trains to skyscrapers, brand new cars to beautiful towns with advanced toilets, from readily available fresh fruits and vegetables, to people dressed in proper uniforms and going to work. All of these things were completely outside of my expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised by such wonders. During the Great East Japan Earthquake I was by myself in my apartment. We hardly ever experience earthquakes in Kenya, so I was very surprised and practically flew out of my apartment. The building in front of my eyes was swaying so vigorously that I thought it would crumble. Once the shaking quieted down, I went back into the apartment to get my passport, money, and warm clothes before leaving once more. Thinking the earthquake had ended, I returned to my room, but the emergency earthquake alert rang again, and I ran outside, repeating this over and over. Afterwards, I was shocked to see videos of the tsunami and asked my neighbor if the tsunami would reach Nihonmatsu. Reassured that it would not, I was able to calm my heart. After the earthquake I put my passport, some peanuts, warm clothes, and money in a bag to be equipped for the worst, which lasted about a month. Once the nuclear accident occurred, I thought about evacuating outside the prefecture, but I believed in the Japanese government that said it was safe, and in the skills of the Japanese people, and remained in the prefecture. Fukushima is a calm and wonderful place. The roads are uncongested, rent is not too high, and fruits and vegetables are always fresh. I recently heard that a shopping mall has been built in the formerly evacuated zone of Namie-machi, and I hope to have a look myself someday soon.
No.94 Jennifer Bishop (living in Date City, From America／Interviewed November,2017)
In February 2017 I began working as a Coordinator for International Relations in Date City. Four years ago I came to Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher. I studied Japanese in high school, I was both surprised and attracted to the indirect expressions in Japanese, and from that point on, took an avid interest in the Japanese language. Possibly influenced by the fact that the ninety percent of the classmates in my surrounding environment were of foreign origin, I began to think that I, too, would like to live in another country. I heard about the nuclear accident from the news, but after looking at the available information, decided that it would be safe here. Fukushima’s mountains are incredibly beautiful. I very much enjoy mountain climbing. At work, I have guided foreign residents up Mount Ryozen. I’ve climbed 30 mountains in Fukushima Prefecture thus far. My favourite mountains are Mount Ryozen and Megamiyama. Next year I’d like to climb Mount Iide. I study Japanese by reading books and watching dramas. At the moment, I quite enjoy watching “Midnight Diner”. At work I enjoy interacting with the locals. I also teach English and sing songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with preschool and kindergarten aged children. I think that being able to experience foreign languages at a young age is incredibly important. Seeing the smiles of the children is something I look forward to.
No.93 Pham Van Thanh(living in Aizu-Wakamatsu City, From Vietnam／Interviewed November,2017)
I’m currently studying light-wave communications at The University of Aizu. I came to Japan in the third year of my undergraduate program. I am now in the second year of my doctorate, and have been in Japan for six years. I began studying Japanese in Vietnam, and in September 2011 I was told by my university that my admission to the University of Aizu had been decided and I would go to Fukushima the following April. Before I started my study abroad, I got in contact with a Vietnamese professor at the University of Aizu, and I gathered information on the effects of radiation from the nuclear accident on Fukushima prefecture. At that time in Vietnam, the story of Fukushima’s nuclear accident was on the news every day. My parents were worried and did not want me to study in Japan, but after speaking directly contact with the Vietnamese professor, my parents approved my decision to study abroad. I do research every day from morning until about 10pm at night. Once a week, I work as an assistant teacher, helping out with classes at the university. On the weekends, I enjoy playing volleyball and soccer with other study abroad students. In the future, I’d like to get the JLPT N1 certificate, and to be employed by a Japanese research institute. For that reason I am currently attending the Aizu-Wakamatsu City International Association Japanese classes. Aizu has cherry blossoms, autumn colours, and snow, all of which is a natural beauty that doesn’t exist in Vietnam. I’d like to show Aizu in every season to my parents while I’m here. The message I’d like to convey to everyone would be that “I am doing well along with the people of Fukushima, and we’re all leading completely normal lives here.”
No.92 Christina Iwasawa(From the Philippines, living in Shirakawa／Interviewed August,2017)
After arriving in Japan, I lived in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Gunma for a bit, among other places, but I’ve been living in Shirakawa City for about 10 years now. Compared to the Philippines, everyday life in Japan is much safer. I also believe there’s a proper system in place for women to work safely. Therefore, no matter where I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve never had a negative image of the country or the places I stayed in. At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake I did not have any appropriate information gathering tools, therefore getting necessary information, like those sent from the embassy, was extremely difficult, and I often found out about them afterwards. Due to this experience, I have taken to using a smartphone in my everyday life, which has been particularly helpful in keeping up with my friends and countrymen. By maintaining communication every day, we can help each other when we’re feeling troubled. Since I have been living in Japan for a long time, I am quite independent. However, when it comes to messages from my children’s schools or documents sent from the city hall, the Japanese is quite difficult and I have a hard time understanding it. I am also concerned about what will happen when I become one of the growing elderly. As far as pension and caregiving, there are many points I cannot understand. I believe that there are many foreign residents living in Japan, who think the same way I do. If there was an opportunity where people like me could learn about growing old in Japan, I would definitely like to participate.
No.91 Sonia Naomi Arai(From Brazil, Living in Aizu-Wakamatsu／Interviewed August,2017)
I arrived in the spring as the prefecture sponsored exchange student and I currently study at Aizu University. My great-grandparents were originally from Fukushima which led to my participation in many events run by the Fukushima Kenjinkai. I’ve always wanted to visit my roots and study abroad in Japan and now I am living it. When I arrived, the cherry blossoms in Aizu were in full bloom, and I became enamored with their beauty. In Brazil we received information on the Great East Japan Earthquake from various sources. I specifically looked for Information on the effects of radiation on health, and whether or Not it inhibited daily life. I patiently waited for official reports from organizations that specialized in these particular categories of health and radiation. In Sao Paulo, we do not have any natural disasters such as torrential downpours, typhoons, or snow storms, so I have been unable to imagine what to do in times of emergency, but now I’ve begun to consider what actions to take in an emergency. Other than leading a typical university life, I participate in prefectural and intercultural exchange events. I’ve also visited Fukushima’s famous tourist spots, and seen that every day Fukushima is prosperous and full of life. My path to school boasts Mt. Bandai as a backdrop together with the rice fields, and I take every opportunity to photograph this beautiful landscape. I’m planning on conveying the beauty of Aizu’s nature and scenery by taking daily pictures of the change from preparing the rice fields to planting the rice, and finally to reaping the rice and creating a time lapse to show everyone.
No.90 Mercedez Clewis(Fukushima City Resident, from America／Interviewed February,2017)
In the summer of 2016, I came to Japan to work as an ALT here in Fukushima City. The day I arrived, ready to start my new life, I experienced a relatively big earthquake, which was the start of my uneasiness. There were so many differences between Japan and where I grew up in the south of America, that I was quite shocked, especially when I got on the wrong bus to work. However, I was starting a new life in a new land, so it seemed obvious to me that there would be some sense of discomfort at first. Nowadays, I’ve become used to that discomfort, and life has become much more fun. I actively participate in international events and Japanese cultural events where I can, and I’m having fun finding out about all sorts of things that I didn’t know about before. Above all else, Fukushima’s food really suits my tastes, so I’m able to take energy and comfort in that. I particularly love the fruits, like peaches and pears, which bring me happiness. I’ve been telling friends from other prefectures and my friends and family back home just how large, sweet, and juicy Fukushima fruits are. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, Fukushima has continued to have a negative image with many misunderstandings among foreigners. This translates to their agricultural goods as well. When I came to Fukushima, I realized that all that I heard was not completely true. I will be attending an upcoming study tour that will visit various parts of the prefecture, so I hope to thoroughly learn about Fukushima’s reconstruction efforts.
No.89 Josefina Kudo(Koriyama City Resident, from the Philippines／Interviewed February,2017)
I’ve been living in Koriyama City for 27 years now. I’ve lived in Japan longer than I have in my home country, so it can be said that my feelings and way of thinking are closer to those of Japanese people. I’m able to live my daily life without any real difficulties, but I was quite shaken by the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred 6 years ago. Fortunately, Koriyama City did not suffer any major damage, and we were able to return to life as usual rather quickly. However, after learning that many people were sent to live in temporary evacuation shelters in Koriyama, I was unable to think of them as unrelated to myself, and I began volunteering with my church. There are many foreigners who attend our church, such as those from Vietnam and America, not just from the Philippines. During events such as Easter and Christmas, foreigners gather from other parts of Fukushima to celebrate in Koriyama. The people that come to our church think of me as an older sister or motherly existence, and often consult with me on life in Japan and how to communicate with their families. Likewise, I find that I am able to relieve much of my stress by talking about silly things in my mother tongue. When we have a place to meet up, after everyone has gotten closer, we realize that we don’t have to worry alone. On those days, everyone exchanges contact information and continues to keep in contact afterwards.
No.88 Ben Sreynich(Fukushima City Resident, from Cambodia／Interviewed November,2016)
I have been living in Fukushima since 2004 when I first arrived in Japan. On my honeymoon to Thailand, I became fascinated with traditional massages, and afterwards, I went back to study and eventually receive special certification as a masseuse. I’ve been working at a massage parlor in Fukushima for about 3 years, and have opened my own store. Making use of my experiences and abilities, I thought that perhaps I could alleviate some of the stress and anxieties that came with the disaster. My work is always one-on-one, so communication with the customer is imperative to my work, and I believe there is great worth in meeting and supporting the needs of the customer. While I am unhindered by everyday Japanese, my children have started going to school, so I would like to know more Japanese related to school, and also other expressions that I can use or would be necessary for me to understand at work. Therefore, I began attending Japanese classes again last year. I want to learn Japanese to support the various aspects of my life. Recently, there are many natural disasters in Japan, so I start worrying when I watch the news. However, when I look back on my time growing up in Cambodia, we also endured a tragic event. By comparison, Japan is a country where the laws are well protected, and security is taken very seriously. When I think back
No.87 Zoe Vincent(Fukushima City Resident, from U.K.／Interviewed November,2016)
I began working at the Fukushima Prefecture Tourism & Local Products Association this past August. Up until July, I was working as an ALT in Unzen city in Nagasaki Prefecture for the past year, fully experiencing the Kumamoto earthquake in April. Unzen city, where I lived, also experienced strong shakes. With this experience, my awareness of the fact that natural disasters can happen anywhere in Japan was more strongly cemented. After moving to Fukushima, the first things I did was confirm where to evacuate to, and prepare an emergency bag. I am currently working to introduce various tourist spots in Fukushima while also supporting business activities regarding the prefecture at overseas events. I think that Fukushima is a place abundant in nature, coexisting with a long history and a recent flair for the metropolitan, which I find fascinating. Through my work I’m able to meet people from all walks of life. I believe that because I live here, I can make use of these experiences and show the world the unknown wonders of Fukushima, along with how much the reconstruction effort has progressed. ●Rediscover Fukushima URL：https://rediscoverfukushima.com/
No.86 Pahmi Ismail(Fukushima City Resident, from Indonesia／Interviewed August,2016)
In the summer of 2014, I came to Fukushima to do a technical skills internship. Being mostly unable to understand Japanese, and with limited knowledge on the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear disaster, my countryman who was living in Chiba was worried for me, and told me about a Japanese Language Class that I could commute to. I went almost every week, and was eventually able to hold everyday conversations with ease. Being in Japan, I become more aware of natural disasters such earthquakes and heavy wind and rain. There were students from various countries in my class,so in order to introduce my country’s culture and customs, I researched and learned new things about my own country. In Fukushima Prefecture there is a group created by those with Indonesian roots called “Communitas Fukushima Indonesia”, and this year I began working as the leader. The members meet regularly, hold dinner parties, take trips together, and participate in events all over the prefecture. With the cooperation of the FIA, we also hold sessions on things such as how to divide garbage, which is very helpful to us. By actively participating in and gaining interest in life in Japan, I was able to broaden my possibilities. I would like to consider a future job in which I can be connected to both Fukushima and Indonesia, while maintaing my self-challenging attitude.
No.85 Tatsuhou Sai(Fukushima City Resident, from China／Interviewed August,2016)
I came to Japan in 1999, after whichI traveled between China and Japan. Last autumn I settled in FukushimaCity, where my two sons began attending elementary and middle school. At first I worried about whether they would be able to fit in at school,but thanks to the friendly support of those around us, they are cheerfully attending school. While considering the future, I decided I would like my sons to attend high school in Japan, so first we must prioritize their Japanese studies. This past June I participated in an overnight gathering known as“Multicultural Kids Camp” for children with foreign roots and their guardians. My sons seemed to have a lot of fun, and I was able to speak with organizers and other parents/guardians about school lives and career paths. Also, while I am normally unable to speak with other foreign residents, from China and other countries, with this opportunity I felt the importance and necessity of sharing information. There is a fear that natural disasters can occur at any time, and in any place. If a natural disaster were to happen, I would endeavor to maintain my usual state of mind, and proceed without panicking.
No.84 Kathryn Goto (Osaka Resident, Fukushima Resident at time of Disaster. From the Philippines／Interviewed February,2016)
Right after the earthquake, I began receiving an onslaught of inquiries to my cellphone from Filipino residents all over the prefecture. I relayed information on buses and flights for evacuation. At the time, things were incredibly difficult. After I received a commendation from the Philippine Embassy, I really felt that I had helped, and become a pillar of strength for my people. Due to the circumstances of my job, in the spring 2014 I moved from Fukushima City to Osaka City, and I began working for an accounting office. I also work as an interpreter of Tagalog, and as a life consultant. I still receive lecture requests from schools and local governments. It is exactly because I experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake, that I am able to spread information, and I would like to continue doing so in the future.
No.83 Reiko Tetsuka (Fukushima Resident. From China／Interviewed February,2016)
After experiencing the Great East Japan Earthquake, I strongly considered what I could do for Fukushima, and what I could do to contribute to the situation. About a year later, I started a business. Our main work was in translating and interpreting, but we also supported businesses making advances into China, and helped foreigner residents integrate into society. Little by little, our business has expanded. We recently named our venture the “Fukushima Restoration Project” and began taking on tourism jobs from the prefecture. We also promote Fukushima to Chinese tourists. From now on, I would like for us to remember to “always challenging new things” and continue working towards the future.
No.82 Alison Lam (Fukushima City, from Australia／Interviewed November,2015)
I became an ALT in the summer of 2011, and I currently teach at elementary and junior high schools throughout the city. Upon arriving in Japan, suddenly living in a foreign country and shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I began to feel a little homesick. However, I soon realized that the easy pace of living and atmosphere of Fukushima suited my personality, and quickly adjusted to living comfortably in the city. I haven’t been super aware of the situation during natural disasters, such as when it rained heavily and a “prepare to evacuate” warning was being sent out; I was not particularly worried by it. I would like to be able to attain accurate information during emergencies in order to calmly take the appropriate actions to ensure my own safety.
No.81 Mudathir Bakhit (Fukushima City, From Sudan／Interviewed November,2015)
I arrived in September 2015, and am currently working at the Fukushima Prefectural Medical School as a medical intern. There’s nothing in particular that worries me about living in Fukushima, and every day I work towards tomorrow. At my workplace, all conversations are done in English, so even without Japanese, I can communicate with others. But in my everyday life, I can feel the necessity for Japanese. From now on, I will be working in Japan for approximately 10 years, so in order to interact with native Japanese people I take Japanese lessons every week.
No.80 Li Liyan (Koriyama city, from China／Interviewed November,2015)
In March 2015, I began the Sino-Japanese Cultural Connectedness Group, Koufuku. All our members are people with Chinese roots that want to learn about and exchange information on Chinese and Japanese culture. It was established for the sake of teaching children our mother tongue, to provide lectures on yoga and Chinese dance, and to deepen our understanding of each other, as people and as cultures. When I first came to Japan and when I experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake, I wished someone would help me, but I didn’t know what to do or how to receive that help. Because I experienced this uncertainty, I wanted to do something to lessen the struggles of those living with the same anxiety I felt. Taking these thoughts into consideration, I would like to help create a region where people are able to help each other, and to live full and meaningful everyday lives.
No.79 Reika Goto (Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed June,2015)
In May, I gave a lecture on how foreigners and Japanese people can live harmoniously in Japan. I told my attendants that if I am to live in Japan, then I believe it is essential that I learn Japanese in order to communicate with my family and Japanese friends, but also so I can face my child’s growth and education. If I am unable to communicate, my day-to-day life will not be bright. I have never been good at collecting information, and after the earthquake disaster, I went through many hardships in order to fully understand the correct information. Now, by using various SNS platforms such as Wechat and Line, I can easily keep in touch with my Chinese friends, so I am able to relieve a little of the stress of everyday life.
No.78 Faisal Budi Armansyah (Fukushima city, from Indonesia／Interviewed June,2015)
In November of 2012, I came to Fukushima as a technical skills trainee. This fall I will have been here for approximately 3 years, carrying out constructional machinery work and studying other techniques such as welding. In 2004 I experienced the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. At the time, myself, my family, and the high school I attended were unharmed, but the fear of how suddenly large-scale disasters can occur was something that I came to understand, and I became constantly aware of disaster prevention. During my time living in Fukushima, I have experienced many large earthquakes, but each time I am able to calmly judge where the closest evacuation center is and how to best protect myself. Also, at the time of a disaster, I am able to accurately acquire information, and I have memorized disaster related Japanese words.
No.77 Maricel Sasaki (Fukushima city, from the Philippines／Interviewed June,2015)
I have one daughter in high school, one son in Jr high school, and one son in elementary school.
Everyone’s schedules are different, and I also work, so every day is a busy struggle. We came to Japan after the disaster, so I was unaware of the Great Tohoku Earthquake or the nuclear accident at the time, but my children’s health is always something that I keep in mind.
No.76 Mirasol Suzuki (Iwaki city, from the Philippines／Interviewed February,2015)
Immediately following the disaster, I evacuated to my husband’s home and my sister’s place in Wakayama for a while, and I have lived in Iwaki since. My son was born 2 years ago and parenting life is taugh, but I now work at an English conversation class there, enjoying my peaceful life. Many people are slowly coming back after the immediate evacuation post the disaster. We have many new comers too coming to Iwaki. There are many Filipinos living in Iwaki right now and we have several local Iwaki-Philippine communities targeting different ages and backgrounds. We are very collaborative as a whole.
No.75 Ketsu Go (Fukushima city, from inner Mongolia, China／Interviewed February,2015)
After having studied at several Japanese language schools and colleges in Tokyo since 2010, I was admitted to Fukushima University last year in spring. I selected Fukushima University not because it has the major I wanted to study but also because of its resemblance to inner Mongolia I realized it when I came to volunteer right after the earthquake. I am currently majoring management at Fukushima University and have had many chances to interact with some local companies. I wish to honor their gratitude and work in Fukushima post graduation.
No.74 Binita Thapa (Fukushima city, from Nepal／Interviewed February,2015)
I have been studying Japanese at Fukushima Japanese Academy since spring last year. There are many memorable moments such as going to Soma and Iwaki to see the ocean. It was the first time I ever see the ocean! My friends and I were so excited about it! It was our first time ever! After we learned that Fukushima was severally hit by Tsunami from the ocean in front of us, I then became quite disaster-conscious.
I will be upgraded to the upper class from spring this year, it means the language level would be high, yet I am enthusiastic to work hard for it to secure my future dream job in tourism in Japan.
No.73 Karuka Nancy Sachi (Aizu-wakamatsu city, from Brazil／Interviewed November,2014)
My father came from Futaba town and my grandparents from my mother’s side came from Motomiya city (the old Motomiya town). I participated activities at Brazil Fukushima prefecture organization in Brazil since young, so when I heard about the Great East Japan Earthquake, I felt pain in my heart.
Now as a prefecture-paid exchange student, I am studying graphic design at Aizu University collage short-term. During this exchange, I am grateful to have the opportunity to study what I desire and to see Fukushima firsthand.
No.72 Sainbuyan Odbayar (Fukushima city, from Mongolia／Interviewed November,2014)
I came to Fukushima University on exchange right after the earthquake in 2011, I planned to attend grad school next spring. Other than business, I want to study entrepreneur programs and do an internship in the United States. I desire to master the mechanics of entrepreneurship for the future.
A few days ago, I attended “National Students English Speech Contest” and made a speech titled “Accelerate revitalization!” I believe that young and strong candidates are the ones who will truly benefit the society in the future. I expect myself to experience much and grow into someone like this.
No.71 Chan Sawakami (Koriyama city, from Vietnam／Interviewed November,2014)
I came to Japan in 2007, currently we have family restaurant business in Koriyama city. Although our restaurant had received various damages from the disaster, we rebuilt it and the old customers had come back eventually. At our Vietnamese restaurant, there are foreign staff other than Vietnamese. We understand how hard it is to comprehend Japanese, therefore, we are all connected and bear in mind that mutual helping is crucial.
In recent years, many Vietnamese students came to Fukushima to do research, I do my best to provide resources and advice to them in order to help them smoothing out their Japan experience.
No.70 Baz Muhammad (Fukushima City, from Pakistan／Interviewed October,2014)
I have lived here for 12 years now. I am in the field of second-hand cars dealership. I have started to sell car audios and car navigation systems in the recent years too. My work schedule is quite hectic that I rarely have time to rest, nevertheless I am very appreciative towards the peace my family and I enjoy here. I have long had the thought that hardships come along with living, however, I now feel the warmth from my surroundings. I am very grateful for it.
No.69 Emma Wilson (Kawamata Town, from Britain／Interviewed October,2014）
From 2010 Sept to 2011 summer, I had participated in an exchange program at university in Hiroshima city. During the period, I went to Tokyo in March and that was when I experienced the earthquake. It was the first time I ever experienced an earthquake, I has now become a memory I could never forget. Starting from August this year, I am teaching elementary and junior high schools at Kawamata town as an ALT. I was a linguistic major at my university, I feel that this job is a chance to learn some interesting facts of Japanese language and I wish in the future, I can use Japanese at my work.
No.68 William Patrick Timms (Yamatsuri town, from Britain／Interviewed October,2014）
I came in the spring of 2013, I live in Yamatsuri now. Although I came with the expectation that there would be cultural differences living here, I was surprised that there were many unexpected episodes happened. Through facebook, I learned about the opportunity called “One World Project” at FIA, and now I am a member of this project. The other members were quite nice to me and we all share ideas working on the project. Now we are making a video clip aiming to introduce the charms of Fukushima, we are all excited.
No.67 Williamkston Racreit (Fukushima city, from Thailand／Interviewed May,2014)
I started to go to a high school in April 2011, after having lived in Fukushima for a year and half. I tried very hard to make friends and studying Japanese. Now it has been three years and I feel a sense of fulfillment. I got a job this year in April, and I am now working hard in the new environment. I had been avoiding facing difficult situations, however the time I spent here in Japan after the earthquake taught me to be strong and have faith in myself. I hope to be an advisor for children who share similar experiences as me.
No.66 Maria Mitani(Fukushima city, from the Philippines／Interviewed May,2014)
I started to work as the Tagalog counselor staff at FIA from this spring. I have been living in Fukushima for 20 years and I have a very deep connection with this city; whenever I go back to my own country, I feel like a foreigner and I learn new things there. I hope to be able to help more people who have similar experiences as me.
No.65 Won Chang Sob (Fukushima city, from Korea／Interviewed May,2014)
I did home stay for a month when I was high school back in 2006, in Fukushima. I had made many friends and they made me wanted to study Japanese more after I came back to Korea. My desire to work in Japan grew stronger. By chance, I entered Fukushima University and I am happy about it.
I did military service for two years during which I had to take a break from my school. I resumed my school life this year in April. Coming back to Japan, I realized that I have so many to learn, and it made me want to strive to study more.
No.64 Corazin Razon Noriko (Fukushima city, From the Philippines／Interviewed May,2014)
I have been working at an English conversation school for almost 20 years here in Fukushima. In the beginning I mainly taught the students English, but as time passed by, I started to attend more social events. I even participated in establishing elementary in my own country.
It was hard to mingle with Japanese when I first came for there weren’t many foreigners. I had counseled with many Philipino friends in Fukushima and I feel that the experiences back then have assisted me till now.
My motto is not to say “ it is hard” and to face everyday with optimism. It was quite a shock to me that such a big earthquake happened on March 11th. However, I pray daily now and I try to think positively.
No.63 Rei Washio(Koriyama city, lived in Kawauchi village before March 11th earthquake, from China／Interviewd March,2014）
Because I lived in Kawauchi village, I had to evacuate. I went to Koriyama with my husband, however, my husband has to leave Koriyama to work; I am currently living with my three small children. I have not accustomed to the current life. I wish to find a full-time job soon, but I am still trying to maintain the work-life balance. However, ever since I started to live in Koriyama, I have met many mothers whose children go to the same school as mine. I have realized the importance of mantaining a good people relationships and help each other. I am very grateful to these who helped me and I wish to maintain a close tie with these people in the future too.
No.62 Bat-erdene Lkham-Yanjin (Fukushima city, from Mongolia／Interviewed February,2014)
I went to Fukushima University in 2011 right after the earthquake. At that year, where were only 7 exchange students, I started my university life in worries in the beginning. At the university, I received helps from another Mongolian student who came from the same high school as I did. Furthermore, after volunteering to visit the temporary houses, I feel my university life has become richer. Currently, I am helping out with FIA to introduce Mongolia to more people. It made me want to know about my own country more. I have only 1 year left at Fukushima University, and I hope to contribute more to Fukushima in a meaningful way during my stay.
No.61 Jaliet Tanno(Iwaki city, from the Philippines／Interviewed March,2014)
After the Great East Japan Earthquake, the small Filipino communities living in Iwaki came together to form a big group called “Iwaki-Filipino community”. There are 50 members registered now and they hold monthly meetings. They try to exchange information about living in Japan among themselves. Recently, the Iwaki community center is holding English workshops for Grade 5 and 6 elementary students. Although the strength coming from one person may be small, cooperation with each other will definitely make a strong team. I hope that these types of activities can be continued into the future.
No.60 Panida Terada (Koriyama city, from Thailand／Interviewed November,2013)
Due to the disaster, the Thai restaurant that I opened was forced out of business for a period of time. I reopened it finally in the autumn in 2012. There were customers with various backgrounds coming ever since. I have befriended with many people who were born in Thailand from Koriyama and Shirakawa. Sometimes, they would counsel me about their lives after the disaster. I am often quite busy that I rarely have time to take off to enjoy myself, therefore, whenever I find time to go to Koriyama Bandai Atami Hot spring, I always feel relaxed and refreshed. These are the moments I realized the goodness of living in Fukushima prefecture.
No.59 Rin Ookura (Fukushima city, from the Philippines／Interviewed December,2013)
After the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Philipino group Hawak Kamay Fukushima was created. I volunteer there to support the victims.Whenever I recall the typhoon diaster in Philipine on the 8th of November 2013, I feel the pain in my chest. Moreover, we held a campaign to raise fund at the JR Fukushima East entrance on the 30th in November and 1st in December. There were many who encouraged us to do more, I feel grateful for all the helps we received. It made me realize the importance of cooperation even on some smallest things.
No.58 Min Shinyan (Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed December,2013）
I originally planned to go to Fukushima University in the spring of 2011, however, due to the diaster, I had to delay my enrollment for a year. During the year, I gathered much information on radiation and it helped me to recognize the actual risk, which results in my worry-free mentality living in Fukushima.
I became the president at the student council for exchange students; I also participated in the cultural festival and various events held by Fukushima International Association. Moreover, as a guest for the International Understanding workshops at Fukushima International Association, I had an opportunity to introduce the elementary and junior high school student’s Chinese culture and customs. I feel very blessed having the students listening to my talk. Although, there are only two more years to spend in Fukushima, I would like to further enrich my experiences here by participating in events actively.
No.57 Keiko Kono(Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed August,2013）
In my daily life I try to keep a peaceful heart. However after the Earthquake in Fukushima, I lost my coolness and has become sensitive to the way my daughter grows up. Luckily, I have a good work environment and people cooperate with each other. It helped me to change the way I think. Not only I learned to be optimistic, I also learned to make decisions from multiple perspectives. Due to the nuclear disaster, there still are many problems with Fukushima. However, I would like actively keep gathering information and doing something to help with the reconstructions in Fukushima.
No.56 Naoki Honda(Fukushima city, from the Philippines／Interviewed August,2013)
10 days before the Earthquake, a fire destroyed my house. I lived away from my family after both disasters. Moreover, I found work 2 months later after the earthquake, so I only had painful memories associated with 2011.Even now, it still pains me to think about these, after seeing physicians for many times, I finally was able to open a restaurant this year in Fukushima city. Although everyday is a about survival, I feel satisfied every day. I also wish that many customers will visit my restaurant.
No.55 Lui Fang (Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed July,2013)
I was on my spring vacation and I stayed at home when the Great East Japan earthquake happened. I received a notice from the Chinese embassy in Niigata prefecture that I should leave. However, I was not able to leave my family and husband, so I decided to stay. Instead of worrying about the radiation, I chose to live with my family and I think this is more important personally.
Compared to About 10 years ago, when I just came to Japan, I had a hard time mingling with people in Japan. Compared to then, I feel I became stronger after this experience. I am able to think in others’ perspectives with considerations. Now, I am joining the [Fukushima Global Collage 2013] held by FIA. I have received much insight regarding the future.
No.54 Rei Shiga(Koriyama city, lived in Ookuma town before March 11th earthquake, from China／Interviewed in May,2013)
As I was in Okuma town when the earthquake struck, I was forced to evacuate and now I live in the temporary housing in Aizu-Wakamatsu City. I feel anxious as I have been living in the temporary housing for a long period of time and my life has been different since the earthquake. It is also difficult to mingle with the people who are living in the temporary housing. I feel that I need to accept the different values that people perceive and strengthen relationship with others as well as to grasp and to treasure all the possible opportunities.
The municipal government gave each one of us living in the temporary housing a tablet – an information access device, which allows us to confirm any latest information from the town office. We can also use the internet, make phone calls and use SNS via this tablet. I got myself a smart phone as well. Although I am not used to using a smart phone, I am trying my best to become better at it.
No.53 Amy Kawamura (Fukushima city, from the U.S.A.／Interviewed May,2013)
After the earthquake, I evacuated with my son to my husband’s hometown in Sakata City in Yamagata Prefecture because I was worried about my son’s health. Although there are still earthquakes and I am still worried about radiation, our family decided that we want to be together so we came back to Fukushima City this March. My son returned to his former elementary school and was able to meet his friends again. He enjoys his time playing outside.
7 years ago, when I was moving from Narita City in Chiba Prefecture to Fukushima City, people said to me, “Fukushima is full of nature and the food is delicious so you will definitely enjoy living there!” However, after the earthquake, I can feel a 180 degree turnaround with people’s attitudes toward Fukushima. Misunderstandings toward Fukushima still exist. However I feel I need to tell people that I have returned to Fukushima and I feel safe living here. I hope that tourists will come and visit Fukushima again.
No.52 Adam Velin (Fukushima city, from Canada／Interviewed May,2013)
I came to Fukushima City last summer as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT). Before the arrival, some members in my family were unhappy about my decision yet as I felt there was nothing that I should be worried about because it had been more than a year since the disaster, I came to Fukushima.
Upon arrival, I got to know more information regarding the disaster and the nuclear accident and witnessed the toughness of people in Fukushima that they never gave up even after a disaster at such a scale. My tenure as an ALT is till next summer yet in the meantime I would like to accumulate as much experience I could here in Fukushima. I will treasure the opportunities in meeting new people, visiting famous tourism spots within the prefecture and enjoy the beautiful nature here.
No.51 Cho Yon Hee(Koriyama city, from Korea／Interviewes March,2013)
After the earthquake most of my friends either went back to their countries or evacuated to other prefectures. However, I did not have the options of “return to my country” or “evacuate”. I believe I have made the right choice. As I have been in Koriyama for 17 years with my family, I do not consider myself as a “foreigner (Korean)” but rather as a “Koriyama citizen”.
I teach Korean classes and Korean cuisine at the community centres in Koriyama City and Yabuki town. After the earthquake, one lesson I have learned is that no matter how tough the road might be, people will eventually fight through it. As people that come to my classes are motivated and have their own goals so I want to help and provide that power for them.
Starting from April, I will be giving new lectures and as the school where I teach Korean will be entering a new semester as well, I am looking forward to it.
No.50 Chamila Larunatilake（Aizu-Wakamatsu city, from Sri Lanka／Interviewed February,2013）
Although the Aizu region which I live in was not deeply affected by Great East Japan Earthquake, I was worried as my phone did not have any reception and my internet was disconnected for a few days. After the disaster, I went and volunteered with some professors from my university and some friends. I was devastated to see how the areas were destroyed by the tsunami in person but at the same time I was impressed by how hard the Japanese people fought in a crucial time like this. It is something I will never forget. I truly felt the strength and the sincerity of the Japanese people.
With the experience of the disaster, I began doing things such as comparisons between the normal level of radiation and the level of radiation in Fukushima Prefecture and did a research on how our health might be affected by radiation. I am more aware and have more knowledge of the nuclear accident and radiation now. The anxiety is now gone and I believe I am making the right judgments.
No.49 Tameria Brent（Iwaki city, from the U.S.A／Submitted February,2013）
I've been living in Iwaki since September 2009. I was here before and after the disaster on March 11, 2011. I work at Iwaki Amity English School and I love my job, the teachers, and the children. It's truly a blessing working there. After the disaster, I went to Nasu, Tochigi for 3 weeks until the school reopened and my apartment was inspected for safety. I stayed with my church family from Global Mission Center and friends. It was hard because I was far away but great because I was with people who loved and cared for me and they cared for others.
I love Iwaki!! I hope that I can stay here for a long time. The people here are wonderful! Throughout my time here, I have met so many people from around the world. Because of the disaster I have gain a larger family.
No.48 Yu Hao Zhao (Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed January,2013)
The East Japan Great Earthquake struck after I have decided to go abroad and study in Fukushima University in May, 2011 but due to safety reasons, my parents and my friends opposed. I knew exactly how my parents felt and I was worried about the nuclear incident myself yet nothing could have changed my mind as I have decided to come to Fukushima. Afterwards, I realized that I was the only exchange student from China that year.
Fukushima is a very beautiful prefecture that is rich in nature and I think this is one of the merits living here. I was born and raised in one of the metro cities in China yet a place such as Fukushima with lots of nature and fresh air is amazing.
During this time of the year, I can see snow on Mt. Azuma-Kofuji every morning and I feel refreshed. I feel sad when I think about how the disaster took away people’s chances of enjoying themselves in this beautiful prefecture. The message I hope to convey is that in Fukushima, the air is fresh with wonderful scenery and the food is delicious. Therefore, people should not worry about anything as I think there is absolutely no problem living in Fukushima.
No.47 Jayne Nakata（Iwaki city, from the N.Z.／Submitted January,2013)
We have gotten our confidence back, to venture out to Onahama port again.
It has taken over a year but now we feel less nervous about going there even though I always wear my running shoes, just in case. We took our 18 month old daughter to Aquamarine Fukushima last weekend. She was so excited to see all the different marine animals and fish. I have been wanting to go there for a while since I heard they were operating again and that they were struggling with low visitor numbers. It was early in the day but there were few other visitors and we enjoyed seeing all the animals up close easily and even had the viewing platform to ourselves at one point. It really is a neat place to visit for all ages.
I have lived in Iwaki city for 10 years.
After the disaster struck, I thought Iwaki would surely become a ghost town. To my surprise, it is exactly the opposite. Nearly 2 years on from the disaster Iwaki is a bustling place, people are on waiting lists to move here, I doubt Iwaki has ever been such a sought after place to live. There has been a huge influx of people from the evacuation zone who want to rebuild their lives here, somewhere that is familiar to them, where the weather is good and not so far from their original homes. Someone told me that the population has increased by 20,000 people. There are no apartments for rent, all are full. There are lots of jobs for people who want to work and there are new houses springing up on every vacant lot.
Unfortunately we now also have to deal with more traffic jams and longer lines at the doctors. I hope the infrastructure of Iwaki will catch up to the population soon.http://worldvillage.sblo.jp/article/61652022.html
No.46 Jared Rodgers (Sukagawa city, from the U.S.A.／Interviewed December,2012)
I am entering my 7th year as an ALT in Kagamiishi town. When the earthquake struck, I was in my elementary school helping children evacuate. I was worried if my house was damaged by the quake and fortunately, I still had electricity and running water. As my friend did not have running water and electricity at his place, I offered mine so he could take a warm bath.
Immediately after the earthquake, some of my friends went back to their respective countries temporarily. However, for many of us who love the people, the nature, hot springs and the ski resorts here, we did not leave and chose to stay. The friends who went home temporarily have also returned.
I participated in festivals in the nearby shrine, carried portable shrines at events, took part in camps and made friends with local Japanese citizens.
Recently, I started playing the taiko (Japanese traditional drum) with children from this area and have them teach me how to play it. In addition, I have joined the softball team in Kagamiishi town.
If you tell me that we have returned to the life before the disaster, I’d tell you that life is much better than before.
No.45 Kazumi Inomata (Aizu-Misato town, from Vietnam／Interviewed November,2012)
I am the owner of a Vietnamese restaurant in Aizu-Wakamatsu city. I came to Japan when I was small and I have been in Aizu for more than 30 years.I often act as a consultant for people that are also from Vietnam in the Aizu area. Immediately after the disaster, I perpared Vietnamese food for the evacuees and because of this, many evacuees came to my restaurant afterwards.
In addition, not only the people from Vietnam would come to my restaurant, but also people from Southeast Asia would drop by and enjoy the food. This is also a way to nurture the cultural understanding between each other.
No.44 Eri V.V. Kanno (Fukushima city, from Paraguay/Argentina／Submitted October,2012)
Other than the fact that my husband is from Fukushima, I am mostly attracted to the beauty of nature and this is the reason I have decided to live here.
You can see cherry blossoms on the mountains in spring and if you add a faint contrast with the mountain, it looks like one of Kaii Higashiyama’s works. During summer, you can see green colours everywhere. In autumn, the blossom of the cosmos shades a golden colour on the fields. Lastly, it is quiet in the winter as cities and towns are covered with white snow. This is the Fukushima that I love.
It has been 1 year and 8 months since the tragedy that happened in March.
People here have slowly gained some power and are smiling again.
A few days ago when I was walking under the gingko trees in Azuma Park, I met a mother and her two adorable sons. The mother told me that the brothers were picking acorns for their father. They gave me one of the acorns as gift and for me, it was very special as I did not have any previous knowledge of acorns.
Through the light on the yellowish gingko trees, the smiles of the brothers were shining bright. I kept the little acorn and put it on my desk which will always remind me of the heartfelt moment I had with the family. http://worldvillage.sblo.jp/article/60059123.html
No.43 Benjamas Sasa (Fukushima city, from Thailand／Interviewed October,2012)
I have been living in Japan for four years with my husband and two sons. I have never experienced an earthquake with such big scale before. The earthquake struck when we were about to head out.I am glad that we were together when the earthquake happened or else I would have been a lot more worried. I also feel very fortunate that people around me have provided support in many aspects and they have always been there for me when I needed someone to talk to.
Certainly, I am worried about radiation and the explosion of the nuclear power plants yet as I do not know much Japanese, even if I watch the news I do not understand what it is saying thus, I feel anxious when I do not get enough information. Although I go to Japanese classes, I still have a long way to go to understand everything. Therefore, other than studying in the classroom, I try to use Japanese as much as possible so I can try to minimize the language barrier in daily life.
No.42 Scot Aalgaard(from Canada／Submitted September,2012)
After serving as Coordinator for International Relations with the Fukushima International Association from 2001 to 2004, I returned to Canada to obtain a Master of Arts in Pacific & Asian Studies, and am currently carrying out research into Fukushima culture and social history as a doctoral student at the University of Chicago.
This past September, I had the chance to visit Fukushima, which I continue to regard as my second home, for the first time in about two years.
After reuniting with friends and loved ones, I spent several days traveling around the Prefecture, learning directly from residents across the region about what ‘recovery’ means to them, and about how they are grappling with this concept within the contexts of their own lives and realities.
I even got the chance to sample delicious Fukushima fruit, direct from the farm! There are a great many issues yet to be addressed, to be sure, but I nonetheless sensed a great potential in the historical juncture at which Fukushima currently finds itself.
I look forward to the opportunity to continue to learn from and share ideas with my friends in Fukushima, and to be able to play a positive role, however small, in the history that is yet to come. http://worldvillage.sblo.jp/article/59082527.html
No.41 Roun Socheata（Date city, from Cambodia／Submitted September,2012)
At Miharu Herb Hana Garden. I like going there because it has beautiful flower, fresh air, and food is good and healthy especially I like drinking tea there as there are many choices.
No.40 Shaheed Sato (Minami Soma city, from Pakistan／Interviewed September,2012)
I came to Fukushima in 1987 and have lived here for 25 years.
I have Japanese citizenship and I live just like any other Japanese person. As most of the people from Minami Soma city evacuated after the earthquake, the number of students in my English school has dropped by more than fifty percent. As a result, in the past although I turned down a few offers to teach English at some companies, now I accepted the offers and began teaching in companies.
I have chosen Minami Soma city to be the place where I want to continue my life.
I have decided to settle down here, work hard and help with the reconstruction of Minami Soma city.
My newphew who works as a member of the municipal parliament in Canada came to Minami Soma for a couple of days in May this year. He witnessed how people were living their lives here in Fukushima and felt relieved after what he saw. My brother will come and visit me from Canada in October.
I really hope that they can tell their friends in Canada that the life of the people in Minami Soma is back on track and tell their friends about the “real” Minami Soma.
No.39 Warapon Satou (Date city, from Thailand／Submitted August,2012)
I am growing Thailand herbs in my backyard.
I am looking forward to enjoying the herbs.
No.38 Ayako Harada (Fukushima city, from Brazil／Interviewed July,2012)
During the earthquake I was travelling in Gifu Prefecture and left my daughter who is still in high school at home by herself. I was very worried with my daughter’s situation as I could not get a hold of her. Fortunately she got on the bus that was prepared by the Embassy of Brazil and after a week or so we were able to reunite in Shizuoka Prefecture. Right now as life in Fukushima is back to normal, my daughter has returned to school enjoying her school life and I too, have returned to work. I have decided to stay put and carry on with my life here in Fukushima.
No.37 Kathryn Goto (Fukushima city, from the Philippines／Submitted July,2012)
On July 8th, an event called “Festival HKF Moving Foward”was held in Fukushima city. During the event, foreign residents gathered and discussed the future of Fukushima and exchanged opinions. Foreign residents from other prefectures also participated in this event and everyone had a great time with the food, music and dance.
No.36 Mika Yamamoto (Fukushima city, from Korea／Interviewed July,2012)
Although Japan is a country known for its earthquakes, the earthquake that struck last year was unprecedented. The nuclear explosion which happened after the earthquake was something that caught many’s eyes. During the time, I was absolutely terrified and even till today, it is still hard to believe that it has already been a little more than a year since the disaster.
I have become very sensitive to the foods in Fukushima city and I am very worried that there might be radioactive materials such as cesium in them.
Therefore I would always order water, vegetables and meat from overseas. Under such circumstances, I feel very stressed out and I believe I am not the only person with this feeling.
I try to relieve my stress by taking the students I teach in a Korean class to Korea for some refreshment. While they practice Korean during the trip, I am able to get some fresh air, some nutrition and also get some massage for my stressed out body.
I believe this type of lifestyle is what is best for me now.
No.35 Mark Smith（Tomioka town, from U.K.／Interviewed June,2012)
After the earthquake, Mark evacuated from Tomioka town to Aizu-Wakamatsu city. Mark teaches as a full time teacher yet after work, his life’s-work is playing the electronica music he produces using electronic sounds and a synthesizer at live events. Mark travels around the country from Tokyo to Hokkaido to perform and he is planning to have his concert in Aizu-Wakamatsu city this June and three more concerts in Hokkaido in the next few months.
“Whenever I perform outside the prefecture, I would always tell the audience that I come from Fukushima Prefecture with pride and tell them that although Fukushima has suffered greatly from the disaster, I will continue to travel around to perform in order to help revitalize this prefecture” said Mark. Mark has uploaded his previous concert back in March on Youtube, please take a few minutes and enjoy his concert. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPuBq0e5qWU&feature=channel
No.34 Hideko Hattori (Nihonmatsu city, from China／Interviewed June,2012)
One dramatic change after the earthquake has to be the loss of jobs. I work in a hot spring hotel but my shifts have decreased after the quake. In the past, a great number of tourists from China, Korea, Thailand or South East Asia would come and visit yet after the disaster, I barely see any foreign tourists.Starting this May, I began a level two caretaker course and hope that with the certificate, I can look for another job.
No.33 Shu Sho Lian (Fukushima city, from Korea／Submitted May,2012)
I do not enjoy walking by myself because I feel a bit lonely doing so. Yet with “Saran”, even if it is just a simple thing such as walking around the park, I feel extremely relaxed and happy so I walk with him every morning.
I named my dog “Saran”as it means “love” in Korean and it is my favourite word. “Saran”, just like the word “love”, is very adorable and I love the way he walks. Hence, I have also become a big fan of walking as an exercise.
No.32 Renni Hoshi (Fukushima city, from Indonesia／Interviewed May,2012)
Before the earthquake, I would always invite my friends who are also from Indonesia to come over to my place and enjoy Indonesian food together. We all come from different backgrounds; some are grad school students, some are studying nursing and some have married to foreigners (international marriage).
Even after the quake, we still meet up on a monthly basis and every time there would be around 10 people.
A while ago, I received the booklet that was published by the Fukushima International Association on radiation and its effects on our health and I translated it into Indonesian so my friends could understand the situation better. I believe most of them feel more relieved after my explanations.
I have been in Fukushima for nearly twenty years and I guess I am a very approachable person and this is why they see me as the mother figure within the group.
No.31 Tran Doan Dung (Fukushima city, from Vietnam／Interviewed April,2012)
After the earthquake as water outage continued for a week, my family and I had to collect water from a source nearby. However, as there are many elders in the neighbourhood, it was difficult for them to carry the water as it was very heavy. A few days after the quake I was finally able to reach my mother in Vietnam and she was crying and begging me to return home. Yet, I was not able to leave because I did not want to leave my family behind and I also had to return to work. For the first few months, I was very concerned with the radiation and what harms it might have toward human bodies. In addition, I was a bit hesitant to buy any produce from Fukushima Prefecture. Nonetheless, life has returned to normal and as I want to make contributions toward the revitalization of Fukushima Prefecture, I prefer vegetables and fruits produced in Fukushima Prefecture over other prefectures.
Everyone, please come visit Fukushima and enjoy the products made in Fukushima.
No.30 Galal Ahmed(Fukushima city, from Egypt／Submitted April,2012)
This was submitted by Galal Ahmed who was originally from Egypt.
This picture was taken on April 28, 2012 in Gasenjo in Nihonmatsu city.
I saw cherry blossoms for the first time this year and already I fell in love with it.
I also enjoyed the cherry blossoms at night with the light-up.
However, I feel it’s a pity that the full blossom only lasts for a week.
No.29 Cecelia Ishida (Fukushima city, from Brazil／Submitted April,2012)
Fukushima city is surrounded by mountains and has a rich nature which people can enjoy all year long. The spring season has once again brought back a sign of life since the earthquake from last year. The floral clock is there to remind us that spring has arrived. I believe spring is a lovely season as people can enjoy cherry blossoms.
No.28 Ai Shirosaka(Sukagawa city, from China／Interviewed April,2012)
I have two children who are about to enter elementary school. After the quake, I would bring my children to places such as Aizu or places outside the prefecture on the weekends that have lower radiation levels. We would always go on a tour to Aizu with another companion who is also from China and during our conversation, we realized that we do not understand much about the customs in the schools in Japan and our children cannot speak Chinese so it becomes difficult for us to build rapport with them.
Therefore, we established an organization called the “Tsubasa” so that all the mothers with similar worries can meet up and come up with solutions.
Right now, we hold Chinese classes for the children twice a month in a nearby community centre in hope to improve their Chinese language abilities. There are around seven to eight families in this organization. We want to raise our children in such a way that they will want to tell others that their mothers are from China and be proud of this fact.
No.27 Passada Moriai(Koriyama city, from Thailand／Interviewed April,2012)
I have been in Japan for about ten years but the earthquake on March 11 was something I have never experienced before.
I thought to myself, “Everything is over. This is my destiny.” Afterwards, I received information on the explosion of power plants from my Japanese friend.
I was fortunate as I had already stored stocks of food and water so I did not have to go outdoors and look for them.
After the quake, one of the options for me was to make a return to Thailand temporarily yet as I just started my job, it was difficult for me to leave. In addition, one of my neighbours who was also from Thailand would check on me on a continuous basis which made me feel I was not alone.
Thus, I decided to stay put. However, frankly speaking, I am still very concerned with the radiation problem as I see it on TV from time to time. As radioactive materials cannot be seen, all I can do is to take good care of myself both mentally and physically
No.26 Sean Mahoney (Fukushima city, from Canada／Interviewed March,2012)
Compared with those who lost so much on the 11th March last year, I and my family have been lucky. Still, as a homeowner with small children, the nuclear disaster made me and my wife think long and hard about what to do. We’re still concerned about radiation levels, and will have our lawn and house decontaminated before our children return from their grandparents’ place in southern Aizu. It’s too bad the nuclear power plant bears the name “Fukushima,” which implies to people throughout the world that our entire Prefecture was equally affected by this tragedy. Anyway, since we love the community of friends and family around us, and cherish our home and careers as well, we’d like very much to stay. We’ve been greatly encouraged by actions taken to improve food testing and begin the massive cleanup, and hope they’ll continue unhampered by political instability.
No.25 Sumie Sanpei (Namie town, from China／Interviewed March,2012)
At midnight on March 12, I received information from the municipal government asking the residents to evacuate toward Tsujima. At the time, I thought we would only have to evacuate for two to three days and would be able to return home after. The next morning, our whole family packed up a few things and evacuated. Afterwards, we moved from one shelter to another and in August, we moved into temporary housing in Fukushima city. I have two children who are still in elementary school. After what had happened, we were forced to evacuate without much preparation and moved from shelter to temporary housing and we had to find a new school for our children. I was very stressed by everything and so were my children. We bought a new house five years ago in Namie town and we still have mortgage to pay. No matter how much I think about it, there is nothing I can do to solve it so the only way is to keep the faith and believe that good things will happen.
No.24 Galal Ahmed(Fukushima city, from Egypt／Interviewed February,2012)
I was in Egypt when the earthquake struck. Although I asked my wife who had returned to Fukushima a bit earlier to come home, she wanted to stay and make contributions to Fukushima so I respected her decision. Starting in April, I started living in Fukushima city with my wife. In Egypt, the media only showed the clips of the explosion of the power plants and therefore, I did not know what the exact situation looked like. I take photos as my hobby and post them online because I believe through these photos, people overseas will get to know what a beautiful place Fukushima really is. A few days ago, I saw snow for the first time in my life. I thought it was a kind of white flower falling down from the sky and I was very touched by its beautiful shape. I have uploaded the pictures of snow on to the website as well. I hope people will start coming back to Fukushima prefecture after they see my pictures. http://bit.ly/A9e3jX
No.23 Lise Nagata(Iwaki city, from Tonga／Interviewed February,2012)
After the earthquake, I was busy looking after elders who lived alone and volunteered at different evacuation centres with other Tongans for a month. My husband, who was in Tonga due to job transfers, called me numerous times and asked me to evacuate immediately. Nonetheless, when I thought about the people who took great care of me, my students from the English school and my close friends, I could not leave them behind. The English school reopened in May and the life here has returned to normal. I have been in Fukushima prefecture for 35 years, this is my home. Right now all I can do is to think positively and move forward.
No.22 Ken Lopez( Fukushima city, from the Philippines／Interviewed January,2012)
I live with my wife and three kids. After the earthquake, the water and gas services were down and as we were all very frightened by the news of the explosion of the power plants, we decided to evacuate to Tokyo on March 16th. We went back to the Philippines after a brief stay in Tokyo. As I had to return to work, I left my kids with my parents and came back to Fukushima with my wife in May. Although I talk to my kids via Skype, the fact that I cannot meet them in person truly frustrates me. I am planning to bring my kids back to Fukushima in March because of some visa matters yet I am worried about radiation. Will my kids be able to run around outdoors? What are some of the foods to avoid? How long can they stay in an environment like this? I am agonized yet nothing can be done to ease my anxiety.
No.21 Suh Kyungmi (Iwaki city, from the U.S.A.／Interviewed January,2012)
Our house was completely damaged by the earthquake so right after the quake, I stayed at an evacuation centre with my son and later moved to a friend’s place. As my husband was working in America at that time, our family was not able to reunite until March 18th. Although we have found a new place to stay, we are having a very difficult time adjusting to the new environment. Our family is planning to move to Kagoshima this summer as my husband has landed a new job there. It has already been 10 months since the earthquake and every day on the news, all I hear is “reconstruction”, “radiation”, and “decontamination”. In the beginning, I was in great panic so I had no time to think about other things but honestly, I am tired of hearing these similar stories every day. What I really need right now is to find a way to heal my soul.
No.20 Masami Kanno（Nihonmatsu city, from the Philippines／Interviewed December,2011）
After the earthquake, my neighbours and I volunteered at evacuation centres to assist the evacuees from Namie town. I was deeply frightened by the earthquake and radiation yet when I think about the people who have lost their homes and family members, I feel that my situation is nowhere in comparison. Every meal I would use rice from other prefectures for children and rice from Fukushima for adults. I feel as if we are fighting against an enemy which cannot be seen by our eyes. However, I believe I can overcome any burdens as long as I am with my family. In addition, I try to keep myself busy and try to attend as many events as possible to release my stress.
No.19 Zhang Qun（Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed December,2011）
I am an owner of a Chinese restaurant in Fukushima city. After the earthquake, my restaurant that was renovated less than a year ago ended up in a huge mess. I did not know what to do because there was no electricity and no water. However, the customers have returned and have shown support which gave me great courage. Since the quake, I have yet to take a day off but with steady efforts, I was able to build a trustworthy relationship with the customers. To me, this is a treasure that cannot be replaced. The quake has severely battered the tourism industry in Fukushima prefecture and many of the chefs in the Japanese inns have lost their jobs. I really do hope that the government can respond faster and bring Fukushima back on its feet. In the meantime, I will continue to serve delicious Chinese food and treasure the relationships I have gained during this disaster.
No.18 Chinthaka Kumara Wijesinghe(Koriyama city, from Sri Lanka／Interviewed November,2011）
The earthquake has led to the separation of my family. After the quake, my wife and my son stayed at a friend’s place in Nagoya and left the country for Sri Lanka. My son is now studying in America on an exchange program. As Japan is world famous for its technologies, I really hope that the professionals will be able to develop a technology to remove radioactive materials as soon as possible. I am very worried about children as they are the main pillars of this nation in the future. If the professionals do not act now, it will be too late. Ever since I studied abroad in the Science and Technology Department in Nihon University, I have had countless memories in Fukushima. Hence, I believe that Fukushima, the “Island of Happiness”, is where I belong.
No.17 Zhu Yun Fei ( Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed November,2011)
Immediately after the earthquake, I went back to China with my wife and my five year old son. My son is still in China with my parents now. Life in Fukushima is back to normal yet the content of my occupation has changed. I used to work as the coordinator to bring exchange students from different places in Asia to Fukushima. However, due to the nuclear incident, it is very difficult to recruit exchange students and hence, I need to find other methods to try to bring the students back to Fukushima. At the moment, I am most concerned with what effects radiation will have on children because all the scientists have different opinions. I am planning to go home someday to live with my son but honestly, I do not have anything planned after that.
No.16 Choi Yuna（Fukushima city, from Korea／Interviewed October,2011)
I am an international student from Korea currently studying in Fukushima. On the day of the earthquake, I stayed at a shelter with my friend. The next day my parents called me and told me what had happened to the power plant and urged me to leave, so I took the bus with my friend to Fukushima airport. We were lucky as we were able to fly back to Seoul on the 14th of March. Afterwards, as the new semester was about to begin and as I wanted to see with my own eyes the current situation in Fukushima, I returned in May. To my surprise, everything looked normal as if nothing had happened. I had my passport on me at all times in case I need to evacuate and wore a mask everywhere I go because I was worried about radiation. However, I do not do this anymore. I am determined in graduating from Fukushima University so I am working hard toward this goal.
No.15 Euripa Aparecida Ojima（Fukushima city, from Brazil／Interviewed October,2011)
I was working in Motomiya City when the earthquake struck so I was not able to return home until 11pm. As we became more worried about the explosion of the power plant so on the 15th of March my husband and I evacuated to Tokyo via a bus that was sent by the Embassy of Brazil and we eventually left the country. In Brazil, I would call my friend who was still in Fukushima once a week for updates. In June, we returned to Fukushima as I thought it was safe to do so. Although I am concerned with the radiation problem, nothing can be done to ease my anxiety. Also, as earthquakes happen so often, I have stocked up a few instant noodles in a bag by the front door in case another big one strikes. However, I believe with a strong will and the hope for life that Japanese people perceive, Japan can overcome the hardships and get back on track in no time.
No.14 Andrew Chapman(Aizu-wakamatsu city, from the U.S.A.／Interviewed September,2011)
I began working at the Aizu Wakamatsu International Association in May of 2011. During the earthquake, I was on a plane from Taiwan bound for Narita Airport.
The scenery of Aizu has not changed much since I first came to Aizu 2 years ago as a tourist. However, the number of tourists, especially from foreign countries, has decreased significantly. In addition, although Aizu is one of the areas least physically damaged by the earthquake, the damage to the city because of concerns of radiation is severe. Farmers are having trouble selling their products in or outside of Fukushima Prefecture. In spite of the earthquake, I decided to come back to Japan in hopes that I could support the foreign community living in Aizu Wakamatsu during this difficult time and be an information resource to those who want to help out with recovery efforts.
No.13 Liliana Takahashi（Soma city, from Mexico／Interviewed September,2011）
I was in Mexico planning for my wedding when the earthquake struck but I had to cancel it because of this. My husband told me that his parents lost their home in the tsunami and the kindergarten they own was then working as a shelter. I wanted to return immediately but my family in Mexico wouldn’t allow me because of the lack of resources in Japan. They thought I would be a burden to everyone.
After a month, I returned to Japan. My parents in Mexico were still worried about the radiation problem, but they were happy to know I was with my husband, and also helping. Now, I help in the kindergarten as an assistant, we plan events and have received much help so we can keep people occupied to put their minds in other things. Half of the children in the kindergarten lost their home, and some of them lost their family member. This is why I had to be here, because I wanted to help and make these children go through this tough time and get their beautiful smiles back.
No.12 Luiz Gustavo Oliveira(Fukushima city, from Brasil／Interviewed August,2011）
I have a daughter that is 8 months old. After the earthquake, essential services were all down and stores were closed so there was no way for us to find milk or diapers. Also, my wife was under great stress so she could not produce enough breast milk to feed the baby. After the explosion of the power plants, we went back to New Zealand for a month and a half to wait for things to get better. Although life is back to normal now I feel a sense of pity that I cannot take my daughter out for a walk because of the current situation. In addition, Fukushima is known for its peaches and although peaches are now in season, I am still a little hesitant to eat them. However, coming from an education background of agriculture, I can understand how the farmers feel. I believe the situation will get better in time and have hope in every day life.
No.11 Gene Lyu(Shinchi town, from the U.S.A.／Interviewed August,2011）
I cannot say too much has changed in my life since the March 11th earthquake. Sure, there were some inconveniences felt here and there, but I find it hard to complain knowing that those around me have seen and experienced far worse. At this point, I just consider myself lucky to be alive. If I were to say that anything has changed, I would say that it’s my outlook on life. It was amazing to see Fukushima pull together and not shy away from the task of recovering from this disaster. I also have a renewed sense of respect and appreciation for the ALT community we have in Fukushima. The support and commitment they have shown to each other, their local communities, and the prefecture of Fukushima has been simply amazing.
No.10 Seo Soo Yeong（Fukushima city, from Korea／Interviewed June,2011）
When the earthquake struck, I had just come home from my child’s graduation ceremony and had just finished parking my car in front of the house. With sudden huge shakes, I panicked, screaming “the house will fall down!” and “God, help me!” I went to my friend’s place in Tokyo with my children in March as the situation of the nuclear power plant was full of uncertainties. We came back to Fukushima Prefecture in April as we had to prepare the children for school. When I visited the shelters and saw evacuees living in such difficult conditions, I wanted to help them. Thus, I visited different shelters within the prefecture and performed a song called “From March 11 to a Brighter Tomorrow” hoping that the evacuees would regain their courage.
No.9 Sanjay Pareek（Koriyama city, from India／Interviewed June,2011）
I am mostly concerned with the nuclear problems. Although my children are here as classes have resumed, we went to a relative’s house in Kawasaki City which is 250 km away from Fukushima right after the incident of the nuclear power plant occurred. Although there have been continuous debates between the Central Government and TEPCO regarding the possible dangers radiation causes, as residents who reside in Fukushima Prefecture, it does not mean anything to us. Our family is still in Koriyama because my children have to attend school, I have work to go to, and my parents have been here for such a long time that it might be difficult for them to adapt to a new environment. Nonetheless, as refreshment, our family would travel to Aizu, a place further away from the power plant for hot springs on certain weekends.
No.8 Liu Yan Ting（Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed June,2011）
I am currently in my third year in Fukushima University. After the earthquake, I went to a friend’s place and a shelter for a brief stay and hopped onto a bus organized by the Chinese government which was headed toward Niigata Prefecture and eventually flew back to China. I returned to Fukushima on the night of the 10th of May before classes resumed. When I went back to the campus the next day I saw smiles on people’s faces as they participated in club activities. I was deeply touched by this. I certainly feel a bit of uneasiness returning to Fukushima yet when I saw this scene, but thought to myself, “I will be fine, I will study hard and graduate in two years!” I believe Fukushima will not falter even in a crisis like this.
No.7 Cecília Ishida (Fukushima city, from Brazil／Interviewed June,2011）
I was back home in Brazil when the earthquake struck. I was able to finally reach my husband two days after the quake. Although I returned to Japan on the 13th of March, as the bullet train and highway buses were not running, I was not able to return to Fukushima until the 28th of March. I feel a sense of deep regret knowing the fact that the scene of children playing outside with great energy is nowhere to be found, radiation problems cause concerns in people’s daily lives and what people used to believe to be “normal” is not “normal” anymore. I love Fukushima. I sincerely hope that Fukushima will regain its footsteps at a speedy pace.
No.6 Sharma Narender（Fukushima city, from India／Interviewed June,2011）
This will be my tenth year in Fukushima. I am the owner of two curry restaurants and I also deal second hand cars. After the earthquake, as we had difficulties delivering supplies to the restaurants, I had to close them down for a week. At that time, I spent almost every day cooking for evacuees at the shelters. Now, I have reopened all three shops. However, I guess groundless rumors regarding radiation problems caused by the power plants did in fact strike Fukushima. Although there are still second hand car buyers in the prefecture, the number of buyers outside the prefecture has dropped dramatically and if this continues, it will be very difficult to maintain the business. Nonetheless, all of our staff stayed and we will fight through this together.
No.5 Chloe Wooding（Koriyama city, from U.K.／Interviewed June,2011）
I am working as an elementary school assistant English teacher in Koriyama. On the day of the earthquake, it was the last visit to a particular school for the third term. On returning home, my apartment was in complete disarray. Worrying for some people living alone, I dropped by some neighbors. With aftershocks through the entire night I was glad to stay with one neighbor until morning. Returning to school for the new term, I was welcomed by the cheerful voices of the children. Due to the nuclear disaster, these are difficult times - especially for children, so I want to work hard to keep their spirits up. Radiation is worrying, but my father has reassured me that levels are low enough not to worry about. During my regular tea ceremony classes, is a time to relax and forget about the present troubles.
No.4 Yetti Takahashi（Kawamata town, from Indonesia／Interviewed June,2011）
I was in the middle of a child care volunteer activity when the earthquake struck. After I had evacuated all the toddlers who participated in the activity and brought them somewhere safe, I waited for the aftershocks to subside to go back to the venue and close all the windows before I went home. As our family has always used water from the well, we continued to use it just like before. However, since the water is not from the water supply system, I became concerned whether it was safe to drink the water as the level of radiation is not monitored by officials. Our 100-year-old house was severely wrecked by the earthquake. I would want to move to the Kansai area when I consider the health of my children who are still in elementary school. However, this is a tough decision to make as they also have school matters to deal with.
No.3 Lű Xue Ru（Tsukidate Town, from China／Interviewed June,2011）
To tell the truth, when the earthquake occurred, the shaking was so fierce that I was even prepared to meet my final moment. My wife and I chose to sleep in the car with our two dogs that night because strong aftershocks struck continuously afterwards. I am worried about radiation exposure, but also believe that overreacting could only do harm to my mental health and thus cause diseases. Furthermore, the current level is not that much compared with the exposure one gets from an X-ray check-up. I had no option but to take it easy by accepting it as a part of my life and my destiny. My wife is coming back at the end of May after leaving for China. I am really looking forward to walking our dogs with her soon.
No.2 Kathryn Goto (Fukushima city, from the Philippines／Interviewed May,2011）
Originally from the Philippines, Ms. Kathryn Goto, works as a Tagalog interpreter for FIA. She has acted on her own initiative to report on the disaster situation and the Earthquake information center service on her Facebook since the earthquake. She has also voluntarily served as a liaison between the Philippines embassy and Filipinos living in Fukushima Prefecture. Ms. Goto hopes that more people will be able to take actions based on correct information and not be misled by false rumors.
No.1 Reiko Tezuka(Fukushima city, from China／Interviewed April,2011)
Ms Reiko Tezuka, is one of FIA’s multi- cultural support workers. Originally from China, she now lives with her family in Fukushima city. She came to the foreign support earthquake information center daily to answer inquiries and translate information from the prefectural disaster head-quarters, despite suffering from a lack of running water. During a time of unprecedented crisis which affected so many people’s lives, Ms Reiko Tezuka continues to support and reassure people with her smile and positive attitude.