ROAD vol.9 Evacuees' Short Comments
by Voices from the Field Admin - Thursday, 30 August 2012, 07:43 AM



Read the prologue to the evacuees' comments listed below

Many people from different prefectures come here to help us and I appreciate their effort. Many evacuees are moving out from the evacuation centers. Some of them leave before we even get to know their names. (Woman in her 30s, Ishinomaki, March 13, 2011)

I am a city officer from Edogawa-ku in Tokyo.Our office sends 25 staff members at a time on weekly rotations. We stay in a place about one hour from here. We have to come over the mountain so it’s not easy. We stay at the Disaster Prevention Center every other night. We can only take a bath every two to three days, so I really appreciate this foot bath – it feels good! In Edogawa-ku there are about 4000 public employees and that means it has the 4th largest number of public employees in the Tokyo area. I am trying to contact whomever I can and am asking everybody I know to come here to help. My wife and children encourage me to come out here as well. (Man in his 40s, Kesennuma, May 21, 2011)

I serve coffee and other drinks in the tea lounge and listen to other evacuees’ stories. Are you using tap water for this foot bath? I am using tap water to make coffee, too, but it smells of chlorine. I have started to smoke since I came here. It’s to facilitate communication, to get people to talk to me. I haven’t received permission to make a temporary visit to my home (to collect my belongings). I went back to my house a few times before it was restricted. I have visited this foot bath about three times now. (Man in his 50s, Koriyama City, May 21, 2011)

It’s the first time for me to receive a foot bath, though I have given it to others. (Man in his 20s, Kesennuma, June 5, 2012)

 (This man works for an NPO that supports the homeless in Korea.) We provide a foot bath service like this in Korea, too, but we also give a foot massage. As I came here as a volunteer, I feel a bit guilty to receive such a nice foot bath. (Man in his 50s, Kesennuma, June 5, 2012)

As I have responsibility as the leader of a district, I am often busy in many ways, such as going around to greet the volunteers. Though the number of volunteers has decreased these days, there were times when a lot of volunteers came at once, and it was difficult just to know the number of volunteers. Though this evacuation center is small, it is quite sufficient, and I am grateful that I can live here.(Man in his 60s, Kesennuma, June 5, 2012)

My name is a secret. I am currently working part-time at the temporary housing site and I got badly sunburnt. I have two daughters. Since this earthquake, all my family members are living separately, which makes it very difficult for me. If my family were living nearby it would make me feel so much better. (Man in his 30s, temporary housing in Koriyama, July 2, 2011)

I moved here from Hyogo. I am getting used to the dialect. I am one of five siblings. I saw a big tank truck being swept away by the tsunami. An old man didn’t notice it and he rode his bicycle toward the tsunami.(A middle school girl, temporary housing in Iwanuma, August 22, 2011)

Where are you from? Do you do this (i.e. foot bath service) at other temporary housing sites? I heard from someone that there are temporary houses with people from Fukushima. We were supposed to go to Disneyland this spring but we could not go because of the earthquake. (An elementary school girl, temporary housing in Iwanuma, August 22, 2011)

I feel lonely, especially when I am alone. I lost all my friends. There is no one left. There are occasions for laughter, but sometimes I have sudden flashbacks. I am scared. (Woman in her 80s, temporary housing in Rikuzentakata, September 6, 2011)

I used to live near the sea. I tried to go back home a couple of times to take out some stuff, but I didn’t. Instead I just ran. If I had gone back home, I wouldn’t have survived. Quite a few people who lived away from the sea passed away. Many people who lived in places where nobody imagined a tsunami would reach were washed away. My younger brother has not yet been found. His wife passed away. I cannot accept his death until I see the body.(Woman in her 80s, temporary housing in Rikuzentakata, September 6,2011)

We were about to go to the beach when the tsunami came. My Grandma’s house was very close to the sea. We escaped to the nursery school, then moved to the primary school after it got dark. My dad came and picked me up the following day. Ahh, this foot bath feels nice! Somehow my middle toe feels tired. (A primary school boy, temporary housing in Kesennuma, July 31, 2011)

I can’t find even one picture. It’s sad…the tsunami flushed everything away, literally washing away everything in an instant. I also lost a close friend of mine whom I could talk to about anything. I feel lonely. I will miss this foot bath. Please come back anytime. I will remember your face.(A woman in her 70s, temporary housing in Yamamoto, August 10, 2011)

I made a brief visit to my house in Kawauchi Village yesterday to feed my cats. I found the dead body of one of my cats; it had been eaten by the other. Cats and cows are more miserable than human beings in that they don’t know about the situation with the nuclear plant.(A woman in her 80s, temporary housing in Koriyama, August 19, 2011)

The tsunami washed everything away. I saw three people swept away. I felt so terrified. (A woman in her 70s, temporary housing in Kesenmura, August 19, 2011)

I love playing soccer. But I haven’t played at all because we’re on a break now. All my friends have gone away somewhere, too. (An elementary school boy, temporary housing in Yamamoto, August 15, 2011)

Since I moved here, I’ve been bitten a lot by insects. It's so itchy. Arithmetic is my favorite subject. I have a lot of homework. Fortunately, yep, I’ve been able to go to school as should. (An elementary school girl, temporary housing in Yamamoto, August 15, 2011)


I am learning kendo (i.e. Japanese art of fencing). Inkendo, to get men-point, you hit here (pointing at his head), and to get kote-point, you hit here (pointing at his wrist). My father who is a firefighter and my grandpa also practice kendo. My father holds a fifth-dan(grade) in kendo, but since the tsunami occurred, he hasn’t been able to practice at all. I also practiced kendo about three times a week before, but I can practice it only once a week now. The number of friends who practice with me has decreased from six to three. I want to become a firefighter or a member of the Japanese self-defense force in the future. (An elementary school boy, temporary housing in Yamamoto, August 16, 2011)

My husband died in temporary housing a month ago, because I think he had a mental stress out of the tsunami. Actually he died of a disease. Yes, I’m all right. (A woman in her 70s, Yamamoto, August 31, 2011)

My house and shop were remained.  But in my neighborhood more than 10 people died because they failed to escape from tsunami. I saw tsunami was coming. First I thought of escaping by car but I thought it’s too late. Therefore we all ran up to the second floor hastily with some neighbors. And we survived. (Man in his 60s, Yamamoto temporary housing, September 1st, 2011)

My grandchild is a kindergarten student. He is comparatively all right because he didn’t actually see the tsunami. But when he comes to the temporary housing, he asked me, ”Won’t tsunami come here?” and said to me, ”When I build a house, I will build a house which will not be broken by an earthquake.” Moreover, when he plays with building blocks, he is very careful not to fall them down. I hear the Children who were swallowed up by tsunami draw pictures which there are many dead bodies in the sea.(Woman in his 50s, Yamamoto temporary housing, September 2nd, 2011)

Last year, I was hit by a car while walking my dog; my dog died and I survived. This time, my son was washed away and I survived. He died leaving his child. I feel empty here (indicating his chest). I miss him. A volunteer who came here the other day looked just like my son, especially from behind, I was surprised feeling as if my son returned. (Man in his 70s, Kesennuma temporary housing, August 26th, 2011)


I happened to be at a flower shop in Tome city (Miyagi pref.) on the earthquake day. I rushed to go home, but the tsunami came while I was caught in a traffic jam. If I had gone home, I would have killed by the tsunami. Thinking about the future, I feel like I will lose my mind. I don’t know what to do first. I lost everything. (Woman in his 50s, Kesennuma temporary housing, August 26th,2011)

I was born in the Taisho Era (1912 -1926). I lost my only son by the tsunami. I survived because I was in a hospital. I have a difficult time, but I can’t say so, because my neighbors lost more of their loved ones. (Woman in his 80s, Yamamoto temporary housing, August 30th, 2011)

Picture of Sharon Corologos
Re: ROAD vol.9 Evacuees' Short Comments
by Sharon Corologos - Thursday, 20 September 2012, 11:02 PM
I'm so glad this site continues to post these comments and memories, because it is easy, with all that is happening in the world, for me to forget about the human faces and voices of this tragedy. Each time I log onto this site, I am reminded why I admire the Japanese character so.