On March 11 of 2011, there was a big earthquake during the afternoon. Its epicenter was off the northeast coast of Japan, but it was felt far and wide across Japan. Three things happened.
First, there was the shaking. Fortunately, however, most buildings in Japan are sturdily built. Everybody knows that earthquakes are common here, so there are standards that builders must follow. Therefore, not an incredibly huge amount of buildings toppled from the shaking. However, many buildings here in Tohoku (northern Japan) were partially destroyed or got cracked.
Second, there was a tsunami. This only affected people along the east coast in the northern half of Japan. I don’t live on the coast, so it did not affect me in any way. However, it cost many people their lives. The tsunami was much larger than anybody ever imagined would happen.
Third, the nuclear power plant melted down. Its location is in eastern Fukushima on the coast. The meltdown dispersed radiation and caused widespread panic. This affected me since I live in Fukushima City. I left with my son due to this event and stayed with my husband’s parents on the west coast.
For a lot of people, meltdown is a very scary word. And now Fukushima has become a very scary word. Meltdowns are, of course, scary and tragic, but don’t be scared. Fukushima is just a regular place where people live. I live here again now. Lots of kids live here. And we love it.
Is it safe? The radiation dispersed quite a bit and the level here in Fukushima City is pretty low. So I feel safe living here. However, the area near the power plant is no longer inhabited. Those people had to leave their homes immediately. Many of them still can not go back.
I want to teach about Fukushima. It’s no good pretending it didn’t happen. If the people of Fukushima can face this disaster with courage, then so can everybody else. We learn from our past, and we live for the future.
In the manuscript that I wrote, Haruka and her little brother live in Fukushima. They are normal kids with normal lives. But then disaster strikes. Haruka and her brother face it with courage. What exactly do they do and who exactly do they meet? It’s in the book!
If you want to read about the tsunami, please try the book that just came out: “Up From the Sea” by Leza Lowitz. Like me, she’s a momma in Japan. And an excellent writer.
Free image from illustrain.com