Japan earthquake ends family vacation

Home safe, Victoria woman worries for family in Japan

Mami Takahashi with her two children

Mami Takahashi with her two children

On March 11, Mami Takahashi was visiting her mom and maternal grandparents in Nagoya, Japan with plans to join her father and paternal grandparents in Sendai soon.

When she first felt the shaking in the afternoon, she thought it was just jet lag. But as people started running out of the buildings around her, she realized this was an earthquake of a magnitude more serious than the ones she was used to growing up in Sendai.

“I looked around, and there was so many things that could fall on us,” she said, recalling the eventful walk with her five-month old daughter and six-year-old son.

Through news reports, she learned the rest of her family was in danger, nearest the quake’s epicentre. Over and over they tried calling, but couldn’t get through.

“We were glued to the TV … One of the first scenes in Sendai was close to my parents’ house where the old Japanese inn crumbled into pieces,” she said, from her Fairfield home, while cradling her youngest in her arms.

Finally, at 8 p.m., Takahashi learned her father was safe through the emergency message line. By midnight, Takahashi’s aunt in Sendai managed to bicycle to her grandparents’ house, and sent a message letting the family know they were also OK.

At first, she was hopeful she’d find a way to Sendai to be reunited with her family.

“By day three, some news crew was able to get into the Sendai train station, and when I saw that image, I thought …  OK, there’s no way I would bring my children to that site,” Takahashi said. “I was sad … I was so close but all the access to Sendai was shut down … It was very unreal. We are on the same island – not such a big island – yet there is this big wall that prevented us from helping.”

While her family’s houses survived the quake, they were without running water, electricity or heat, but had enough vegetables and water bottles to sustain them. Neighbours created a network to let each other know which gas station and grocery stores had supplies.

“My grandmother usually doesn’t whine but she kept saying, ‘I just want to take a bath, it’s cold in the house’,” Takahashi said. “My dad said ‘Don’t worry about us, worry about the people in shelters.’”

Close to Takahashi’s heart are the mothers in shelters with young babies, like herself.

Shock prevented many of them from producing milk, she explained. “They had to share a bottle in the shelter and they didn’t have formula so they diluted sports drink … It’s very frustrating, why those necessary items cannot be delivered to that area.”

At the urging on her father and her husband in Victoria, Takahashi and her children flew home on March 18.

“I’m very happy to be back so I can be useful,” she said, adding she is helping with fundraising efforts. “Right now, the thing we can do is make donations.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

 

Mark your calendar: Support Japan 2011

Performers for Saturday’s fundraiser organized by the Japanese community have been finalized. Come to Hillside Mall, centre court, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a free family event. It’s about teaching people about the country they’re helping to rebuild, explained lead organizer Mike Abe.

Cultural performances include taiko drumming, koto (harp), shakuhachi (flute), shamisen (three-stringed instrument), children’s choir, and Minyo folk singers, Furusato folk dancers. Victoria singer Ryan Narciso will also perform Tears at my Door, composed for Japan by two local songwriters, and uploaded to Youtube with about 30,000 views (www.youtube.com/user/ryannarcisomusic).

T-shirts in support of Japan will be on sale for $10.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Family wants investigation into man’s 1981 death while in Victoria police custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found hanging in his jail cell

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read