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Remembering the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami

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Remembering the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami

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Last Wednesday, March 11th, marked the four-year anniversary of Japan’s devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.  In this special edition of This Week in Toku Actor Blogs, The Tokusatsu Network’s Kuni Komiyama and Robin Caine commemorate the anniversary by sharing their personal experience in addition to the responses from various tokusatsu actors.


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In addition, as reported last year by the Tokusatsu Network
, director, Koichi Sakamoto and writer,Yuji Kobayashi, revealed during a special talk at Tokyo University, Bandai had told staff members to use space as a theme for Kamen Rider Fourze, which aired in September of 2011. However, it was producer Tsukuda who brought in the school setting and the friendship theme. The Tōhoku earthquake had such a large scale effect on the population and he wanted kids to go out and make some friends.


From Lead Translator, Kuniharu Komiyama:

It woke me up.

I was living in Ikebukuro and working evenings at an Okinawan restaurant in Shinjuku, so I was normally asleep at that time.

My train of thought [when the earthquake occurred was] “Huh?! Oh, this one is big. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this… That is long… What the hell?! WHAT THE HELL?!”

It was the first time in a very long time I feared for my life. It was still cold and I had an electric heater on. I remember grabbing a coat and turning it off and then running downstairs from the third floor, I could hear the fear in my breath.

Many other people had done the same. They were outside, looking startled, in their bed things.

Then it struck me. If this gets any worse, the phone lines are going to explode.

I immediately dialed home to Mexico and let my mother know there had been an earthquake and that I was fine. And then the second quake came.

It was horrible. The metal structures holding the train cables were violently shaking and the metallic screeching sound they made was something nightmarish. I saw a couple of people actually losing their balance.

After things calmed down, I tried calling work to ask what to do, but the lines were flooded by then. I walked for half an hour to Ikebukuro station. I now understood what the news meant by “the city is paralyzed.” Hundreds and hundreds of people trying to call their offices and families. Endless queues in front of payphones. The giant screen at the electronics shop surrounded by people with a wide range of expressions. I join them and watch in horror as a NHK helicopter flew over the Sendai area with the tsunami ravaging everything in real time. My throat burned and my eyes watered.

However, what came afterwards was beautiful.

A little izakaya (Japanese pub) next to the station had put out a big tea container and another big sake container. Two young men were offering them for free to people. Another older man was calling people around, “Let’s smile now!” and “It will be alright, people, smile!”

The following days with the nuclear plant disaster were grey at the very best, but that little flicker of light I saw that day had done the trick and kept me going.

So, those of us who were able to keep going should remember those who departed on that day. Remember them and never forget them.


From Translator, Robin Caine:

I remember just arriving back to Hawaii after a two week stay in Japan the day it happened. I gave my host family a call because I wanted to let them know that I had arrived safely back home. I told them that I did not want to bother them because of the big time difference but they insisted that I did.

They were not picking up however. I didn’t think much of it until I noticed other people who got off the same plane. I then started frantically trying to make a phone call. That is when my heart started feeling heavy. I opened my phone again to try and reach my family only to find that nobody was picking up.

Then I looked up at the news channels that were airing on the televisions to find out what really happened.

There weren’t many things I could do, I have never felt panic like this ever in my life. Even if I was not in Japan at the time, my connection to my family there was invaluable. It felt like just yesterday that everything was fine.

There weren’t much I could do but to wait… and wait.

I remember returning to class. Instead of sitting at our desks, we decided to sit on the floor close to each other and every Japanese exchange student shared their losses and remembering their dear family and friends.

Featured Image Credit: USA Today

Translator and interpreter among other things. A not so engaged yet passionate tokusatsu fan.

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