The Great East Japan Earthquake: Ten Years On

On the afternoon of March 11th, 2011, a massive earthquake struck off the coast of Tohoku in northern Japan.

I was sitting at home in Okinawa, my newborn daughter sleeping nearby, when my husband called from somewhere in Southeast Asia.

A bird’s eye view of the destruction from the tsunami

“I can’t talk. We have to go. We’re heading to Sendai now.”

He would be among the first responders in what would become a massive humanitarian relief response to a disaster that claimed over 15,000 lives, with thousands more still listed as missing.

Aftermath of the tsunami

This year, more than others, I struggle to find the right words to mark this day.

Today, my husband is again in Tohoku, to commemorate and bear witness. To mark a tragic event, but to celebrate unexpected partnerships. To honor loss, and yet to share in the spirit of hope. Grief, recovery, rebuilding … all are a process. But ten years on, the resilience is evident. Time marches on … and so does Tohoku.

I wish you all a day of hope.

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