Surprise, Fear, Sympathy

It was 21 years ago when Great Hanshin Earthquake hit Western Japan. It was the first massive natural disaster I had “seen” in my home country. Thousands of people were killed, and I got to know many facts about the disaster. I was so surprised.

As I often write in this blog, Great East Japan Earthquake was the first massive natural disaster I have ever experienced. My place then was far from the “group of epicentres”, but it was so massive that it shook entire Eastern Japan. It was not only the biggest but also the longest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. I felt fear. The impact in my home city was not severe, but as the serious damage in the most affected areas were broadcast, we shared pain. It was on March 11, 2011. At the beginning of September, six months after the earthquake, I moved to Canada. But when I left Japan we still felt aftershocks frequently. It’s been five years since then, but I still cannot forget that feeling.

Last night, when I was watching a live TV news program, a big earthquake hit Kyushu, Southern Japan. The epicentre was very far from my current place and I didn’t feel any shaking. But the news program revealed the impact of the earthquake, little by little, and kept reporting a series of aftershocks. Now I feel sympathy. If I didn’t experience Great East Japan Earthquake, I might have been merely surprised. If pain is avoidable, it should be avoided. But knowing pain lets you feel other people’s pain.

What I can do for them now is… donation? My current place is close to one of the most sacred Shinto shrines, Atsuta Jingu. When I go to my office and come back, I always pass in front of that. Today, on the way home from work, I visited Atsuta Jingu and prayed for the casualties. I hope people in Kyushu will soon feel relieved and feel safe.

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