On Friday, March 11th, 2011, I was at a meeting with my general manager and colleagues checking some color lab dips submitted by our oversea fabric vendors. We were discussing whether it was acceptable or not if a lab dip didn’t hit our color standard. To be honest, our minds were probably out of sorts a bit because it was Friday afternoon and some of us may have been dreaming of “after work activities in Tokyo”. Everything was going as usual at our office until 2:46 PM.
Suddenly, a massive 9.0 earthquake hit us.
I hid under a table in the meeting room. The office building shook really badly because we were on the 22nd floor of the building near Tokyo port. Chairs and tables on casters were moving around in the room. I grasped my colleague’s arm out of fear, and cried. I seriously thought I was going to die. I experienced something like flashbacks to people who I really wanted to see before I died. Needless to say, it was definitely the biggest and longest earthquake I have ever experienced in my life. The office became a mess in a moment.
I wanted to call my family right away to let them know I was safe, but I realized there was no phone service available. A few hours later, I was finally able to talk to my parents and brother over the phone. I was happy to hear that they were safe as well. Soon after that, we realized there was no way to leave for home because all the transportation systems were suspended. Some people decided walk home in the confusion while others, like myself, decided to sleep in the office until the next morning. A lot of people walked miles and miles. At the office, we were afraid we would have anything to eat, but luckily our company was able to provide us with some oden. We were originally planning to serve it at a party in the coming week, but it wound up as our emergency foods instead. We watched the breaking news on television showing footage of the terrible earthquake and tsunami disasters on the northeast cost of Japan not so far from Tokyo. It was really scary but I was reassured a little by being together with colleagues in the cafeteria at night.
That night as I was watching the huge fire at the Chiba refinery complex on the other side of the port from the window of our office, I couldn’t help but think of what I needed to accomplish during my lifetime.
We have been still suffering from extreme fear of aftershocks, radiations, blackouts, general rise in prices, and lack of essentials for life including food and water. Yet, we have to put it all in perspective when we think of how people on the northeast cost of Japan have been surviving an even more horrible situation right now. At the same time, I was amazed by the fact that most people here have kept calm and tried hard to get back to life as usual. The people of Japan are tough. Now, I am planning for how I can help the victims, also saving energy every day and installing new, high-tech clean energies into our life, so we can move away from dangerous nuclear power plants. Considering the geographical characteristics of Japan, we should always be ready for earthquakes and tsunamis. If this is the case, nuclear power can no longer be our choice for generating energy.
I am hoping that this little island will become even more beautiful and unique in the future.
Kei Ogasawara is a currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Communication and Culture at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.