With Love to Japan

March 14, 2011


By: Nicole Cleary
“Floating Gold”

This past, Friday, March 11 there was a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit northern Japan, generating a tsunami that has caused extensive damage.  My brother, who has been living near Tokyo for over five years with his wife and kids, was caught in Tokyo the day it happened.  A few days ago he wrote this note on Facebook about his experience. I wanted to post it on my blog because I admire his ability to embrace a moment while still being proactive. It’s not that everyone should or should not feel this way; it’s just a different way of looking at things. It’s difficult to have a light heart in the midst of chaos and when everything looks and feels grim, but I find the ability to be able to grab light-heartedness from anywhere you can, an amazing ability. I appreciate his perspective and hope that when faced with traumatic events, I can too, be calm and embracing all whilst being steady, focused, and proactively determined.

I have posted this with LoVe to Japan.

28 Kilometers….

By Cecil- on Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 6:54am

….That is the distance that I walked from Tokyo (Roppongi) to Yokohama (Aobadai).   The quake hit about 245 Tokyo time while I was in a meeting with a client.   I felt it first, ignored it, kept feeling and called his attention.  We stopped, waited…listened…and felt.  The ground swelled.  We went outside and found a bunch of people kind of meandering about, looking at each other for confirmation of what everyone was thinking, “is this the big one?”  The ground kept shaking for about 6 minutes, with intermittent ground swells.

People started screaming.  I made my way to the highest ground I could find with no electric cables around and just enjoyed the ride.  I figured if this was the big one, it would be my only chance to participate in this AWESOME experience….so I might as well enjoy it.  Hahaha.  Every time I felt the ground swell, I was like “Yeah! Baby!”…and then I looked over at this huge office building and stopped cold, watching it sway back and forth as if rocked by a breeze. The quaking stopped.  I stood for awhile and just enjoyed the moment.  I had tried calling my wife, but line was totally dead.  Although the biggest I had ever felt in my 10 years in Japan, I did not feel it was big enough to inflict major damage in Tokyo.  Also, the way it built up gradually, it provided enough warning for people to move and get to safety, if they had a clear head.   In any case, I simply did not FEEL (in my spirit) that my family was in danger.

I went back to my meeting, excited and even a bit…disappointed…that the big one was not so big.  And then, about 5 minutes later, another one.  We darted outside again, and met the same group of neighbors, this time a bit more panicked.   The lady next door came out in her bathrobe.  I was like, “Cool.”:)   hahaha.   This time was not as strong but combined with the experience of the first, it felt just as big…standing on the ground, like I was surfing on a wave. Kawabunga dude!

After this quake, we decided to head to safer ground and walked to Aoyama cemetery.  I thought to myself, “Best place to go if we are going to die”…laughed to myself and then thought, “that’s not funny” hahaha.  (Actually, i said it to the lady next door who had changed from her bathrobe into jeans and was heading the same direction. She laughed as well, but then kind of stopped and gave me an odd look…hahahaha! I deserved it.  ANYHOW….)

When we got to the cemetery, people were gathered there and in the street, talking, texting, being scared and surprised.  My client and I finished our meeting standing…and took a snap shot to commemorate the event:  “3/11/11 at 3pm – The big one”

My next meeting was at 4 pm in Daikanayam.  I was still thinking to go but was going to be late; Trains were not running and all the phones were still dead.  I had about 5 meetings that day and was just going to stay in the city and have my meetings and hope that the trains would be running when I was ready to head home at night. I realized that I could still text, so I text my wife to see if she was ok.  She was fine and went to pick up my son, Cecil Jr., from pre-school.

But, then I stopped and thought for about 4 minutes…”what if this was just a warning?…What if this was NOT The big one and it was coming tonight?  Then it hit me, I need to get home ASAP because I have no idea what will be coming tonight and if I will be able to get home.  Then I started to survey the damage, and it occurred to me that in the worst case scenario, I might not be able to make it back home and my wife would be stuck with the kids.  That single thought was the trigger.  I decided to go home.

I thought to take a bus, but the line for the bus was about 1hr long.  Shibya was 20 min away on foot.  Decision: walk.

When I got to Shibuya station, it was flooded with people, lines everywhere and nothing was moving.  I did not know what I was going to do, but waiting in those lines was not the solution.  So I started to walk in the direction of home, thinking that I would catch a taxi…then I SAW the traffic; no movement.  I was walking pretty quickly and noticed that I was passing busses…and taxies.   And slowly it dawned on me, there was only one way to get home: Walk.

So with my PC (actually Mac Book…do I get money for the product plug?:) on my shoulder and my Alberto Rossis (plug plug) on my feet, I pounded the pavement for about 30 kilometers (about 20 Miles) to get home.  I left Roppongi roughly around 4pm and delayed about 20 min to buy water and 2 pieces of bread, so the total trip took approximately 5 hours.  I walked mostly along the 246 highway at an average pace of 6 kilometers per hour.  I got a helluva’ workout, wrote some DOPE rhymes, got to walk ON the 246, and was able to grab some quality thinking time – all good!

When I got home, all was fine with the fam.  One room was pretty bad, but all in all, not a disaster at all.  My feet were swollen and blistered, ankles were out….but I was home and my family was together.  Can’t complain at all.

I heard that a friend’s dad made a similar 18mile walk in about 11 hours!  And a friend of mine who lives in the area, made roughly the same drive on the 246 in about 8 hours…and another friend walked about 20 Kilos in 7 hours!  I wonder if I set a record!?

Right now, as we have now prepared sufficiently for another quake and have a kit ready, clothes next to the door, ready to jam on a dime, I am trying to discern fact from fiction and decide when to get out of emergency mode.

Now, after seeing the news and seeing the magnitude of what has happened, I really feel for those who have lost everything.  At the same time, I am all the more grateful that my family is safe and aim to them this way.   Once I decide what the next move is, I will inform my network of the facts that I have gathered and the decision that I have made.


Food for all people

4 Responses to “With Love to Japan”

  1. Shanon said

    What an amazing story! I appreciate the honesty of his thoughts.

  2. thank you for giving eyes and ears to this horrific event

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