We Don’t Cry-Meaning of being Japanese in This Disaster

March 17, 2011 Juju Kurihara 1 Comment

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear-plant explosion, the triple disaster has rocked Japan literally. 


Now all the world is concentrated on Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This is a huge problem but this is one of other problem. Meanwhile in the north, Touhoku region, people are waiting for the food, blankets or water, but they seem to be pushed aside before nuclear.

give us food sos


It's been nearly a week and Japanese government hasn't organized much about aids to the shelters. 

People have written "FOOD", "1000 BLANKETS" on the ground and hoping for the help.

Another thing is that on the TV we can see all horrible images of Tsunami and destroyed nuclear plants but hardly see individual face of the people in the shelter. There are many people longing to find out their family's faces and see them. But all we see is the interview with Tokyo Electricity or the Tsunami is wiping out Touhoku cities.



This is a comedian duo, Sandwich Man.

On the day of earthquake, they happened to be in Kesen-numa in Miyagi for a filming. They were lucky enough to go up to a higher place (about 250m) but what they saw soon after was infernal, they wrote after in their blog.

Now they are promoting to help people in Touhoku Area, not only collecting donation but also they speak what really needed in the devastated area. Before most of the TV stations only showed the aftermath, smashed houses, people being carried to the shelter or a woman standing with a lost look. All the images were the view as an outsider. Sandwich Man accused the government and TV station for slow support to Touhoku region and for not showing people's faces in the shelter.

Also they stress on the lack of information to public. Even about the evacuation, there is no specific information such as to where, how, about old people etc.. Both of those who are in the devastated area and are outside of the area are trying to get exact information. Even I am not sure what to believe…

listen to the radio


Sandwich Man's call is working. Now I see some TV stations has small sections in between the news and there people appear one by one to tell their worried family that they are safe or to ask people their missing family.


Today, on the 17th of March, Edano Chief Cabinet Secretary announced that finally they have started to take care of aid matter to Touhoku region. Now… isn't it a little late? Japanese Self-Difence Force is on the mission, has cleaned up some ports and roads for the aid ship to be able to come in. 


Japanese people are generally quite patient people and don't often express their feeling like Western people. Comparing to Latin people, we are almost emotionelss. Some people have asked me " in this terrible situation, why almost no one is crying?"

crying woman


Japanese people don't tend to cry when they are in a difficult situation but cry for relief, joy or for someone else.

This woman started crying when a volunteer handed her a sweet bread.


I saw in the news, an old woman started crying when she called out to a missing grandson who is 6 and is about to start primary school in April. She sobbed out that he has to be alive to go to the school because he waited it so long.


Even my mother who has been alone in the tilted house without gas or water for nearly a week says everyday that she is OK. Up to now, I haven't seen or hear people are complaining apart from the frustration towards unclear Tokyo Electricity. Japan is a collective society, this is one of the distinguished character of Japan. People live for all before one itself. Under the circumstances like this, people get together for recovery believing another miracle. They recovered from two atomic bombs, WWII, many earthquakes and tsunami, why not this time? 

washing foodqueue for food








In the devastated area, without much support from the government, people are helping each other. Children in group go to find some food from the mud and wash them. If there is a ration from the volunteers, people queue. None of them are fighting for their turn. Even in the hospital, people wait for their turn outside where the snow is falling.


queue for socksqueue for socks 2









This is the queue for pair of socks. Here is the same, people are waiting for their turn.

Robbery isn't common in the devastated area, even though they have no food, no one attacks the supermarkets. This is quite impressive. 

According to a psychologist, this is the characteristic of collective society. In this type of society people don't rob because they are suffering, but when their family or loving one starts suffer, it's possible that they rob for the family.


An old man broke in tears for those who couldn't survive.

1 Comment

  1. Hello.This article was really fascinating, particularly because I was searching for thoughts on this topic last Monday.

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