I had a lot of crazy classes during my time working as an English conversation teacher in Japan, but without doubt the most rewarding and enjoyable was the one with steelworkers at a Toho Corporation office. Every Wednesday eight burly Japanese men would join me, resplendent in hard hats and overalls, in a nondescript company classroom for an hour of (possibly dreaded) English tuition.
One of these men, Kazu, has kept in touch with me by email in the time since, which is – gosh, more than three years now. In class he was the boisterous one, quick with jokes (in English as well as Japanese) and boasting an impressive vocabulary. On the page, he is decidedly less effusive. He continually expresses a lack of confidence in his English, no matter how much I tell him how good he is, and his short messages often include an apology for his poor grammar.
We have been in touch a little more frequently since the Tohoku earthquake of February. He lives in Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, so is not directly affected by the earthquake or nuclear fallout – at least, not yet. Yesterday, I received an email from Kazu that moved me deeply for various reasons. I asked him if I could reproduce it here, and – admittedly after some gentle coaxing – he agreed.
This may be meaningless to the rest of the world, but it is so meaningful to me. I am putting it here to give a sense of a regular Japanese guy’s outlook in the wake of the earthquake, and to just see if it resonates with anyone else.
Thank you for the mail and thinking of me.
About 7 months have passed since the earthquake and tsunami hit the northeastern coastal area in Japan.
There have been several facts reported about it. I was surprised to find out that the tsunami was estimated to have reached 38 meters in height.
This was the second biggest tsunami in history. The biggest one hit the same area in 1896.
Prime Minister of Japan announced his determination to reconstruct the devastated area into one of the most desirable places to live in the world.
I am very much interested in his plan, so I will follow it closely.
We still have many aftershocks every day. However, the life is getting back to normal in many ways,
although we worry about the effects of radioactive leaks in Fukushima Nuke Plants.
I wish everyone a safe and peaceful life.