buji desu ka?

the first time i cried after the earthquake and tsunami was that first night, when i was watching tv. it wasn’t during news coverage, or during an interview, or while watching images of the devastation or horror.

one of the public tv stations was airing simple announcements. they were messages, called in by viewers. at that time, there was no phone service available in eastern japan, because of the heavy use. phone calls just couldn’t go through, and there was no way to reach people, especially those in the disaster area. so the tv station aired messages for survivors, or in some case from survivors.

they said the name of person sending the message, and the name of the recipient. and then the message itself. most were almost the same:

buji desu ka? (are you safe) renranku kudasai. (please contact us).

on and on, the tv announcer read these messages, as the words also scrolled down the screen. name after name, people trying to reach their loved ones, repeating the phrase: buji desu ka? renraku kudasai.

tears rolled down my face, as i waited until it was late enough in my mother’s time zone to call and tell her about this disaster that had happened in japan, but that i was safe.


About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.


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