2011.07.01 update 2011.04 Iwaki City
In 2009, Gabriella fell in love with a Japanese guy who visited Hungary on his business.
Their love beyond the sea eventually bore a fruit as an international marriage.
Then Gabriella came to Japan from Budapest, Hungary in the summer of 2010.
"Wonderful nature of Iwaki impresses me so much. I often take a walk around. I love to see egrets living aside Shinkawa River."
Gabriella is such a cute woman talking about her life in Iwaki with her shining blue eyes.
Since the beginning of last March, she somehow felt uneasy without any reasons.
The night of March 10th, she couldn't sleep because of that feeling and took one hour walk along the riverside of Shinkawa.
On March 11, she woke up just as usual and went to the Japanese lesson in the morning. Coming home around noon, she lay down on her bed and began to read the Bible.
The earthquake occurred.
Gabriella ran to the kitchen to put a flower vase with a rose into the sink. Another big shake happened. She opened the door to the entrance hall, and put her body under the desk. Her room in the ninth floor of the apartment shook badly. Her body and the desk jolted side to side. "I have to get out of here." When the shake became weak, she got out from under the desk and grasped her bag, held the Bible with her chest, put her shoes on and got out of her room. She tried to call her husband at his office but couldn't get him on line. She locked the door and looked around the hall way. The lift was already out of use. She had to run down the stairs from the ninth floor. Her apartment kept shaking with unusual sounds.
"I could die here." The thought flitted across Gabriella's mind. "No." She cut off that thought and said to herself. "I'll be alright. This building is still new."
When she ran down to the ground, she could see many people gathering at the park.
The road was fissured, cars were stuck at the intersection without signal's lights, and utility poles were swaying like autumn grasses.
She ran to her Catholic church.
Her friends also gathered there. Gabriella was bit relieved. "It'll be OK as long as I'm here."
The TV showed terrifying disaster by Tsunami. She never felt like going back to her home alone.
She sent a text to her husband to tell him she would wait for him at church.
After coming home, she got into her bed with her daily clothes so that she could escape right away at anytime.
Her heart pounded every time she felt the shake. In the end, she saw the morning light without any sleep. The day after the disaster began.
Water supply was cut off. Neither telephone nor internet line was available. She kept TV on as it was only one way to get information for her. Once the nuclear accident in Fukushima was broadcasted, her family and friends overseas worried her so much and contacted her.
She and her husband decided "not to evacuate". Gabriella started to answer questions from Hungarian press and to send live information from Fukushima to overseas.
"We can see only the most terrific part from the distance.
So I decided to tell them the right information. I thought it was what I should have done here.
If alone, I would go back to Hungary. But now, I'm with my husband and he can always judge the situation in his mother tongue. Unless he gets afraid, I believe that I'm also alright. I still feel uneasy and did think of going back to my home country. But if I really do, I would worry my friends overseas more. Moreover, I have to separate with my husband and I cannot do anything for Iwaki. That surely makes me sick. So, I made up my mind to stay here as long as possible and do something with people in Iwaki."
After the several explosions at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, her friends who have children evacuated one after another from Fukushima prefecture. Seeing outside from the house, it was like a ghost town.
"How many people are still here in this apartment?
I could see only a few lights in the windows of apartment across the street. Few people walked along the street. It seemed everyone has already evacuated from this town.
I was relieved when I went out for getting water and saw some people there."
She always wore a mask for going out, and kept all the windows close at home. During that week, she stayed at home except when she watched outside from the balcony two or three times a day. Ventilation of the room was done only a few times a week.
Fortunately, she had enough food at home as she and her husband just went shopping at weekends before the calamity.
"It'll be OK as long as we have rice. We can survive with rice."
Gabriella was four years old when Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred in 1986.
Radioactive materials from Ukraine flied to Hungary as well. However, the government kept this fact away from Hungarian citizens and lost people's trust.
"Japanese people trust what their government says at first. Then they think and begin to criticize. On the other hand, Hungarian people take an opposite way. They doubt their government at first. Then they think and decide if they can rely on their government or not."
Gabriella has both ways of thinking.
"The radiation level has decreased so far and it might not be so dangerous to go out every day. Even though this accident hasn't been solved yet and we cannot feel relieved, I'm not thinking to evacuate right now. Plan and construction of nuclear power plant should be done with much more consideration for location and security because Japan has so many earthquakes. I'm not an expert, so I cannot criticize nuclear power. I would not take a position against nuclear power, either. It is so hard for us to live without electric power. However, new policy for electric supply should be taken in order to change nuclear power to natural energy. It would be better to use water or solar power instead of nuclear power."
Gabriella who decided to stay in Iwaki registered herself in the volunteer network. After supplying the food for evacuated people, she worked for removing rubbles along the seacoast. Then she faced the damage of Tsunami at the first time. Because of the huge gap of damage level in the same city, she couldn't know how to communicate with the people there. Feeling deep shock and sadness, she just kept working in silence.
On the other hand, this volunteer activity brought her a new gladness, too.
In such terrible disaster, cultural difference lost its meaning. Nobody treated her as a "foreigner" any more. At this point, Iwaki finally became a real "home" for her.
As time passed, people gradually came back to Iwaki, and everyone started going for recovery. However, in April 11, the big shake attacked Iwaki again.
This earthquake occurred at evening, coming with the dark clouds. The city of Iwaki got into the darkness at sudden.
"That's too enough."
"Effort for recovery was also seen in some areas damaged by Tsunami, but this shake pushed us back again to the place where we started."
Rain with radioactive materials kept falling outside the window. Light of thunder flashed. Terrific clap went off.
Tears ran down on her cheeks for the first time after 3.11.
Gabriella had a dream at that night.
"Take a good sleep tonight. You are so tired. I won't trouble you while you are sleeping tonight."
It was the Earth who talked to her.
She laughed at her childish dream, but at the next moment, she suddenly got a strong and clear conviction in her mind.
"There is a possibility that this earthquake would occur at anytime.
Nobody can say this would not happen again.
Issue of nuclear accident is in such a severe situation now, but it might be solved someday.
However, the change of our planet never ends.
That is the fact.
We need to keep it in our mind to live in Japan. This is the way how Japanese people feel and think.
They can live on the coexistence of two ways of thinking: living their lives without too much worry, but at the same time, always being ready for taking shelter if something happens.
Now I can do the same.
I don't know how long I can live. I don't know what will happen tomorrow.
What I should do is to learn and grow myself in this difficulty, and just to go forward."
After a while, Gabriella went to see a famous waterfall cherry tree (Takizakura) in Miharu.
The Sakura tree was just in full bloom under the clear blue sky. It was just like a beautiful gift from God.
"Our hardship now will surely bloom beautifully like this Sakura when we overcome it."
She felt something bright coming up from the bottom of her heart.
(Translated by Shizuka Hayashi)