Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stories from Japan

This is my father's much younger brother, Uncle Hiroshi.  This photo was taken a few years ago when he came to visit in LA.
He is in his 70's.

Anyway, when the earthquake hit, he was in Shibuya, which is like the major shopping area of Tokyo.  He had some of his paintings being exhibited in a gallery there. 

Since the trains were stopped, he had no way to get home.  I've taken the train from Tokyo to his home in Saitiama.  It takes a hour by train.

He decided he had no choice but to walk home.  It is twenty miles.  I don't know how much of it is uphill. 

It took him ten hours.  He did not get home until the next morning. 

But what stamina!  What willpower it must have taken to keep walking.  And did I mention he's in his 70's?

I am so impressed.  He is okay and his house and the other Uncles and Aunt's houses in Saitama seem to be okay.

This reminds me of a story that my mother told us that I may/may not be remembering 100% correctly. 
During WWII, my mother was just a little girl.  There was a bombing and the power went out and just like Uncle Hiroshi she was stuck somewhere and had no choice but to walk home from Tokyo to Itabashi (about half the distance to Saitama about 10 miles away)


Anyway, she walked along the railroad route since that is the only way she knew to get home.
And the soldiers at the time, were using the railroad stations as the place where dead bodies were collected.  So she walked from station to station, each one with rows and rows of dead bodies. 

She also told me the story of how during the war, they were very low on supplies.  Half of the schoolday she would be sent to work in a factory to make shoes (out of PAPER!).  Yeah, bet those were sturdy.   She remembers they had very little food, but one day a package arrived from her pen pal from the "Inaka" the countryside.  She tore it open to find the penpal had sent her canned tangerines! Such a delicacy.  Probably worth their weight in gold at the time.

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