Human Spirit Rises To Meet Japan's Tsunami

Posted by Yuka Saionji on Mar 15, 2011
88617 reads  

[Amidst the tragedy of the quake, tsunami and the subsequent nuclear plant explosions, the narrative of hope can often get lost. However, below is a note from our friend in Japan, Yuka Saionji, followed by some truly heart warming moments of oneness that unfolded in the aftermath.]

March 11, 10:28PM PST

Dear Friends,
Thank you so so much for all your love, support and messages.  We experienced a big earth quake here in Tokyo too, but nothing compared to the northern parts of Japan.  I couldnt keep standing cause it was so big, and all I could do was just open the doors to secure our way out. 
All transportation stopped.  In many places electricity stopped, many things came down, buildings and roads broke too in Tokyo. But there was not any huge damage. Many people were stuck near their work places or forced to walk back home last night. Nothing moved. But even so, there was no confusion or panic. No one was screaming, every one was taking turns and was in line. No pushing or stealing or anything.... Many stores or restaurants offered people to stay, and people are here to support each other. We still have small earth quakes continuing in Tokyo but not a big problem. Many friends walked 5 to 6 hours last night by foot, but they all noted that people all walked peaceful, so quietly, so in order...  
During this time, I felt so lucky and full of gratitude ... that we know our prayers, our meditation, our love, our the truth and about oneness. During the big quake, all I was able to do was give gratitude to nature and to dear earth. There was no fear. But just feeling of oneness in what ever happens. 
Our organization includes over 20,000 people around Japan and we are working hard to contact everyone. But we know ... that no matter where they are they are in peace, sending love and prayers to people around them. Cause praying peace of the world and giving gratitude to nature is  the only thing we have been doing for the past decades. It makes me cry watching the news whats happening around in all over japan ... but knowing that is my hope and strength. 
Not only our members though, everyone around is trying to support and work together. In our circles, we always talk about working together ... perhaps crisis can give birth to new evolution. We are trying to send as much prayers, as much positive thoughts and action to help each other through this.  In Japan we feel so much support and energy from people all around the world and we are grateful.
Right now our biggest concern is the nuclear energy. And to make that stable.   In the Northern part of Japan, a whole town vanished because of the flood. But we have to still be careful of more earth quake and flood. But in any case, I wanted to say thank you and we are fine.
And I feel, all japanese people are working together strong to go through this.  We feel all prayers and energies. Thank you. 
May peace prevail on earth. 
Lots of love,
P.S.  Below are the some of the heart warming anecdotes that I've witnessed and heard from others ...

Someone overseas called me on my cell. She said she wanted to connect to anyone who is in Japan, and so she called the country code and their own mobile number, which happened to be the same as mine. I didn't fully understand everything she said, because it was English, but I knew enough to know that she really wanted to support the Japanese people.  It really gave me so much hope.
Last night when I was walking home (since all traffic had stopped), I saw an old lady at a bakery shop.  It was totally past their closing time, but she was giving out free bread.  Even at times like this, people were trying to find what they can do and it made my heart warm.
In the supermarket, where items of all the shelves fell, people were picking up things so neatly together, and then quietly stand in line to buy food. Instead of creating panic and buying as much as needed, they bought as little as they needed.  I was proud to be a Japanese.
When I was walking home, for 4 hours, there was a lady holding a sign that said, "Please use our toilet."  They were opening their house for people to go to the restroom. It was hard not to tear up, when I saw the warmth of people.
At Disneyland, they were giving out candies. High school girls were taking so many so I was thinking, "What???"  But then the next minute, they ran to the children in the evacuation place and handed it to them. That was a sweet gesture.
My co-worker wanted to help somehow, even if it was just to one person.  So he wrote a sign: "If you're okay with motor cycle, I will drive you to your house."  He stood in the cold with that sign. And then I saw him take one gentleman home, all the way to Tokorozawa!  I was so moved. I felt like I wanted to help others too.
A high school boy was saved because he climbed up on top of the roof of a department store during the flood. The flood came so suddenly, that he just saw people below him, trying to frantically climb up the roof and being taken by the flood.  To help others, he kept filming them so their loved ones could see.  He still hasn't been able to reach his own parents but he says, "Its nobody's fault. There is no one to blame. We have to stay strong."
There is a lack of gas now and many gasoline stations are either closed or haave very loooong lines. I got worried, since I was behind 15 cars. Finally, when it was my turn, the man smiled and said, "Because of this situation, we are only giving $30 worth gas per each person. Is that alright?"  "Of course its alright.  I'm just glad that we are all able to share," I said.  His smile gave me so much relief.
I saw a little boy thanking a public transit employee, saying, "Thank you so much for trying hard to run the train last night."  It brought tears to the employee's eyes, and mine.
A foreign friend told me that she was shocked to see a looong queue form so neatly behind one public phone. Everyone waited so patiently to use the phone even though everyone must have been so eager to call their families.
The traffic was horrible!! Only one car can move forward at green light. But everyone was driving so calmly. During the 10 hour drive (which would only take 30 minutes normally) the only horns I heard was a horn of thank you. It was a fearful time -- but then again a time of warmth and it made me love Japan more.
When I was waiting at the platform, so tired and exhausted, a homeless person came to us and gave us a cardboard to sit on.  Even though we usually ignore them in our daily life, they were ready to serve us.
Suntory (a juice company) is giving out free drinks, phone companies are  creating more wi-fi spots, 1,000,000 noodles were given by a food company, and everyone is trying to help the best way they can.  We, too, have to stand up and do our best.
Whenever there is a black out, people are working hard to fix it. Whenever the water stops, there are people working to fix that too.  And when there is problem with nuclear energy, there are people trying to fix that too. It doesn't just fix itself.  While we are waiting to regain the heat in the cool temperature or have running water, there were people risking their life to fix it for us.
An old woman said, on a train: "Blackouts are no problem for me.  I am used to saving electricity for this country, and turning off lights. At least, this time we don't have bombs flying over our heads.  I'm willing to happy to shut off my electricity!" Everyone around couldn't say a word in response.
When I grow older, I am going to tell my children and grandchildren, "When your grandma was young, there was a big earth quake in Japan which brought the world to one. And everyone worked so hard to help support each other and everyone was shining.  To be able to tell that story, I'm going to work hard in rebuilding that work.
In one area, when the electricity returned, peopel rejoiced.  And then someone yelled: "We got electricity because someone else probably conserved theirs!  Thank you so much to EVERYONE who saved electricity for us.  Thank you everyone!"
In Korea, a Japanese man got a cab ride and when it was time to pay, the driver refused and said: "You are Japanese, yes?"  Yes.  "When you go back to Japan, please donate the fee." Beyond nationality or politics, we are all the same.

My 10-year-old son, with tears in his eyes, handed his piggy bank to me, saying: "I don’t care if I cant buy my comic books, I want to save japan!!"

I told my parents, who are living at the evacuation center, to come to Chiba where I live. And they got mad at me. My Dad said, "There are people who sustained far more damage than us, and they are not leaving. We certainly can't leave!  I will come to your place when we finish reconstruction here. So you do what you can from where you are."

I saw a man at the evacuation center crying when people brought food to him. It was the first time in 3 days that the food was brought to their center. But his next words surprised me. "I am very grateful that we are provided with food. But, but, the city next to us they are not receiving any food at all. Please go to that center as well."
An old man at the evacuation shelter said, "What's going to happen now?"  And then a young high school boy sitting next to him said, "Don’t worry!  When we grow up, we will promise to fix it back!"  While saying this, he was rubbing the old man's back. And when I was listening to that conversation, I felt hope. There is a bright future, on the other side of this crisis.
Update: March 16, 2010
There has been so much fear going around, that my heart is aching. When we start to see the world with fear, we forget to see the important things in life.  Every moment is precious, every moment is the only gift (present) we have, and we simply cannot afford to waste it all on fear-filled despair.
A friend who is now living in the evacuation center told me how important it is to smile. And that his smile seemed to heal people around him. He lost his house, he doesn't know what his future will be ... but he still remembers to smile.   Some may say, its not right to smile or laugh during this time, but I really respect the power of his courage.  Not only smile, we must retain our humor too.  In Japanese, humor is translated as "to laugh in spite of...". 
Today, people everywhere are talking about nuclear radiation.  It could get in the air, the soil, the food.   People are holding themselves with such dark, scared faces.  So I went around giving the biggest smile and saying, “Its a sunny day today!”  They smiled back, and I'm sure some might've thought I was crazy, but I saw beauty in their smiles.  So much better than scary faces.
On my walk back home, I saw a beautiful flower.  We have tried to use all our merits and even nature's energy, for our own benefit and that has created all this scarcity and madness.  All of us can now try to run away from radiation, but what of this flower?   I bent down to the flower and just felt moved to say, "I am so sorry."  
If we are able to stop and step back from fear, even just a little bit, we can see so much more.  I hope we don’t forget love, gratitude, acceptance, harmony and oneness.  I hope we can keep reminding that to each other, cause, you know ... I may forget too.


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Comments (71)

  • Ladda wrote ...

    A heart-warming story from the Apple Store in Tokyo ...

    I work at Apple at one of its stores in Japan. The earthquake hit while I was working on the first floor of one of their stores. As the entire building swayed, the staff calmly led people from the top 5 floors down to the first floor, and under the ridiculously strong wooden tables that hold up the display computers.

    7 hours and 118 aftershocks later, the store was still open. Why? Because with the phone and train lines down, taxis stopped, and millions of people stuck in the Tokyo shopping district scared, with no access to television, hundreds of people were swarming into Apple stores to watch the news on USTREAM and contact their families via Twitter, Facebook, and email. The young did it on their mobile devices, while the old clustered around the macs. There were even some Android users there. (There are almost no free wifi spots in Japan besides Apple stores, so even Android users often come to the stores.)

    You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on? In this digital age, that's what the Tokyo Apple stores became. Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones. Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.

    Anyway, I mention this not because I work at Apple now, or because I'm an admitted fanboy, but because I'm genuinely proud of the Apple Japan staff and their willingness to stay open to help people that day. And I'm also impressed with the way Apple's products (and yes, Google's, Twitter's, and Facebook's) helped them that day. Even after we had to close, many of the staff stayed outside the store to fixing iphones and teaching people how to contact family or stay informed via wifi.

    Because the trains and phones were down, almost everyone who worked in Tokyo was stranded deep in the city. All the hotels were booked, the roads were jammed, so hundreds of people were instantly homeless. Apple told all of their staff - Retail AND Corporate - that they could go sleep at the Apple stores. The Senior managers at the stores had been notified earlier and unbeknownst to us, had gone out to stock up on food and drinks after the very first quake hit.

  • Alan Zulch wrote ...

    Dear Yuka,
    You and your family have been in my thoughts many times since the quake. I'm so glad to hear that everyone is fine. Your stories of generosity bring a wide smile of gratitude that you are there to witness and participate, and share, this experience.

    The world is learning from Japan even as we weep for what everyone is going through.

  • Nita Luthria wrote ...

    My prayers are with the Japanese. What an incredible people! Makes even the gentlest of us feel so humble and boorish. Nam myoho renge kyo (Buddhist chant)

  • Ghulam Haqqani wrote ...

    Dear Japanies,
    My love and heart is with you.
    may God give more strength and unity to your loving and caring paople. Really this a time to so the whole world , how strong and hard working arr you.

    By reading the above article my heart is ful of joyness and having very touching feeling to you.

  • CM Stella wrote ...

    Dear Yuka ,
    Me and my friend have been praying to the Almighty for you and Japan to overcome this situation , I am sure with this great spirits you will stand strong once again.
    I too wish for my country Malaysia to learn from this calamity !
    Japan you have done it before you will do it AGAIN!

  • Suganya-India wrote ...

    Our sincere prayers be with our brothers and sisters of Japan.May the almighty give you the extra courage and energy to face this situation.

  • Kartheeban wrote ...

    Wow! What a great post! I love Japan and Japanese people. The entire world need to learn a lot from them! My prayers for them!

  • kelly wrote ...

    WHAT A HUMBLE COUNTRY! Keeping you in my prayers.....

  • Nikhil wrote ...

    My prayers are for all who suffered in the quake and Tsunami. I wish speedy recovery for the injured and normalcy of all the utilities. I am trying to figure out God's message/plan in this calamity (humans call it so).My faith in HIM is not shaken yet.

  • Francis wrote ...

    We are all with you in heart and mind to face and overcome the present ..I really admire your patience a testimony to this world God Bless You

  • Stella wrote ...

    The whole world is watching; may we all learn a lesson from the People of Japan. Stay strong - as the little boy said - we all promise to fix it back.

  • K.C. Ng wrote ...

    Unity in adversity- even the gods must be moved to tears. Japan and Yuka, we salute you. Thank you for this powerful lesson in humanity

  • Conrad P. Pritscher wrote ...

    As Gandhi said: "If you want to make someone happy, be compassionate. If you want to be happy, be compassionate."

  • Tricia wrote ...

    I can't help but think what chaos would ensue in the US should such a horrible thing take place here. The Japanese have shown such grace and patience in the midst of such horror - hopefully we could learn a thing or two and be more patient and compassionate in our day to day lives.

  • Victoria wrote ...

    Thank you, people of Japan! You are helping all of us around the world to open our hearts and connect with our own compassion. We in the United States send our love to you and to all people everywhere going through these changes! We're all in this together and love is always the answer.

  • Amit wrote ...

    Amid the silent corpses a baby cried out—and Japan met its tiniest miracle: [View Link]

  • Sherry wrote ...

    The Japanese people are grace under fire. Your hearts are big and your patience demonstrates the best of human kindness. Let us all learn from this experience and share what we can with others. Love and kindness is the greatest gift we have to give.

  • doona wrote ...

    i live far from you and yet i am there close with you in my heart.

  • Aniket wrote ...

    I salute Japanese people for their spirit. According to me, for Japan - rehabilitation is habit. The people there have more courage than anybody else in world. My prayers are there with all Japanese to help them recover fast. @Yuka - you are doing wonderful work by highlighting present situation of Japan to the world. God bless you all.

  • Pat wrote ...

    thank you for sharing these beautiful stories Yuka. You and all the Japanese people and their families living all over the world are in our thoughts and prayers every day - bless you all.

  • Alan wrote ...

    A thoughtful letter from Sendai, by Anne Thomas ...   Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful. During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets. It's utterly amazingly that where I am there has been [...] See full comment.

    A thoughtful letter from Sendai, by Anne Thomas ...  

    Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

    During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

    It's utterly amazingly that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."

    Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

    We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

    There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

    Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

    And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

    They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend's husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

    Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

    Thank you again for your care and Love of me,

    With Love in return, to you all,


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  • Hafeez wrote ...

    Looting is something we see after almost every tragedy; for example: last year's earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the floods in England in 2007, and of course Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. It happens when some people who've seen life as they know it get tossed out the window feel that all morality has been tossed out too. It's survival of the fittest and whatever you can get your hands on is yours, no matter who it belongs to.
    But that's not happening in Japan.  Instead supermarkets cut their prices in the days following the quake and how vending machine owners were giving out free drinks as "people work together to survive." And West was most surprised by the fact that there was no looting.  
    Why?  CNN asked a few people ... "because Japanese culture is based on honor and dignity", "National pride", "Japanese are resourceful", "I was blessed to visit Japan several years ago on business and was told that if I lost my wallet in downtown Tokyo that the person who found it would make it their mission to return it to me in tact."

  • Nancy Korda wrote ...

    The Japanese people are full of grace and dignity. My good thoughts go to each and every one of them. Blessings!

  • Shalini Sharma wrote ...

    I pray for a speedy recovery to Japan - my heart goes out to all that suffered in this disaster. Salute to Japanese people for their integrity and grace.

  • Yasmin wrote ...

    This story and all of the comments remind me of what Life is really about. I have seen the same selfless giving and sharing after a flood in America and a hurricane in Hawaii. The Japanese people are rising to their true dignity and generosity now. Our hearts hold you all and we pray for your well-being.

  • Joanne wrote ...

    I still cannot fathom the magnitude of the destruction in Japan! Our monetary donation doesn't seem to be enough ... we wish we could do more from across the ocean. Our prayers are with all those affected - I can say I am truly proud to be of Japanese heritage.

  • Donna wrote ...

    Thank you for sharing your uplifting story! I pray daily for the people of Japan who are living in the midst of this horrible disaster. Thank you for showing us that grace can abound even in the worst of situations! God bless you!

  • Helen Buck (Canada) wrote ...

    It brought tears to my eyes while I read this...I can't imagine what everyone is going through, however it brings great warmth hearing how people are compassionate and taking time to help each other out during these difficult times. Our prayers are with all the citizens of Japan.

  • Celina wrote ...

    What an amazing time for the world that through the great tragedy of the Tsunami in Japan, that we the world's people can learn more about courage, grace,dignity and honor that is being represented by the Japanese people and their culture. Everything they hold dear, their values, their integrity is exampled by the way they are are living life at this time. Their story is one of hope in a constantly changing world.God bless you all. A heartfelt thank you for all those risk takers who put their lives on the line to fix things in the midst of such a trying time. Salute.

  • Karen wrote ...

    My heart is breaking for Japan as I watch this tragedy unfold. I am completely humbled by the stoic and dignified way the Japanese people are bearing this. You are all an inspiration to the rest of the world, I hope we all learn from you.

  • Cheryl wrote ...

    We should all learn from the Japanese. They are graceful even in times of despair. The whole world is watching and praying and hoping you all have the strength to prevail over the incredible power of nature. This is a great post.

  • anantajay wrote ...

    The most wonderful sight of the Tusami earthquake was the people of Japan who took the entire episode in their stride with out any feeling of being a vindicted. I am sure Japan will bounce back as a great nation and remain a shinning example to all the people of the orld

  • Suhas Pola wrote ...

    Dear Yuka

    May God guide you, your nears & dears and all my japanees brothers & sisters. Sure, we are all confident Japan will come up like a finix.

    With lots of prayers


  • Kurby wrote ...

    You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

    Japan is indeed a strong nation, my prayer goes to each and every one of them.

  • Avinash wrote ...

    When the sky breaks, there is very little left for human being to do. But even then human being should not giveup. We all should standby Japan and its citizens. As an individual, I offer my willingness to adopt at least one Child from Japan to keep alive the spirit

  • jane brunette wrote ...

    I am so touched by this. Especially by what you said to the flower. It just made me cry. I am going to post to my own blog and send others to read your words. Thank you for acting as a bodhisattva--keeping your heart open and helping others to do the same. (my blog will be posted at if you want to see.)

  • Ravi Sheshadri wrote ...

    Dear Yuka and my dear Japanese friends,
    I have always been a great admirer of Japanese people, culture and products. in this time of non-thankfulness, corruptness, value only for self, the courage, discipline and non-fearful nature of Japanese people is admirable. I salute them.
    In the situation of personal loss also, people have been telling that nation is greater than me, community is greater than me, is just great culture. I salute you.
    In such a situation, maintaining discipline is not expected. But you are maintaining discipline. I salute you for that.
    You all have risen above fear, individual fear. You have come to know the strength of community living, and you are showing the world, especially the individualistic and materialistic west, that tsunamis can be managed this way also.
    The warmth people are showing to each other is immense.
    I am sure it will not take more than a month for Japan to wing over this human tragedy.
    With lots of love and regards for your grit
    Ravi Sheshadri

  • Agnes wrote ...

    Thank you for your most uplifting accounts of the beautiful Japanese people and how you have been reacting to this disaster. How heart warming it is to read these accounts. Since the disaster you have all been in my thoughts and prayers constantly and I know that Japan will recover, you are a strong and resilient people. I wish you all so much love and strength.

  • Joy wrote ...

    I am moved to tears at the courage, strength and integrity of the Japanese people. The model that you show us is so needed in the US. So many are in fear and panic and yet you show us how "to be". We are learning that what effects one, affects us all. We are learning to create "Peace Circles", which you have done for many years. Thank you for showing us the way and please feel our deep love and prayers for each of you.

  • Sunshine Ruth wrote ...

    One person with courage makes a Majority! The glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time you fall.Out of difficulties grow miracles!!!!!!!! Faith sees the incredible, and receiver of the impossible.May God shower all the Japaneses people with endless blessings and MIRACLES. yes yes yes------------

  • Michael wrote ...

    Touching video about the loyalty of a Japanese dog, who refused to leave behind his injured friend:

  • Will wrote ...

    my prayers, love and light are with Japan, the grace and dignity ,strength and love of these people to one another is beautiful. "Love thy Neighbour" the whole world needs to learn from this!

  • Chan Duc Dao wrote ...

    Dear Friends in Japan, It is not too difficult to imagine the immense pain and the suffering that our Japanese brothers and sisters are enduring. It is not too difficult, for example, to imagine the fear, the loss, the devastation: our daughter or son, husband or wife, parents, loved ones swallowed up by the earth. All our belongings swept away by a wave. The destruction of what we know and love: our home, our city, our means of transportation, the parks and the beaches around us, the trees, the birds, the gardens, the Temples, Universities and Hospitals... The death and maiming of pets, friends, and family, the sudden disappearance of neighbors and loved ones. So this Sunday, and all Sundays, we can sit together as a Sangha to generate and send the energy of healing, love, and co [...] See full comment.
    Dear Friends in Japan,

    It is not too difficult to imagine the immense pain and the suffering that our Japanese brothers and sisters are enduring. It is not too difficult, for example, to imagine the fear, the loss, the devastation: our daughter or son, husband or wife, parents, loved ones swallowed up by the earth. All our belongings swept away by a wave. The destruction of what we know and love: our home, our city, our means of transportation, the parks and the beaches around us, the trees, the birds, the gardens, the Temples, Universities and Hospitals... The death and maiming of pets, friends, and family, the sudden disappearance of neighbors and loved ones.

    So this Sunday, and all Sundays, we can sit together as a Sangha to generate and send the energy of healing, love, and compassion to all beings, particularly those in need. We can sit and practice for those who cannot practice. We can sit and open our hearts. We can sit and open our minds. For example, we can sit and open our hearts and minds to the immense pain and suffering being generated in Japan right now. We can sit and open our hearts and minds to impermanence. We can sit and open our hearts and minds to the wonder of it all. And we can mindfully hug our loved ones, warmly look around our life circumstances, and be grateful for what we have. We can express our joy and sorrow, we can love openly and live deeply knowing that every moment we have is precious, and that our time on this Earth is brief.

    Our Teacher, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh together with the Plum Village and International Sanghas are scheduled to tour Japan this year from April 23 to May 7. We know that this journey will water many positive seeds and generate the energies of love and understanding, compassion and healing, and peace and protection for all.

    Here is Thay 's Message to Friends in Japan:

    Dear friends in Japan,

    As we contemplate the great number of people who have died in this tragedy, we may feel very strongly that we ourselves, in some part or
    manner, also have died.

    The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.

    An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what's most important is to love each
    other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have
    died: we can live in such a way that they continue, beautifully, in us.

    Here in France and at our practice centers all over the world, our brothers and sisters will continue to chant for you, sending you the energy of peace, healing and protection. Our prayers are with you.

    Thich Nhat Hanh

    Here is a letter sent by Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi of Great Vow Monastery in Oregon to her teacher, Shodo Harada Roshi, in Japan:

    Dear Roshi and Chi-san,

    As the unbelievable pictures come in on our computer screens, our
    hearts are filled with sadness and prayers for those tens of thousands who have died, those who are injured and those who grieve.
    An entire nation turned upside down. What can we say?

    In ancient times, entire villages were wiped out by earthquake and tsunami.
    Maybe only the few people who survived could tell about it and remember it.
    But now we all can see it, the ferocious power of nature, of the sea.
    Those huge waves carrying away a vast jumble of tens of thousands of cars, houses, trucks, boats, greenhouses, human bodies, buses, all the
    accumulated human junk and treasures, grandmothers, babies, even an entire University. We will never forget it.

    And then, for the only nation on the earth that has suffered attacks by nuclear weapons, to be under the threat of a nuclear disaster.
    It is unbelievable.

    As Buddhists we cannot take refuge in this being part of God's inscrutable plan, or even in the notion of God's wrath for a planet not cared for.
    We take refuge in something that is hard for many to understand.
    We take refuge in the truth of impermanence.
    As the Buddha said to his weeping disciples as he lay dying, " All compounded things will fall apart and be gone." Over centuries, or in a
    When our lives rest on that foundation, on the strange and strong foundation of constant change, then our lives are anchored in truth.

    "Vast ocean of dazzling light, marked by the waves of coming and going, being born and dying. " We chant this at our memorial services.
    This week we have all seen it in action. We practice to be able to balance wisdom and compassion. The wisdom eye sees constant change, even tsunami, as normal, as expected, as part of how IT IS. At the same time our tender hearts feel acutely the pain of human suffering on an unimaginable scale, and we are moved to do what little we can to help. The small blessing of a natural disaster is that there is no one to blame. The earth shrugged, a huge amount of water was displaced, and it flowed where it could. With no energy wasted on blame, everyone can work together to help.

    Please know that we are chanting every day for those who have died and
    are suffering. We will also donate through various organizations including Red Cross and Soto Shu, to help in any small way.

    We had a young monk visiting here for a month at the monastery. He flew home last week, arriving on the day of the earthquake. His home temple is in Fukushima. We have no news about him or his family. We have no news of Abe-san and his temple members, who worked with us on the Jizos for Peace Project.

    Our thoughts are constantly with everyone in Japan.

    In love and sadness,


    Here is a letter to Japan from H.E. Garchen Rinpoche who practices in the Tibetan tradition:

    I am deeply sad to hear about the earthquake disaster in Japan, and also in New Zealand, Tibet, and other places last year. Although many beings have lost their lives, their minds really can never die. And as our minds are connected, we can benefit them by cultivating love and compassion and reciting the Mani mantra (OM MANI PADME HUNG). If we are able to pervade their minds with love, they will awaken from the dream of self-grasping and suffering.

    May the collective and individual energy generated by our practice benefit all beings and bring peace, wisdom, compassion, and loving-kindness to those who suffer the most.

    Chan Duc Dao
    Broward Lotus Sangha
    [View Link] Hide full comment.

  • Leslie wrote ...

    Reading all of this is making me cry and at the same time filled with love and hope for Japan as well as the many countries effected by natural disaster. It all could change in an instant, you're right, the present moment is the only gift we truly have. What a humble country and I hope that others can learn from this and live life with gratitude and appreciation and lend a helping hand and a times like this and just because..I wish I could go help. I wish Japan the spiritual and love support it needs to prevail. Thank you for showing your human spirit. Much Love and healilng Japan.

  • bharat shah wrote ...

    It is though very sad and unbelievable that what have been under going by the Japaneseis tremendious but the corage that they show in this disaster even, I got stuneed and no words for them. Let us prey to the all mighty to give them further courage and remain peace of mind to overcome and get up to the hight even beyond where they were. COME ON JAPANESE, IT IS ONLY YOU CAN DO THAT.

  • Rosanna Kirwan wrote ...

    Japanese people are an inspiration to the world. Their dignity, respect and courage is an inspiration. Last week I bemoaned the loss of the Celtic Tiger, this week I give thanks that the ground under my feet is solid.
    Lots of prayer, love and light to all people suffering at this time.

  • Vijay Prasad wrote ...

    My personal tribute from India

    HOLD ON...
    When the earth quakes
    And the ground shakes
    Hold on…there’s something that can never be shaken
    When the oceans roar
    And the waves soar
    Hold on…there’s something that can never be drowned
    When a volcano goes burst
    And the rivers of fire head on in an unquenchable thirst
    Hold on…there’s something that can never be burnt
    When atoms are in anger
    And threaten to consume everything around in hunger
    Hold on…there’s something that can never be in nature’s dining menu
    When days are covered in snow and cloud
    And every passing moment is a virtual black-out
    Hold on…there’s something that can never be held captive by darkness
    When the way is littered with the after-math
    And the damages are beyond any numbers of math
    Hold on…there’s something that can never be damaged
    When each moment in search of a loved one seems an aeon
    And death stares life at its face, and you feel life is but a blip display in neon
    Hold on…there’s something truly immortal within you
    When the mind is traumatized and paints today in monochrome
    And life is minus the colors and gone is that wonderful place called home
    Hold on…there’s something that is a refuge when you seem to have none
    When emptiness is all that fills your living space
    And forgetting the language of smiles is your distraught face
    Hold on…there’s something that will keep your moment always sunny
    Unshaken, untouched, undamaged, undying… lives on the human spirit
    Never preyed upon…always prayed upon
    In little prayers, in candle lights
    In our thoughts curtained behind closed eyes
    In our kids’ concern for you over the dinner table
    In little words such as this over cable
    Japan, you are not alone
    Together we share this earthly home
    We are all together on this as one
    Between a shared earth and sky,we are one family human
    So hold on and be strong dear japanese bretheren. You are the most resilient and buoyant among us

  • Deepak Sethi wrote ...

    Dear Yuka ,
    Thank you for sharing the acts of courage , the unbreakable spirit of the Japanese people in the face of this tragedy of unimaginable proportions . The thoughts , prayers and blessings from people all over the world are with the japanese people . May God Bless you all .

  • Dagmar Berkenberg wrote ...

    Dear Yuka,
    reading your lines and feeling better immediately was one ! If you handle the situation in Japa so gracefully, we from abroad should do so even more.THANK YOU!
    Today I can smile again! I translated your words into German and people are very very touched. May Peace Prevail with Nature, and deep gratitude to you and your family and everybody in Japan.

  • dorothy wrote ...

    the dignified way in which the Japanese people are behaving should be a shing example to the rest of the world

  • Mia Tagano wrote ...

    Jun Yasuda is a Buddhist nun from Japan's Nipponzan Yohoji Order, whose late founder, Nichidatsu Fujii, a friend of Mahatma Gandhi, began building the massive stupas, or peace pagodas, in response to the atomic bombing. There are now 80 peace pagodas worldwide, including in Grafton and Leverett, Mass.

    Last fall, Yasuda joined an international anti-nuclear march that began at uranium mines in Australia and passed through Japan. They traveled through the north, the now-crippled nation's hardest-hit region. They stopped in the city of Sendai, which is near the epicenter of Friday's 9.0-magnitude temblor that killed thousands of people, leveled cities, left hundreds of thousands homeless and damaged nuclear power plants.

    Japan, a country roughly the size of California, has 55 nuclear power plants. By comparison, there are 104 nuclear plants across the U.S., including six in New York.

    Yasuda has devoted the past 40 years to walking thousands of miles bearing witness to peace by banging a drum slowly and chanting prayers. She advocates an end to nuclear power by replacing it with alternative energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind. She advises citizens to remain skeptical of government reassurances and corporate ads touting the safety record of nuclear energy. She has met many people who suffer from cancer and other illnesses as a result of radiation exposure. She has kneeled in around-the-clock prayer vigils outside nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuel dumps across New York state and beyond.

    Yasuda prays that the devastation in Japan will return in a karmic way to heal the world.

    Source: Times Union Article

  • Katherin Schuppener wrote ...

    You are a form of inspiration, as a nation, as people... I admire you deeply and my prayers and those of people in Costa Rica are with you. May this tragedy and devastation turn into a way of showing the world how much love can do.

  • Joanna Macy wrote ...

    [Letter written on March 15, 2011] Dear Ones, In this hour of anguish we reach out to our Japanese colleagues and all beings of that noble and stricken land. As our hearts unite in prayer for them, we experience our own non-separation from the immeasurable suffering inflicted by the successive earthquakes and tsunamis, and by the nuclear catastrophe these have triggered. Having just begun the last week of my three-month retreat, I break silence to give voice to my solidarity with you all. By speaking to you, I remind myself of what we can remember in this time of grief and fear. It helps me to remember what I learned in Novozybkov with survivors of Chernobyl: that is that there are two basic responses to massive collective trauma. One response is to let it destroy our trust [...] See full comment.
    [Letter written on March 15, 2011]

    Dear Ones,

    In this hour of anguish we reach out to our Japanese colleagues and all beings of that noble and stricken land. As our hearts unite in prayer for them, we experience our own non-separation from the immeasurable suffering inflicted by the successive earthquakes and tsunamis, and by the nuclear catastrophe these have triggered.

    Having just begun the last week of my three-month retreat, I break silence to give voice to my solidarity with you all. By speaking to you, I remind myself of what we can remember in this time of grief and fear.

    It helps me to remember what I learned in Novozybkov with survivors of Chernobyl: that is that there are two basic responses to massive collective trauma. One response is to let it destroy our trust in life and in each other, plummeting us into division, blame and despair. The other is to let the shared cataclysm strengthen us into greater solidarity, and deepen our knowledge of our mutual belonging in the web of life. Your communications are evidence already of that second response. Indeed the Work That Reconnects has been preparing us for it.

    We remember to breathe. As we have practiced, we breathe through the reports as we hear and the images of disaster. This helps us simply take in what is happening, and not be blocked by horror or the desire to fix or flee.

    We also breathe with those who are caught up in this tragedy, in the intensity of panic, shock, and loss. Feel how this breathing-with helps your heart-mind fearlessly and tenderly embrace them.

    You see, if we understand and accept the Great Unraveling, we can let it break us open to greater realizations of our innate solidarity. That this realization in itself is a kind of "enlightenment" has been brought home to me in my retreat by two great teachers of Japan.

    One is the 13th century Zen master Dogen. He illumines our connections with the ancestors and the future ones, so that we can experience these connections in the immediate present moment. So does the other figure, the archetypal bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, who is beloved in Japan, where he/she is known as Bodhisattva Jizo, with images everywhere. Both of them help us realize that we are not alone in this moment of time, but surrounded by past and future generations ready to help. We who inhabit the present can do what they cannot: that is to make choices and take action/ But the past and future ones are right at our side with support and guidance.

    Also, to hold steady and open in this anguished time, try the Spiral of the Work That Reconnects. As I take in the catastrophe in Japan, the Spiral serves to ground my heart-mind, and widen its dimensions. It brings gratitude for all those at work to bring support and clear reporting. It helps me honor the heartbreak, to simply open to it and let it reveals our true nature and mutual belonging. It shows me how solidarity can move us forward, and offer us practical, immediate steps to alleviate suffering and enact safe, sustainable, and sane energy policies. An obvious urgency is to stop US Government subsidies and loan guarantees to nuclear industries, including bills that are before Congress now.

    As radiation from Fukushima spreads, I know that protection of self and family is on our minds. I'm asking Anne to append here two kinds of information: about health measures, and some links to breaking news from Japan. See our page dedicated to this issue:
    [View Link]


    Hide full comment.

  • ping wrote ...

    Hi, Yuka, your stories lift the hearts of the world. can I share them with my FB friends? thanks.

  • Shivaranjan wrote ...

    Dear Yuka:
    Your article is an eye compassionate eye opener for all natural diaster.

    Love the human sense of Japanese people towards a fellow citizen. The country's metabolism design has been made on a super compassionate way.

  • MªJesús wrote ...

    Gracias....Gracias....por todo lo que nos estais haciendo "recordar"...Recordar qué es lo "Importante"...
    Mi amor está con vosotros y mi ayuda también...

  • Somik wrote ...

    Yuka, very inspired to read your letter. One thought that had arisen was about radiation poisoning. We're not reading much about this in the papers, but I thought you might be interested in a bit of information. The documentary "The Knowledge of Healing" notes the work of the Tibetan Badmajew family, which gave a lot of service during the Chernobyl disaster, when lots of Mongolian villages were affected. With Tibetan medicine, the harmful effects of radiation were reversed. The film goes on to document the wonders of a Tibetan drug now sold in Europe as Padma-28. I'm not sure if it has the same components as the ones used to treat radiation. CF's connections with the Tibetan community might help make this ancient knowledge of healing available to the Japanese.

  • Abhá Milagrosa wrote ...

    I'm feeling very touched by the way Japanes people are facing this troublesome situation. May we all learn from you, beautiful people of the 'rising sun',the ways to be truly human... the ways of the heart. Al my Love, Gratefulness and Prayers. Abhá

  • Pema Gyamtsho wrote ...

    While we see heart-renting images of the disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami every day, it is so inspiring to witness the courage, compassion, discipline and calmness of the people of Japan. The destruction and loss of lives and property at unprecedented scale would have brought any nation and its people down on their knees - but not Japan and the Japanese people. Our prayers are always with you, Yuka and all the brave people of Japan.

  • Linda Commito wrote ...

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful examples of how the Japanese people are supporting each other in the midst of chaos. It is so inspiring.
    In my book about how people everywhere are making a difference in the lives of others... I will definitely be writing about the resiliency of the Japanese people, whose currency of love, respect and gratitude is opening all of our hearts.

  • Suzanne wrote ...

    To Yuka and everyone who shares and reads here. We are moved by your courage. Thank you for reminding us of our oneness. We love you and are praying for you.

  • Shivani wrote ...

    Dear Yuka,
    Thank you for sharing..It is inspiring..Our prayers are always with you.

    With Love
    Shivani (India)

  • angela wrote ...

    Thank Yuka for sharing the stories. It is inspirational. I remember the people of Japan in my prayers, and I believe that Japan will be stronger and greater in years to come as this event draws the strength from every citizen and love for each other......God bless, Arigato

  • Rosario Betancourt wrote ...

    Desde Mérida Venezuela enviamos a todo Japón, a Madre Tierra nuestras energías llenas de amor incondicional. Desde el Jardín Botánico de la Ciudad donde hay una representación del Monte Fuji hacemos sanación para este noble pueblo "itsanai"

  • R.Thavamani wrote ...

    I am R.Thavamani,Neyveli, Tamil Nadu, India ( ). I love Japan and Japanese people. I am shocked over the terrible news of the strong earthquake and tsunami that has hit Japan. My best wishes for a speedy recover. Be strong, be brave, it is a terrible time for Japanese people. I am with you all, I have prayed with all my heart and soul for your recovery.

  • madhur wrote ...

    Thanks a lot Yuka for sharing this. I am so proud of Japanese and others who are able to show patience, selflessness and care for others on such times of panic and disaster. All of you deserve a salute, an applaud, lots of hugs, blessings and prayers :)
    Loved the post, this was a great inspiration. Heartfelt wishes for a recovery very soon!

  • wastu kencana wrote ...

    thank you so much for sharing this...

    it is a dear to read this inspiring moments of our brothers and sisters in japan

    facing trembling situation
    heart-wrenching tragedy
    many people loss his/her family and dears just like many of our brothers and sisters in palestine
    but i definitely am learn a lot from our brothers and sisters from japan, lots of hope, lots of courage, and lots of compassion.

    and the comments above me tells that there is only one color should exist as human being...the color of love

    may all of us could stay side by side, holding hands as a "human", with HIS blessings

    hontou ni arigatou gozaimasu...!!!

  • Devin wrote ...


    We think and pray for you, the Saionji people, all the Lightworkers and all the people of Japan from here in Amenia at the World Peace Prayer Society headquarters.

    As soon as the tsunami struck, I walked the peace path and began assembling loose twigs and branches in the shape of a heart around the Peace Pole for Japan. Each time I come back others have added to it and are sending their prayers to add with your strong message of Light and Hope.

    May all this energy, love and gratitude you have generated be abundantly available to you in the trying times ahead.

    May Peace Prevail in Japan and on EARTH

  • Cam Allen wrote ...

    Your words have inspired me, and the human spirit will overcome the hardships from this disaster..

    I would love to publish your messages in our Australian Education magazine, I think the world needs to be reminded of such hope and love. Please email when you have some time so we can discuss..
    Warmest regards, Cam Allen

  • Kiyo Sato wrote ...

    Yuka's message is clear. Japan is doing fine. We are not. Around me, (Sacramento, California), are the homeless, the abused children and even shootings.

    Yuka is telling us that we can help from right where we are. Just a smile for a child to let that child know that his or her world is okay is a start towards a caring planet.

    And what will happen to Yuka's flower? Will our children survive a nuclear accident?

  • Harsh wrote ...

    Moved me to tears. Thank you Yuka for writing it. I feel grateful. Thank you.