Last Thursday night, I watched on live television as wave after wave assaulted the shores of my homeland, houses on fire rolling on a black crest of water across farmland, engulfing cars, vans, and trucks fleeing before the tsunami. I watched people die that night, helpless and powerless, transfixed by a TV screen thousands of miles away.
Since the Great Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami struck Japan last week, little else has been on my mind, and I return time and again to memories of the 15 years I spent there from birth through adolescence. I have vague memories of taking a boat ride among strange islands of greenery overhanging wave-carved stone. My father tells me that was Sendai, nearly 30 years ago. I wonder what they look like now.
Here I am circa 1977 in Hokkaido, ensconced in a tokonoma, lined up with a carved Ainu bear, iron kettle, water jug, and a sock monkey made for me by my great-grandmother.