Shaken to the core
12 Mar 2011
Inside the Classics

Literally. Since turning on CNN in the hotel room this morning, it’s been a tumultuous day. You’ll have all heard by now about the magnitude 8.9 earthquake off the northeast coast of the Honshu (main) island of Japan, and we’ve all been shocked by the terrifying images of both the quake and the devastating tsunamis that have followed.

It was all the more shaking for me as all of my mother’s family (aunts and uncles, a dozen cousins, their children) lives in and around Tokyo, and for several awful hours this morning it was impossible to reach them (phones are down). Internet was quickly restored, however, and we were able to account for all our relatives. My mother in Hawaii is fortunately on high ground, as is my brother in northern California, but you can understand how it’s been an anxious day of hoping that everyone was safe and sound!

Watching the images and videos and hearing the news reports, I am absolutely heartsick for what will certainly be a tremendous loss of life and a difficult time ahead for the country of my birth. And it got me to thinking; it’s rapidly approaching my favorite time in Japan – early spring – particularly those few weeks in early April of cherry blossom season, when the trees that are planted all over many Japanese cities are at their loveliest. In Japanese it’s called hanami – literally “flower-watching” – and it’s an activity that the Japanese look forward to with great anticipation.

And in times of trouble, sometimes the simple beauty of those blossoms, and of the most quintessential of Japanese folk melodies, “Sakura” (cherry blossom), can bring some comfort; they have for me on this trying day.

ADDENDUM: Many artists were affected by the quake; article here.

<October 2019>

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