DISCLAIMER FROM THE TRANSLATOR: While I speak both English and Japanese fluently, I know nothing about medicine. These are rough translations made through tears (i.e., sometimes while bawling). Please take all medical details in particular with a grain of salt. These translations have not been proofread and will be revised on a later date.

Please note that I am NOT in contact with the original author, who has given general permission for translation in one of her entries.

I would appreciate it if everyone can refrain from posting these entries elsewhere and to share this address <http://jkts-english.blogspot.com> instead, as I will be making revisions to each entry directly (addresses for individual entries may change if I revise their titles).



Start reading here: 1) To the affected areas.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

1) To the affected areas.

March 11, 2:46PM.  The Tohoku Pacific Earthquake.

To all those in the affected areas, and to all those who are not in those areas but are affected by the disaster in many ways—I sincerely wish that you will be able to restore your daily lives as soon as possible.  And to the great many who have passed away, I pray that you will rest in peace, from the bottom of my heart.

There is a reason why I have decided to temporarily bring back this blog that I've left unattended for so long.

On March 15, a disaster medical assistance team was assembled at the hospital where I work.

I was among those dispatched to the affected areas from our emergency unit, and it is my hope that I can somehow convey in my own words what I saw, what I felt, and all the things that I could do nothing about as a member of the first team that went in from the 16th to the 23rd.

Not that I was trying to act the saint, but as the effects of the disaster spread further and further, and watching so many people cry, I had been thinking since the day of that earthquake about what I could do and should do “now,” at this very moment.  Given my profession, I felt certain that I could surely do something to help, and when this opportunity arose, I thought, “This is it!”

On the day before departure, we were given handouts and held a meeting.  The handout said that there was no need to include our wallets and money when we pack for the mission.  There is no use for money there, we should expect to miss meals and sleep, and disaster victims are to be given higher priority for the use of temporary lavatories.

And a word from the person from another hospital who will be supervising us as the lead nurse:

“The situation over there is beyond your worst imagination.  If any of you have signed up with optimistic outlooks or from the spirit of volunteerism, please leave the team now.
     No matter what happens at the site, DO NOT CRY.  We are not going there to express our sympathy.  We are going there to provide nursing and medical care.  If you think YOU want to cry, think about how much the people there want to cry.  The tears of a rich medical team from Tokyo will only be bothersome or even insulting to them.”

Being rather spineless, I was already feeling pretty gloomy at this point.

A nurse from my hospital who always has full makeup on was addressed by name.

“Don’t even think about wearing make-up there.”

After the meeting, I returned to my apartment and sent e-mails to friends to ease my anxiety and made proclamations about going to the affected areas to pull myself together.  I also made myself eat two whole servings of tsuke-men noodles, because I probably won’t be able to eat anything warm for a while.  (´`)

My parents’ house was also damaged from the earthquake, and I wanted to go and check the situation, but the trains were still down and I couldn’t go home.  I called my mother and told her I was going to head for the affected areas tomorrow as part of a medical team, and I felt that she gave me a push forward.

She said, “The whole family’s fine.  Go help all those people who are really having a rough time,” and it really made me feel so much better.

Of course, on the night before departure, I checked my baggage countless times and couldn’t get any sleep with all these thoughts about what will begin tomorrow before morning came.

So the reason why I’ve temporarily resumed by blog is because I thought that if I’m going there to provide medical assistance, I must also tell everyone about what I saw and felt.  I decided to keep a journal in my cell phone at the end of each day, and to put it all here when I come back.

I came face to face with so many things that are really hard to put into words, though, so I don’t think this will get across very well, but here goes nothing…

Next entry: 2) Myself on Day One.

Translated March 27, minor edits April 7.
Original entry in Japanese: 1、被災地へ。


  1. Thank you so much for your efforts in translating this deeply moving account! If there is any way to do so, please pass along my thanks to the author for allowing you to share her thoughts and experiences with the rest of the world. I, too, cried while reading - may her hopes and wishes come true with the return of the smiles to the people of that devastated region!

  2. Nancy: I’m glad the work (though rushed and executed in poor conditions—that is, I translated the entries so soon after I first read them that I couldn’t stop crying in the process) is appreciated.  I will indeed pass along comments received here in the comments section of her weblog, though it will have to wait until I have finally gotten around to revising the translations.
         In the meantime, please spread word about this weblog as much as you see fit.  Addresses for individual entries may possibly change later on, so it would be a good idea to share <http://jkts-english.blogspot.com> instead.

  3. thank you for translating this, the guardian for bring it to general public attention, but especially to the nurse/blogger for sharing her personal diary of feelings and daily events so movingly.

  4. Many thanks to both you and the medical worker for sharing this with readers of English. This is a great way to keep people aware such stories, especially as time has passed since the initial burst of interest.

  5. post:  Thank you for reading, and I most certainly agree re: The Guardian and of course the author herself.

    IKB:  Thank you for reading.

    Cam O.:  Indeed.  Attention is waning even in Japan, as the nurse notes.  I hope the blog helps more people remember.