Fear of Earthquake and Squashed Bread

When I was about five, there was a very large earthquake in South region of Japan and many people lost their lives as a consequence of this earthquake. My hometown was located far North and was not directly affected by the earthquake, but everybody was shocked by the news. At the time, I was too young to understand the information delivered on TV, and even though adults around me often talked about it, I didn’t pay much attention to it.

Then, two years later, an animation film was made after the stories told by the people who survived this earthquake. One day, one of my two childhood best friends said she wanted to watch this film. Though we no longer lived in the same community, that day, my mother had invited both of my friends to our new house so that we could play together until evening. So, an arrangement was made that my friend’s mother would take the three of us to the movie first, then later drive us over to my house.

On the way to the movie, we were all excited. It had been a while since we’d had the chance to spend such a long time together. We dropped by at a bakery to buy lunch, and since I was feeling so elated, I asked my friend’s mother to buy me a big round sweat bread. I was having an increased appetite.

Unfortunately, however, we were running late for the movie and our lunch had to be postponed to after the show. I left my round bread in the car and walked to the theatre with my friends and my friend’s mother, looking forward to watching the movie together.

In the community theatre, there was first a small opening ceremony with music, then finally the movie started. It was a story of an eleven year old boy and his friends in primary school. The main character had two close classmates, and before the earthquake, he was just an ordinary child having no doubts that the day after would be exactly the same as this day. But it all changed when his town was hit by the earthquake. He saw many people’s lives taken away in front of him including one of his best friends. The story portrayed this boy’s sorrow, grief, and resilience as he and people around him together rebuilt their lives over the next year, and it ended with the boy’s graduation ceremony at his primary school.

After the movie, our mood was completely sorrowful. I was deeply immersed in the story we had just watched, and all the way to my house, I kept thinking about the life and deaths I saw through this boy’s eyes. I had even forgot about my lunch. When we finally arrived at my house and got off the car, I saw my round bread completely flattened and squashed on the seating.

That was the day it hit me for the first time what an earthquake was capable of doing to our lives. Since then, whenever I felt an earthquake, I always thought of that earthquake I saw in the movie and never took it lightly throughout my childhood.