As I write it is just past 9:00 PM, Sunday night in Tokyo.

Tokyo is yet the largest city in the world with 35 to 39 million living in its metropolitan area.  It’s my birthplace and the place my mother’s family lived through war.

Friday I listened to the first reports of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan as I traveled on the road to see my mother, Yoshiko.  I was on the way to Minnesota for the Saturday funeral of my uncle Ray.  Ray drove an armored half-track across Europe in the closing months of World War II.  As Ray drove, his brother fought in New Guinea and the Philippines in the war against Japan.  A few years later Matt married Yoshiko.

When I arrived in Duluth Yoshiko was concerned.   Here’s the story I shared last night with her grandchildren:

Hi children –
Yesterday Yoshiko heard about the quake and tsunami when Janis phoned her, so your grandmother spent a lot of time through the afternoon with CNN on the TV.  She wanted to know about Tokyo which is where her sister Aiko lives.  I arrived, we had dinner at Perkins, and after we got back to her home she decided to try reach Aiko at 7:00 PM, the time they normally phone to accomodate their different time zones.  After a couple calls, no answer.  News was that phone lines were down and that no one was able to communicate.
We went to Ray’s memorial service this afternoon, came back to Duluth and Yoshiko tried phoning again and this time Aiko answered.  We were all relieved.  All of us talked to Aiko.  I used my Dad’s phrase that humored her ‘genki, patti, patti’ and she giggled.  It’s ‘how are you?’ in poor Japanese.  Aiko sounded strong, her voice remarkably clear for someone who’s turning 86 this October.  Your mother was funny; she did not want to have to talk to someone expecting some Japanese.  Yoshiko forced her to say something; you know your grandmother.
Aiko said that on the day of the quake after a morning doctor’s appointment she came home and lay down for a nap.  She awoke from her sleep; she was moving.  Realizing it was a quake, she got up to do what her mother had taught her.  Go unlock the front door.  But Aiko couldn’t walk, the building was shaking so badly.  She was able to look out the window to see all who were on the street standing still.  No one was able to move because the quake was so violent.  Fortunately there was little or no damage in her apartment and her high rise appears to be in good shape.  It’s a new building and apparently very well built.  Her power is on and the phone working.  What happened yesterday when Yoshiko phoned was that Aiko had gone out.  After the big quake ended she went to her usual Friday activity, a seniors’ group program and meal.  Sometimes they do Hawaiian dancing, she says.  So, life goes on.
Her nephew checked on her, so that’s good there’s someone to do that nearby.  That made your grandmother feel a little better.  But she was very glad to get through and hear all is well with Aiko.  To celebrate, she took Janis, your mother and I out to the Japanese restaurant in Hermantown.  It was fun, the tea good, and food not bad.  

I head home in the morning, said my goodbyes already.  I thought you’d want news of our family in Japan.

BTW, Captain Chris Marques (hometown Decatur IL), the Salvation Army’s Territorial Youth Secretary in Japan is busy with what the Army does at times like this.