On March 11, our beloved Miyagi Prefecture was hit by an earthquake of 8.9 magnitude followed by a tsunami and several on-going aftershocks. As many of you know, David and I lived in Sendai (the capital of Miyagi) during 2004-05 where we taught English to high school students with the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program. This was a magical year for us when we not only created incredible memories teaching and traveling, but we also established very special friendships with our fellow JETs and the people of Japan. Our hearts have been crushed by the horrific news and we're finding it very difficult to sit and wait patiently for information from our friends that they're okay. Fortunately, the area of Sendai where David and I lived is about 7 miles inland and about 1 mile southwest of the city center where reports have shown that only minor earthquake damage was done. Presumably, our schools were not touched by the flooding.
It's unbelievable to us that the coastal communities of Miyagi have experienced such devastation. Watari, Natori, Ishinomaki, Kesennumma, Shiogama, and of course, Matsushima, each hold a special place in our hearts for various reasons: our first day at the beach, a favorite sushi restaurant, the Tanabata festival, countless JET parties(!), a weekend camping trip, 4th of July run/bike celebration to the beach, sakura viewing, and much more.
In honor of our cherished Miyagi and it's celebrated Matsushima Bay (famous for some 260 tiny islands covered in pines and ranked as one of Japan's three most beautiful places), I'm sharing the haiku poem "Matsushima" by Matsuo Basho. The story of the poem dates back to 1689, when the haiku master Basho visited Matsushima on his famous trip recorded in his travelogue "Narrow Road to the Deep North."
A-ah, Matsushima, ah!
Sometimes, words just aren't enough to describe how beautiful something is. I felt the same way Basho did every time I stepped off the train in Matsushima and indeed every time I returned home to the beautiful city of Sendai, "Mori no miyako" (the City of Trees).
Sending all of our positive thoughts and prayers to our Japanese family -- the warmest, most generous, and strongest people we know!