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東日本大震災翻訳プロジェクト〔第28話〕

  • English
  • 日本語

Responsibility to conserve the temple

ABE Gakudo, 56, Chief priest at Chukyoji, a Buddhist temple in Taira
Translated by KIMURA Chinami

 

    It was the major quake and the massive tsunami that I had never experienced before. Besides these two disasters, the accident at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant (F1) changed our lives completely. We can never forget the day of March 11. The shock of the quake still comes back to me.

    My temple is located in Taira, 200 m above sea level. Though we had no damage from the tsunami, the main temple and the priests' quarters were damaged considerably from the quake. The pillars were split, the sliding paper doors were broken, and a part of the wall collapsed.

    When the intense shake occurred by the earthquake, I escaped with my wife from my house to the yard. I could not keep standing. I squatted on the ground, waiting for the quake to end. The main temple was rocking from the side to side. Roof tiles fell down from the priests' quarters. We shouted “Falling down!” Due to continuing aftershocks, we could not go in the house. We were looking at the fallen tiles in dejection.

    Compared with people who have lost their family members or their homes, our situation might not be so terrible. But, suspension of water, lack of food and gasoline, and invisible radioactivity from F1 caused us a lot of mental damage.

    As the chief priest, I have never thought to leave from my town. I had friends who kept saying “Do our best!”, but some of them left from Iwaki without notice. The number of locked houses in my neighborhood increased day by day. I was left behind and felt uneasy.

    It was the time before the equinox. I could not leave from the temple as supporters (parishioners) were to visit graves of the ancestors. I had several telephone inquiries about family graves. In fact, only a handful people visited the temple as many people had already left Iwaki.

    A supporter living in Tokyo dissociated from us. He removed his family tomb to another prefecture. He was worried about the radiation. Is it damage from groundless rumor?

    With this great earthquake, many old shrines and temples received major damages. Considerable time and money will be necessary to repair such extensive damages. As temples have to request donation from supporters, reconstruction plans do not advance easily. Many priests are experiencing difficulties in their management. Fortunately, my temple will be reconstructed with property and insurance.