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東日本大震災翻訳プロジェクト〔第3話〕

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Going home by bicycle

SUZUKI Yudai, 45,General affairs department,
Latov Corporation, Iwaki City
Translated by HOSHI Kentaro

11 March

 I was on a business trip to Ginza, Tokyo. After I finished lunch, I was looking for sweets for female office workers as return gifts of White Day. At that time, a quiet lateral swing continued for a long, long time. I remember that a female clerk in front of me began to laugh, probably due to tension or fear.

 There were a great multitude of people in the streets. They must have been evacuated from subway stations and buildings. I walked to Tokyo station because subways and JR trains stopped operations. The Joban Line service (for Iwaki) was also suspended, and there was no knowing when the line would resume normal service. Highway bus for Iwaki was halted too. It was getting dark and dark.

 I could not use my cell phone, nor send e-mail. I could not get in touch with my company and family. I had a meal at a Japanese-style bar located an alley. Though I tried to rent a car, I could not find even a single car. I decided to spend the night at Tokyo station as I wanted to take any train or bus whenever they resume the operation.

 

12 March

 At 0:30 a.m. I moved to Tokyo International Forum, a temporary shelter for commuters. I came to know the impact of the earthquake for the first time when I watched TV news in the lobby. Then, I secured a room in a business hotel, and stayed there. I was able to make contact with my wife twice through e-mail, and confirmed that all the family members were safe. Still, I was worried about my father and mother. My mother was in hospital for medical rehabilitation. I wanted to meet them by any means.

 

13 March

 Firstly, I took Tsukuba Express for Tsukuba City (70 km away from Tokyo) in Ibaraki Prefecture. Then I took a special bus for Mito city (120 km away from Tokyo). JR Mito station was damaged heavily, and it was impossible to operate train. In a rental car agent, they refused my request when I said that I wanted to go to Iwaki. I bought a bicycle as the last resort.

 

14 March

 At 6:00 a.m. I left Mito for Iwaki (it is 90km from Mito to Iwaki.) I went up to north through National Route 6. It was early in the morning, but there were already heavy traffic jams. The cars were for gasoline, making a long line for gas station. I saw such jams many times before I arrived at Iwaki.

 I went along the sidewalk by bicycle, but destroyed walls, bumps, and subsidence prevented my way. At times I went in the middle of the road, and at times I got off the bicycle to go across bumps. It was much more difficult than I expected.

 Though I wanted to rest, I could not take a break. All the shops were closed. Even vending machines did not work. “Let me go forward a little bit more”, I thought so many times. When I was arriving at Takahagi, I heard a fire engine announcing “Tsunami warning! evacuate to a high ground.” I changed my direction to the mountain side.

 There were many ups and downs in the road. After one hour or so, I had almost reached my limit. Then I found a shop. A shopkeeper was giving rice ball and juice to his neighbors. When he looked at me, he said, “You don’t look so good. Have some food and take a rest.” I had some food, and took a rest for one hour. I said thank you to him, and I left for Iwaki again.

 When I arrived at JR Nakoso station, a friend of mine picked me up for my office. It was really helpful for me. At the office I confirmed the situation. After that I went back to my parents' house which was built more than 50 years ago. When I found my father in good spirits, I felt reassured. I decided to stay with him until my family came back from Date City. Even though water had been cut off, electricity and gas were available.

 

After 15 March

 I went to a water station every day and delivered water. I visited shops ran by my acquaintances to get food. Also I walked around the town to draw our ration. The town was deserted. Most people had evacuated because of radiation. There was a phone call from the hospital in which my mother was hospitalized. They wanted me to take care of her at home. There were not sufficient number of doctors and nurses in the hospital. Some of them had evacuated from Iwaki. Moreover, many beds were required for patients from Soso region, an administrative area in around Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant.

 With my parents, new life began. My mother’s one half body had been paralyzed. Therefore, a lot of water was required for laundering her clothes and cooking. When every house kept closing windows to avoid radiation exposure, we were hanging the laundry out in the garden to dry her clothes and futon (Japanese bedclothes). We spent life as usual except lack of water. By the end of March, life had become as before the disaster. My mother was again hospitalized in order to restart rehabilitation. In July, she died of infraction.

 I and my father took care of my mother. We did not know how to care at all. When we were caring her, she often said “Ouch! it hurts” while smiling. Replying “sorry,” we were also smiling. She ate everything we cooked, and told us it was delicious. Even though life was uneasy and some works were painstaking, I could spend several weeks with my parents. The quake gave me the last chance to be together.

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