Letter From Tokyo To My Friends Overseas

Posted by Jacinta Hin on March 18, 2011

Two days ago I sent this letter from Tokyo, where I live, to my family and friends overseas. Today I share it here on my blog.

My friends,

First, thank you so much for all your messages and words of support and concern. I am really touched by so many of you reaching out to me. And through me to the people in Japan.

Second, I am okay. Still shaken, pretty tired, sometimes pretty emotional, but mentally and spiritually strong.

Right now all of us here are experiencing something we have no experience with. We have no handbook ready on how to deal with what is happening, neither do we know what will happen next. Real and surreal at the same time. We live from moment to moment, from day to day. Here in Tokyo we try to do our normal things, yet nothing feels normal. Life as we knew it is gone. We are already living life differently. Priorities have shifted, relationships changed. We surely feel as one community, close and on the same page. We all had the same traumatic experience, and all are very aware we are lucky, here in Tokyo, compared to the Northeast.

I know that you are concerned about the Fukushima nuclear plant and hearing reports on people leaving Tokyo to safer grounds. It is true that many foreigners have left the city. Some embassies, among which the Dutch embassy, has urged their citizens to leave. Many foreign companies have relocated their expatriates and families. I respect their decisions, especially if children are involved, but do not plan to follow their example.

I am among the group of foreign locals who is still in Tokyo and that does not want to leave. Many of us have strong connections with the city and its people. We have family, friends, coworkers or staff we are responsible for. And many of us see no reason to leave. We all monitor the news, we have lots of resources of information here, and we constantly exchange information. Facebook and twitter play an amazing role. For me these two are a real lifeline right now.

We all know there is a lot of uncertainty and that nobody can say for sure what is going to happen. We are getting reports on something new happening almost every hour. At the same time we are also getting more and more background information that is helping us put things into perspective. This helps us stay calm, make informed decisions and be prepared.

I like to share an update from the British Embassy dated yesterday, afternoon. Widely read and spread here in Tokyo. Although we cannot say anything with absolute certainty right now, this update from the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government makes a lot of sense to many of us here. Moving from panic and fear to getting informed, and next to putting things into perspective is so important in situations like this. Especially for the people in the situation. Please be assured this does not mean we are getting into denial or going overboard on the positive thinking side. Believe me, we are all very reality-minded here.

I encourage you to read it.

For “facebookers”

For others

Our plight here, although not a light one, fades in comparison with the people in the Northeast. Every time we feel an earthquake or aftershock in Tokyo, and we have many, we know in the Northeast they probably feel it stronger. Every time we look at the empty shelves in supermarkets and wonder if we should start stocking food (which we should not, there is still plenty of food here), we think of the people in the disaster area evacuation camps where food supplies are getting scarcer by the day, with reports that at some places people only get one riceball a day. And as far as radiation is concerned, if we are already concerned here in Tokyo, we can only image what it is for those living closer to the plant (and in the disaster areas).

Please keep sending your thoughts and words of love and prayers to Japan. The Japanese people truly appreciate it. They feel very much supported by the world. The words of admiration for how the Japanese people have been dealing with everything since Friday, conveyed via press, personal messages and twitter (very big in Japan), makes them feel proud and helps restoring their spirit. It all helps. It really does.

And of course you can also help with financial donations. Very much needed. I am happy to send you suggestions of good organizations.

For now, with love,



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