Japanese Students Sleep at School Because of the Natural Disaster


Students at CHS held a bake sale to raise money and awareness for the crisis in Japan.

Ella Bourland, Annabel Weiner, and Helen Januszewski

“A lot of people lost their houses and families. More than 10,000 people died, and I think there’s going to be more,” said Haruna Omura, a 16 year-old Japanese high school student. On March 11th, 2011, a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake, followed by tsunami waves 30 feet high, hit Japan’s northeast coast. According to the United States Geological Survey, this is the largest earthquake ever to hit the island, and the fourth largest earthquake in the world since 1900.

There is a suspected death toll of 13,116, and 14,377 others are unaccounted for according to Xinhuanet News. There are also many at risk of cancer because of radiation. Omura wears a mask on a regular basis because she may be exposed to harmful air. Living in Kanagawa, located slightly southwest of Tokyo, Omura was lucky that her town was not greatly affected by this natural disaster.

Omura was at a school assembly when she felt the shaking and rumbling of the earthquake. She had felt earthquakes before, but this one was worse than the others. “…This one was way bigger than the ones I’ve felt, like four times bigger,” said Omura.

Omura was backstage during the school dance performance that was for the graduating students. She said that everyone was very surprised when the earthquake started, and some were even screaming and crying. Despite the panicked atmosphere, the performers continued dancing.

The country is in such disarray that even public transportation is not a given. Throughout Japan, trains are an important mean of transportation. But on March 11th, trains were stopped. At Omura’s school many students were not able to get home or have their parents pick them up. This resulted in about 500 students, including Omura, who slept overnight at school. She slept in a classroom and was given a blanket, but not much to eat; Omura only had one rice ball. Omura got the chance to e-mail her mother about four hours after the earthquake hit to let her mom know that she was all right. The next day Omura’s mother was able to pick her up from school. But it was hard for Omura not to see her mom for 18 hours. After the tsunami, Omura’s school was closed for three weeks.

Although the conditions are not terrible where Omura lives, she still has to take daily precautions. Because of radiation from the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the air in certain areas is harmful, and sometimes Omura has to wear a mask when she goes outside. Electricity is scare, and blackouts continue to be a problem. At night, electricity is turned off in some cities to power other places in Japan. In Japan there is not a vast amount of electricity to go around, so there are blackouts up to two hours long in some cities.

Students at CHS held a bake sale to raise money and awareness for the crisis in Japan.

“A lot of donation is going on …There were also soccer game[s] for charity, and many famous people … [are] donating money too.” There are many opportunities to donate, even at CHS. Students recently held a bake sale, and signs were hung to encourage students to donate to the Red Cross.

Luckily, nobody Omura knew was greatly affected by the earthquake or tsunami. “I don’t have any friends who live near the epicenter and [the parts that had the] tsunami,” she said.

After seeing images of the damage in Japan, Omura was shocked. “I couldn’t believe that it’s Japan, I still can’t believe it,” she said.