The Heart of Japan’s Disaster

Sakura (cherry blossom) by S. Tagaki

The damage in Japan is so great, I feel like I am drowning in the sadness, the loss, the hopelessness.  I am the child of refugee immigrants, who came in poverty, having lost everything. It makes a difference to your aspirations, to your memories. How sad it must be to be a refugee in your own country.

Today a friend shared this insightful letter from Sachiko Takagi,  a Japanese woman of amazing strength and resilience who writes about her country’s tragedy. I have her permission to quote her letter, which I have broken into lines to read like the poetry it is:

Japan, March 2011, Going Forward
It has been 10 days since the earthquake.
Recalling what has been happening, I feel like many more days have passed.

Our biggest concern and fear is the nuclear power plant.
Last Wednesday, our manager forced the staff to go home early
to avoid the possible exposure in radiation.
We also fear radiation-contaminated food.

I do not expect nuclear power plant to be recovered and in use again.
This means that Tokyo and other cities have to live
with less electric power, going forward.

In Tokyo, all department stores and shopping malls close at 6 p.m. to save energy.
All places, stations, shopping malls, even pachinko parlors, are in dim light.
Only 3 out of 6 elevators are in service at Ebisu Garden Place, where my office is located.

But I think this is fine.
This is the world we live, going forward.
We have learned we can live with dim light and no shopping after 6 p.m.

I can not forget a scene I watched on TV.
300 Mercedes, shipped and docked at the harbor, were on fire
and drifted to the sea.
We do not need luxury anymore.

Today is the holiday as Spring Equinox Day.
It was a cold rainy day.
I think of people who stay in cold gyms with no air condition.

All I can do is to pray and do some donation.
On Saturday, I went to a shrine to pray and there was a park nearby.
The attached is the picture of cherry blossom at the park.

Please tell your students that we are in hard times but we are not desperate.
We feel that your thoughts are with us.
Thank you for your care and love.
Spring comes here soon!


* * *
If you would like to donate to the Japanese relief funds, the Network for Good, is

We hold you to the light, © Quinn McDonald

a page of links from charities, churches, and agencies that are helping with food and water.

If you would like to make a postcard with a short message of care, of hope, of blessing, of reaching out to show we are a country of compassion and not just fighter planes, I will find a way to get it to children in Japan, a small way to let them know that they are remembered, held to the light by people they will never meet.   That’s my postcard up there.

Send your postcards to:
Sakura Children c/o
P.O. Box 12183
Glendale, AZ 85318

“Sakura” means Cherry Blossom in Japanese.

–Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and writer who hopes to get a few handmade postcards to send to children who have lost everything.

16 thoughts on “The Heart of Japan’s Disaster

  1. Hey Quinn

    I think this is/was a great initiative. Wish I had seen this before, as it would have been great to post up on my site at If you do run any further postcard projects in the future, I’d love to help publicise them for you

  2. I also love this idea and will be working on a stack of cards. Thank you so much for doing this, Quinn. I hope you get tons of cards for these children (and adults). I will share the link with a couple of online art groups also if that is okay?

    • I will be gathering the postcards until they stop coming. I have no idea what will happen. Maybe I’ll get three or six or 600. I’m open to whatever happens. A good idea for you might be to set a deadline that is realistic for you–not too distant (8 weeks) not to immediate (8 hours) and then meet it.

  3. Quinn, thank you so much for Sachiko’s letter. If it’s ok I would like to share this with my daughter’s class.
    I will work on some postcards this weekend with my daughter and send them to you early next week. We’ve been feeling so helpless also. Many thanks to you for getting this together.

    • Yes, just add USA at the very end. Postcards can vary in size in the U.S., but I’m assuming that if the leave NZ, they will get sent here. Absolutely, tell as many people as you want, I’d like to let as many kids as possible that they are remembered. That’s sweet of you!

  4. I would love to make a postcard to send and will get onto it soon. I have a Japanese International Student (Adult) living with me and she seems to not want to talk about this. Her brother is in one of the halls and he is hungry. I will ask her if she would like to make a card with me.

  5. What an expression of hope midst all-round disaster. “We are in hard times but we are not desperate.” Her expressions of accepting change, yet “going forward.”

    I would do well to remember that, in a time of devastation, this woman’s attitude remains positive. How little it takes for me to plunge into negativity when, if I look at the big picture, I have everything I need, and a lot more. I forget to look at the world as a whole and the hardships and the suffering of so many. It is so easy to focus only on my tiny space. And, too, I forget to feel gratitude for my blessings, my many many blessings.

    But, as she says, “going forward” I can contribute small things for the greater good of all. It just takes awareness and the will to change.

    Thank you for posting this touching reminder of how fragile life really is.

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