2016 has solidified its legacy as the worst year in recent memory. After Trump, “Brexit”, and Arnold Palmer, the fine people of Planet Earth are struggling to find a glint or glimmer of hope, happiness, justice, or just plain old good.
I thought I’d share one.
When I woke up in Ishinomaki City on March 11th, 2011, Miyagi Prefecture was unknown worldwide, other than the fact that its name rang a bell because of The Karate Kid. Later that day in Miyagi alone, anywhere from 10,553 to 11,788 people lost their lives, 82,999 homes were completely destroyed, and 325,884 civilians sought refuge at evacuation shelters.
This major event forever connected me to the city of Ishinomaki, the prefecture of Miyagi, and the country of Japan. It changed the course of, among many million others, my life. I now work for the government of Miyagi. One of my duties is interpretation when non-Japanese speakers come in as guests of the prefecture.
On June 13th of this year, a group of such guests, about twenty university students from California, came to my building as a part of a study tour. A representative from the government delivered a presentation in Japanese, and I interpreted.
In that presentation, I relayed to our English-speaking guests that at at the end of 2015, 39,896 Miyagi residents were still living in temporary housing, and nearly 5,000 were temporarily living outside the prefecture.
I am interpreting the presentation again on Friday, and I will be telling this group about how 15,500 Miyagians live in temporary prefabricated housing, and 3,700 are living temporarily outside the prefecture.
After years of living in cold, cramped, crappy metal boxes, thousands of people here moved into Disaster Public Housing units, which can be permanent apartment complexes, duplexes, and stand-alone homes this year.
2016 was a good year for some people.