Voices from FUKUSHIMA Vol.10 Rev. Akira SATO

Dear Dad,

The school I graduated from has collapsed, and our hometown is gone. I am so sad and crying every day. I also want to go help those people with you. Since I cannot accompany you, please go help, comfort and cheer them up for me. Turn on your radio and listen. They said the nuclear reactors exploded and it was tremendously dangerous. Please choose the roads that you are taking and drive carefully. But I believe it is just for this occasion that you are a pastor of a church closest to the Nuclear Power Plant.”

Reading her message while I was driving, tears fell fast and non-stop. I showed it to my wife sitting next to me and shivering from a sleepless night also started to cry. Exaggerated it may sound, this may be a one-way trip. A sense of urgency flitted through my mind that going to Fukushima now could mean that we could never go back the way we came. However, I decided then and there that it was not by chance that I was born on March 11, the very day of the Great Earthquake but for this occasion, and that I am going to choose the path that I will take in my life. If I am in the 30’s, I would have succumbed to the immense amount of stress put on me. If I am in the 70’s, my physical strength would have given out. As I already mentioned earlier, I lost nine kilograms during the journey. For almost a year, it was difficult to get even three hours of sleep a night. Thinking and planning about what we would do in the next two hours was hard. My heart was constantly pumping at full speed. I realized that as a 54 years old man, I should have encountered this disaster and that I was born to survive through this disastrous and chaotic time. Although it may not be a catastrophic disaster like this, haven’t you ever had any moment that made you feel that you were born for that occasion?

Lastly, I would like to introduce a picture book that I published in order not to forget this disaster and to pass down our stories to the next generations. The assistant pastor’s wife once was a writer of picture books. She wrote the picture book, with a CD supplement, on the theme of our family dog that died during the disaster. My wife read the story to the koto (Japanese harp) accompaniment. The episodes in this book, from the one about a dog that starved to death to the other that were recaptured a year later, are all true. Since this picture book was published by a non-Christian publication company, we added an extra episode at the end in which our dog was personified and we met each other in heaven so that Christianity is made known to people. Anyway, please enjoy Kubiwa wo Hazushita Papi,​ which translates as “Papi, a dog that slipped its collar.”

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When this was published, the Mainichi Newspaper, one of the national newspapers in Japan, took it up favorably in the book review. In the book itself, I put messages to the readers: It is totally normal for people to feel depressed or to get irritated since they had gone through such awful experiences; None of the deceased wish the survivors to be unhappy; Let us accept each other with a big heart now.

I also want to introduce some other books. The first one is “Rurou no Kyoukai,​ “ which means “The Roaming Church”. This is an account of my thoughts about life which I kept every day a month after the earthquake. A year later, I wrote “Zoku Rurou no Kyoukai​,” a sequel to my previous work to say that I am still alive and surviving. To finalize, I wrote another memoir “Tsubasa no Kyoukai​,” or “Church of Wings.” which was born, to my surprise, out of our journey.

These are my trilogy. It has been translated into German, English, and Korean. After these, I have “​Erabarete Koko ni Tatsu” ,​or “I Stand Here as the Chosen One,” published by the United Church of Christ in Japan.  This is a collection of the talks about the disasters I gave in many places in Japan. I also have ​“Taorete mo Horobizu” ​or ​” If we fall, we won’t perish.” which is a good piece of reportage of our journey after the cataclysm. Reading this, we shed tears because it contained lots of episodes and information that we did not know. A story that was published a week after the disaster is “​Junpuu Yoshi,​​  Gyakkyou mo Mata Yoshi,” ​which means sailing free is great, and passing through adversity is also great. There are other books that I wrote before the earthquake:;”​Kurushimi kara Umareru Mono​”  (Something Born from Sufferings),​ “Inorikara Umareru Mono​” (Something Born from Prayers), and ​“”Shinkou kara Umareru Mono​” (Something Born From Faith). A book “​Atarashii Tabidachi​,” or “A New Start in Life,” allows you to read a page a day, which accumulates 30 pages for 30 days per month. For those who are new to Christianity, we have “​Anata ni Shukufuku ga Arimasu Youni” ​(May God bless you). We also have “​Marukajiri Souseiki​,” or “Dip into the Book of Genesis in Whole,” which contains all of the 50 chapters. There’s also “​Kokoro  no Vitamin A to B,​” or “Vitamin A and B for Our Soul.”

Thank you so much for giving us your time.