Twitters from Japan: Social Media Gives Insight into the Thoughts of the Japanese People Following the Earthquake and Tsunami (Perspective)
(HN, March 26, 2011) -- The Japanese people have been very open on Twitter sharing their experiences following the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan 15 days ago leaving over 20,000 dead or missing.
Below are snippets taken from Twitter of what has moved and touched the Japanese people and international community during these trying times.
*please note: these are rough English translations the original Japanese text and Twitter source have been kept with each story.
During the earthquake
We’ve all been trained to immediately open the doors and establish an escape route when there is an earthquake. In the middle of the quake while the building was shaking crazily and things falling everywhere, a man made his way to the entrance and held it open. Honestly, the chandelier could have crashed down any minute … that was a brave man!
At a congested downtown intersection …
Cars were moving at the rate of maybe one every green light, but everyone was letting each other go first with a warm look and a smile. At a complicated intersection, the traffic was at a complete standstill for 5 minutes, but I listened for 10 minutes and didn’t hear a single beep or honk except for an occasional one thanking someone for giving way. It was a terrifying day, but scenes like this warmed me and made me love my country even more.
Reminded of the goodness of the Japanese people
This earthquake has reminded me of that Japanese goodness that had recently become harder and harder to see. Today I see no crime or looting: I am reminded once again of the good Japanese spirit of helping one another, of propriety, and of gentleness. I had recently begun to regard my modern countrymen as cold people … but this earthquake has revived and given back to all of us the spirit of “kizuna” (bond, trust, sharing, the human connection). I am very touched. I am brought to tears.
Card board boxes, Thank you!
It was cold and I was getting very weary waiting forever for the train to come. Some homeless people saw me, gave me some of their own cardboard boxes and saying “you’ll be warmer if you sit on these!” I have always walked by homeless people pretending I didn’t see them, and yet here they were offering me warmth. Such warm people.
“All of us”
I spoke with an old taxi driver and some elderly staff at the train stations. All of them had been working non-stop and had not been able to go home for a long time. They were visibly very tired, but never once did they show any sign of impatience; they were gentle and very caring. They told me “… because all of us are in this together.” I was touched at what the notion of “all of us” meant to these elderly people. It is a value I will treasure and carry on to my generation.
Touch of art
I saw artists and painters trying to keep things upbeat by painting or drawing beautiful or encouraging drawings for the evacuees around them. I was touched at how everyone was doing their very best to help.
I just have a bike
I’m so touched! My colleague at my part time job, wanting to help even just one extra person, wrote a sign saying “I just have a bike, but if you don’t mind hop on!”, rode out on his motorbike, picked up a stranded construction worker and took him all the way to Tokorozawa! Respect! I have never felt so strongly that I want to do something helpful for others.
The bakery lady
There was a small bread shop on the street I take to go to school. It has long been out of business. But last night, I saw the old lady of the shop giving people her handmade bread for free. It was a heart-warming sight. She, like everyone else, was doing what she could to help people in a time of need. Tokyo isn’t that bad afterall!
A little story about Papa
We live in an area that was not directly hit. When my father came downstairs and heard the news saying that our area had begun allocating electricity to the hard-hit areas, he quietly led by example, turning off the power around the house and pulling the plugs out of their sockets. I was touched. He usually NEVER turns off the lights or the AC or the TV or anything!
Japan is a wonderful nation!
Both the government and the people, everyone is helping one another today. There are truck drivers helping evacuees move. I even heard that the “yakuza” (gangsters, organized crime groups) are helping to direct traffic in the Tohoku region! There have been many recent developments that have made me lose my sense of pride in my country, but not anymore. Japan is an amazing place! I’m just simply touched. Go Japan!
At the supermarket
I just came back safely from the supermarket! Man, I was so touched at how everyone there was mindful of others, buying only as much as they needed and leaving the rest for the people behind them.
A strong voice
Yesterday, I was impressed and touched by the actions of my neighbor’s 13-year-old-boy. He was home alone when the earthquake hit. But instead of hiding, as soon as the earthquake quieted down, he jumped on his bicycle and road around the block repeatedly shouting at the top of his voice, “Is everyone alright? Is everyone okay?” At the time, there were only women and children and the elderly in the homes. I cannot describe how comforting it was just to hear a strong voice asking if I was okay. Thank you!
At the shopping center I work at, every morning we have a ritual (common in Japan) where we stand and recite, “No matter what the situation, I will never show anxiety before my customer; in all customer-facing situations I will treat my customers with respect and do everything I can to make them feel comfortable and at ease”. Today, these words were all actually kind of touching. Well, so the day begins! Here we go people, open shop!
A strong Japan
Suntory Beverages has set up free vending machines. Softbank Telephone services is offering free Wifi spots. Everyone in Japan is putting everything they can into helping one another. Japan is also now receiving aid from abroad. Compared to the Kobe earthquake, when Japan took too long to contemplate accepting foreign aid or dispatching the self-defense force to join the rescue effort, Japan has definitely grown into a far stronger nation. Be strong, everyone!
The beauty of helping one another
I went out last night to help some friends who were volunteering as security personnel between Machida City and Sagami Ohno City. I saw total strangers, both young and old, helping each other along everywhere I turned and was heartened with an overwhelming feeling of encouragement. I was so touched I hid behind the toilets and cried.
Information network this time around
The information sharing efforts on Twitter or USTREAM, together with the quality of coverage and crucial updates provided by the mass media this time around is incomparable to what we got during the Kobe earthquake. I am deeply impressed by Japan’s successful efforts and ability to put to practice lessons learnt from past tragedies.
Message from the UN
Secretary General Ban Ki Moon: “Japan is one of (the UN’s) most generous and strongest benefactors, coming to the assistance of those in need the world over. In that spirit, the United Nations stands by the people of Japan and we will do anything and everything we can at this very difficult time.” I was moved at his words. What better example that good things happen to those who do good.
What foreigners are saying about Japanese people
At a supermarket where everything was scattered everywhere over the floors, shoppers were helping pick them up and putting them back neatly on the shelves before quietly moving into line to wait to pay for them. On the totally jam-packed first train after the quake, an elderly man gave up his seat for a pregnant woman. Foreigners have told me they are amazed witnessing sights like these. I do believe they actually saw what they said they saw. Japan is truly amazing.
From a German friend
A German friend of mine was in Shibuya (downtown Tokyo shopping district) when the earthquake hit. He was panicking when a Japanese passerby saved him, taking him into a building. My friend was blown away at how calm and disciplined this Japanese man was. He went out of the building with firm, unfaltering steps, did everything he was trained to do and came back. My German friend was deeply impressed by the Japanese people’s actions during the earthquake, saying they looked like a trained army.
Twitter is amazing!
The information shared to us all by the twitter community has been amazingly consistent with each other and has been so helpful. Thank you Twitterers! I’m very moved. People recently talk about social networks replacing traditional social life and making people cold and unsociable in real life. But … I guess that’s not true at all.
-stories from Twitter