Three years ago I was teaching a class at Imagine with T-san.
It was Friday afternoon. Near the end of the lesson there was an earthquake. The coffee in our cups was shaking, the bookcase was shaking - it was a big shake.
She left to go home at 3 pm.
I looked on the computer. There'd been a large earthquake off the coast of north east Japan.
There was another shake. I looked around Imagine and felt nervous. Should I leave?
I called my partner at home.
"Is everything ok at home?"
"Here? Yes, all ok....hang on..hang on....on Tv now....there is lots of water, there are cars in the water! It's a tsunami in Tohoku! Oh........."
He is usually very relaxed about earthquakes. He comes from Honshu. Experienced a lot of earthquakes. But he sounded shocked this time.
I closed Imagine and went home.
I called my student T-san. I know her mother and sister live in Sendai. She said the phone lines were dead. 2 days later she managed to contact them. Everyone was ok.
And that's how it started.
For thousands and thousands of people it has never stopped. It goes on and on.
I've tried to help, to do something.
I donated money in the early days to the Japanese Red Cross. I took part in a sponsored walk organised by my friend in Eniwa. I helped organise a translators team for the documentary "Ordinary Lives".
I did a little.
Imagine supports an NPO in Ishinomaki - It's Not Just Mud.
Every month this school donates Y10,000 to the NPO to help a hardworking team help the fishermen and farmers, the kids and the women of that area make new lives.
I can't go and help in person, because I have a weak knee and family and work obligations here in Sapporo. I think it is better to send money to the group directly, instead of buying a train ticket etc to travel to Tohoku myself.
Every time you come to a class at Imagine and pay me for the class - a little of your money is going to It's Not Just Mud.
3 years. Today at 2.46 pm I will be in Shin-Sapporo. Just finishing a class at NHK.
I will be thinking of that terrible event on a Friday afternoon 3 years ago and thinking of all the people whose lives were changed that day.