Skip Navigation

Letters from Sendai

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan left more than 20,000 dead or missing. Villages were swallowed by a wall of water that surged through coastal communities, demolishing everything in its path, and a nuclear emergency followed as radiation began leaking from the Fukushima energy plant.

North Texans are among many who have responded with donations and encouragement, reaching out in particular to the people of Sendai, a Friendship City to Dallas. In return, people in Sendai still living with the aftermath have sent letters to KERA, telling us how the disaster has changed their lives.

Through a partnership between KERA and the Japan America Society of DFW we have translated letters from our Sendai correspondents and presented moving excerpts for our KERA broadcasts. In return many Texans have sent their words of encouragement to the people of Sendai through this website.

» Share: Write your own letter to the people of Sendai


Noriko Memezawa

Memezawa, 59, is a director at Miyagi University who details some of the ways life has changed following the earthquake and tsunami.

Toshiaki Takaya

Takaya, 42, is an employee in the finance department at Sendai’s Miyagi University of Education – as well as a martial arts competitor whose discusses his experiences volunteering with the cleanup in his city.

Gen Shoji

Shoji, 24, is a university student and director of a group that supports sustainable farming. He talks about efforts to restore the region’s rice paddies, a staple in Japanese cuisine.

Mark Stroud (cc) flickr

Related Content

Project produced in cooperation with

  • Tim Jones

    Thanks Memezawa-san.  Please know that we will not forget you and all of our friends in Sendai and Miyagi-ken. 

  • Brad Sperling

    Your story is important to keep the situation in our thoughts.  You are in my prayers and will not be forgotten.

  • I was fortunate to live in Japan for a while. Before moving to Japan, I had envisioned a very rigid structure, where the children could not be “kids”, but what I found was a place that embraced their children. Everywhere I went (orphanages, schools, markets, train stations) I was constantly struck by the light you could see the children. I was surrounded by these smiling little faces, which were so happy. Even when there mouths weren’t smiling, their eyes were. Children are amazingly resilient and I truly believe that thru their smiles, laughter, and joy; the rest of Japan will begin to find some peace and healing. My heart and prayers go out to all of those affected by this disaster. Even in the face of the great spiritual darkness that can follow a disaster; you are spreading your own light. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, but most importantly your hope with others. You will all remain in my thoughts and prayers

  • Bert Shimabukuro

    I spent three wonderful years along the coast an hour north of Sendai, and spent most of my weekend in Sendai. I would like to thank everyone who has given their time, money, and prayers. There are still many people living in shelters and flies swarm over piles of rubble that have decaying sealife mixed in.  This video link is in Japanese but a this video shows the hard conditions people are living with.  Anything you can do is greatly appreciated.

  • Mak Takemura

    Thorough understanding of what was happening in the suffered area reminded me to appreciate for not only humanity but also water, earth, ocean, air, energy, plant and animal. Thank you very much for sharing the story. I will keep pray for Japan. 

  • I am Japanese who live in North Texas for 6 years now. I
    never felt more proud of the people in my home country who quietly and
    patiently cope with this once-in-a-thousand years disaster.  I was fortunate to spend one week in Sendai
    area two weeks ago and served as a volunteer for cleanup effort.  There are still so many things to get
    done.  People in North Eastern Japan are
    well known for their resilience.  I will
    continue supporting them by thinking of them every single day.

  • Dittakaur

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful program.
    As time goes by, we tend to forget the tragedy and not appreciating all the blessings we have.  Noriko’s letters remind us the imporatance.

    Thank you.

  • Terry Chijiiwa

    I just moved to Sendai in mid May from Allen, TX for my new job assignment.  Before I came here I was wondering how people in Sendai makes living after the big earthquake and tsunami, but in the central Sendai, their life seemed to get back to normal.  They are not looking down but looking up.  On the ohter hand, recovery in the areas near the shore where tsunami swept everything away is slow.  They need more help and support.
    Fukushima nuclear power plant is still a big issue, too.
    People in Sendai lives with big appreciation for continuous supports and prayers.  They believe that they can re-build their town back in the future.

  • James Smith

    I was in the US Army in Gumma Ken in 1956-57 where I enjoyed the beautiful simplicity of the Japanese culture which I enjoy to this day.  I learned to converse with many residents of the area on short bicycle trips into the countryside where I enjoyed tea at native homes. Before leaving Japan n 1957 I was learning Hiragana
    script.  Today I can still say Japanese phrases such as: Nippon ni imasihta jugo yon nen mai plus other greetings.
    I have many photos from the area near Kumagaya and a few from Tokyo.  I practiced my Japanese on the train from Ueno Station with native travelers.

    The people of Japan have shown the world insights into their true cultural identity of patience and human resilience.

    James Smith

  • Mark Berry

    Thank you KERA for broadcasting Letters from Sendai. People of Dallas need to know what’s going on with our sister city in Japan. Just because it’s not top news anymore doesn’t mean it’s over. Sendai is years and billions of dollars away from recovery. Towns like Kessenuma that were completely wiped out and now suffer from 80 – 90% unemployment need our thoughts, prayers and whatever support we can provide. Looking forward to the next Letter from Sendai!

  • Amanda Trieu

    Thank you for broadcasting letters from Sendai. Although it has been about 4 months since the disaster, many people have forgotten how much suffering there is out there. This is a good way to keep those updated. I hope Sendai comes to a quick recovery. Thank you for those who have supported Japan through various events. 

  • Ed and Kyoko Jones

    It is at this point, when things seem quiet that people face their greatest needs – ones that become invisible to others and create a sense of being forgotten. During the past two weeks, we have had the opportunity to speak with farmers and fishermen in the tsunami devastated areas along the coast. They are trying to rebuild their lives, but 90% of the fishing boats were swept away and large swathes of farmland have to be desalinized and have metal, glass shards and other debris removed from the soil. The planting season has been totally lost for the farmers. In fact, the ones we spoke to figure on at least three years until reasonable recovery. The fishermen feel this is an optimistic estimate. Still both take a great deal of heart from the support they get from overseas. Many schools and government buildings have wall space dedicated to displaying the messages they receive – It really does mean a lot to the people here. So we deeply appreciate KERA’s work in encouraging this sort of response.

  • Golf3334

    We, people living in Sendai, appreciate for all the kind help from the people in US. The communication of young students will be beneficial for both sides. We wish this kind of collaboration continues for a long time.

  • Tak

    It was interesting to know that through her own experience, she could sympathize more with folks that are in need abroad.  I am also related to Tohoku and it was such devastating experience but we also have to step forward in positive ways.  It is great that neighbors began to care each other by saying hi and checking how the seniors are etc.

  • Rei Sato

    I am writing this comment from Sendai.
    I hope many people in Dallas will listen and learn more about Sendai and Miyagi.
    It will be a long journey until we completely recover from this disaster but we will take one step at a time.

  • Lberry

    People of Dallas need to know what’s going on with our sister city in Japan .  I count on KERA to cover story from around the world good and bad .  I think we should keep in contact with Japan  especially during hard times as now.  Thank you KERA for broadcasting Letters from Sendai. This way I feel I can know what is going on there and I can continue praying for the many things they need.

  • Dana Billingsley

    Many, many of us continue to pray for you…here are my prayers for the poeple of Sundai.

    RENEWALAs cries are heardaccross the earthof lives forever changed;as tears are shed on broken lands,and pain is stabbed at precious hearts,we ask that You calm these cries,heal these broken lands,and bring all good,strength, loverenewedagain.
    A PRAYER FOR HEALINGLord, You see our hearts;we are aching, wishing we could grantthousands of miraclesfor those facing more sufferingthan we have ever known.We know this is an imperfect world,but in You, many things will bemade whole again; we ask for miracles of healing,big and small for every inch of this world in need.Buildings will crumple and houses will fall; they will be rebuilt,but only You can offer the true peacethat eases the deepest of pains.We ask that You bring that peace, that comfort, to the most broken of hearts in this world.Let those who remain standing and able be filled with inspiration and strengthto become a blessing in any way they can;bless the donations pouring from around the world,protect them against corruption, and bring those funds exactly where they need to be.Lord, You run to us – even when we’ve acted our worst;how much more must You long to run to us,when our worlds are literally torn apart?We ask that You pour into the hearts and minds of those we so ache for, that healing embrace only You can give.

  • Mark Berry

    Really enjoyed this 2nd installment of the Letter from Sendai project. I can really identify with Takaya-san’s feelings. We also had a big event planned in Sendai. We had lots of work and preparation invested. Sendai was forced to cancel the event. I also felt bitter toward the earthquake and tsunami. I asked myself why did this have to happen. That’s what makes a project like this so important. It helps us identify with others that we had no idea we shared the same emotions. Thank you Takaya-san for sharing. Thanks KERA for broadcasting. Thanks to all the volunteers that are a part of this project.

  • Risa Foster

    Thank you, KERA, for this series.  Hearing individual accounts and experiences have been extremely powerful for me.  It’s also been a great reminder that 4 months after the disaster, there are still many things that need to be done, and more things that we can all do to help. Please keep this going and help keep the message fresh in our minds.

    To people of Sendai, please know that we are all with you and behind you, and hope for full recovery!!

  • Kim Stark

    Thank you for posting these letters from Sendai. It is important to keep the people of Dallas updated as to the current progress in Japan.  As an athlete who was scheduled to compete in the Sendai International Half Marathon, I was devasted to hear of the destruction and suffering caused by the disaster. It is easy for the average American to forget about the current struggles that the Japanese face in their recovery efforts since it’s no longer being widely publicized. I found Takaya’s letters inspirational because I can only imagine how hard it is to train to compete, while also volunteering to help his community get back to some sense of normalcy. Please keep posting these letters so that we can stay updated on their progress and be reminded to keep them in our thoughts and prayers!

  • Mcgookam

    Dear ladies and gentlemen of Sendai, Japan and surrounding areas,
    My husband and I are so sad you are suffering such tragedy from the earthquake and tsunami. I fly to NRT frequently and have brought supplies and yen to help people get back on your feet. I have a friend in Chiba who has gone to Sendai to help. My family has sent money through the Japan-America Society of Hawaii to help as well. You are not forgotten. Although Sendai and the prople of Sendai may not be the top news feature with each passing day, I think of you EVERY DAY and pray for your well being. K. McGovern of Grapevine, Tx ( part of the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area).

  • Steven Henderson

    The pictures and letters are truely heart gripping. As I read the letters it seemed clear we have no idea of their pain and suffering.   Toshiaki is very admirable in his calling to bring recovery to the City of Sendai and surrounding area.  I’m so impressed by the Japanese culture and resiliance of the people.  I cannot imagine what a normal day is like for our Sister City now.  Nothing seems normal.  I pray god brings healing and recovery to all affected in Japan.

  • Sandysjones

    Letters from Sendai is a very meaningful KERA series.   I passed
    through Sendai on a train to Kessennuma a few years ago and met many wonderful
    people in the educational system there.  When
    I heard about the Tsunami, my heart was immediately filled with concern for the
    adults and school children I met as well as all people in the Tsunami’s destructive
    path.  Months later, I still have them in
    my prayers and thoughts.  They are not
    forgotten, and my hope is that all the money that has been donated through
    various agencies is getting to those who need it most.  I know it will be a difficult journey to
    restore the land, the fishing industry, and the livelihoods and personal lives
    of the people. I would like to offer 3 quotes as support for everyone
    devastated by the Tsunami and the people of Sendai and Kessennuma who have shown
    incredible strength, community, perseverance, and resiliency in the face of

    “When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the
    damage by filling the cracks with gold. 
    They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it
    becomes more beautiful” -Barbara Bloom

    “We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey” -Kenji

    We acquire the strength we have overcome” -Ralph Waldo

    Know that your brothers and sisters in Dallas hold you close
    to their hearts and will continue to pray for, participate in, and support
    recovery efforts.  I am sure the strength
    of the journey you are travelling will lead to something beautiful.  

  • Creekwoodspringrain

    My friend in Tokyo sent me a translation of an article that appeared in a newspaper that described how the people of Sendai are working to restore their beautiful tansu chests that were damaged in the flood.   These chests contained the precious momentos of lives lost.  Take care people of Sendai.

  • Mika_katana

    I am
    writing from Sendai.  I truly appreciate
    this program.  Each of us has a different
    story from what happened on March 11, and every single one of them is so
    special, something you can never forget. 
    I feel that we, who survived this once-in-a-thousand-years-disaster,
    have a duty to tell the world about what we have gone through.  More than four months have passed since the
    earthquake, and people in Sendai have gone back to their normal lives except
    for those in the hardest hit areas . 
    Because of that, I fear that the tragedy will soon be forgotten unless
    media talks about it.  That is what it
    feels like even here in Sendai, so I can easily imagine how people may be
    losing interest in us over in the United States.  I hope this program will be successful by
    helping the people of Dallas remember what happened in Sendai.


    We have
    received so much support from Dallas since the earthquake.  I feel warm every time I hear and see your
    encouragement and support.  There is a
    long road of recovery ahead of us, but we are moving forward.  I would appreciate it very much if you would
    keep us in your thoughts and continue to support us.  Thank you.

  • Prayerforfreedom

    A few weeks ago I went to Sendai to do relief work, I saw first hand mountains of trash and cars piled higher than houses. As I worked along side students from Tokyo that were spending their summer helping the people rebuild their lives.The people of Japan amazed me and forever have changed my life through their understanding of honor, integrity and love for their country. I pray that more people will go and help in their need.

  • Prayerforfreedom

    A few weeks ago I went to Sendai to do relief work, I saw first hand mountains of trash and cars piled higher than houses. As I worked along side students from Tokyo that were spending their summer helping the people rebuild their lives.The people of Japan amazed me and forever have changed my life through their understanding of honor, integrity and love for their country. I pray that more people will go and help in their need.