Morning of March 11, 2011. As I leave the house for my photoshoot, a massive earthquake takes place in Sendai, central Japan.
These two girls are dressed for their graduation as I stop them for a picture. They do not look Japanese. Probably Korean. They are happy because nobody knows about the earthquake yet.
An hour later, as I reach Hakata, I understand that something is wrong. People are grabbing newspapers from the stacks that sit everywhere around the train station. I can see the large Kanji but I can’t read them. My first thought is that the local team won big. But I sense some panic in the air.
Finally, I stop a TV crew to ask. A guy tells me in broken English. “Earth quake. Tsunami. Japan is in state of crisis now.”
I don’t understand the seriousness of what happened because earthquakes are common in Japan. It takes a while to gather all the details. That thousands were swept into the Sea by the tsunami.
The Fukushima story is yet to unfold. Nobody knows about the nuclear problem at this point.
There was a big event planned for that day: the opening ceremony of the Shinkansen line for the island of Kyushu.