Grandmother’s lessons come in useful

Anxiety of foreigners who did not know Japanese



Grandmother’s lessons come in useful

Toshitatsu SHIMIZU – Representative Director of Toko Shokai Co., Ltd.


■Work related to glass buildings construction

I am a member of the Kobe Konan Lions Club, and have been involved in its activities for about 20 years. Long ago, my father made glass putty, a compound used around the edges of glass windows to fix them to the frame. Now, using that as a hint, I do glass-sealing work. Sealing is a rubber substance used to fix glass to its frame. We make this cushion material for glass used in buildings and other architecture, etc. We were involved in the building of Kobe City Hall, and due to our cushion material, the glass in the building neither cracked nor broke.


■When the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake disaster happened

My house and company in Higashinada Ward were safe. I was very busy with the post-earthquake recovery work which was also mentally very demanding. My company building, which I had rebuilt a year before the earthquake, and my house were safe.


■A strange experience

Two days before the earthquake, the fuse blew in my new house even though we had calculated to allow adequate use of electricity. My wife bought us a flashlight. The strange thing is that that flashlight soon came into good use when the earthquake disaster happened.

■Grandmother’s lessons

My grandmother always had cash ready to take with her if anything happened and put \1,000,000 in her pillow. Learning from her lesson, I always kept cash in the bedroom. And with that money, the day after the earthquake, together with company staff I went to Osaka and bought 40 motorbikes. Because I had cash on hand, I was able to do something. I somehow feel my grandmother helped me.
Many craftsmen who were worried came to the company, so I didn’t have any trouble finding workers.




Anxiety of foreigners who did not know Japanese

Roxana OSHIRO – FMYY DJ, Latin Community Representative




■Radio program – Salsa Latina

Salsa Latina is broadcast on FMYY on Wednesday nights, and to help Latin people in the community to live more easily, information useful for everyday living is presented in Japanese and Spanish. It is also a program that presents our culture and customs.

■Experiencing the earthquake disaster knowing almost no Japanese

I am a 3rd generation Japanese-Peruvian. My grandfather was from Okinawa. I came to Japan in 1991. When the earthquake disaster happened I could speak almost no Japanese.
I lived with my husband in Suma Ward. My cousin who lived in Hyogo Prefecture came to visit us for the 3-day holiday weekend and also became a victim of the earthquake.
Although Peru also has big earthquakes, I had never experienced one. It was the first time to have such an experience, so I was really surprised. My husband is also from Peru and speaks almost no Japanese, so he panicked.


■I heard the word ‘tsunami’, but I didn’t understand

I lived near the sea and could hear the word ‘tsunami’, but, I didn’t understand that the information said ‘A tsunami is not expected’. I joined in with the moving crowd and managed to arrive at a square.
Although quite a long time had passed, I thought it was strange that the sky wasn’t getting brighter, and I became anxious. (The earthquake happened just before 6:00 and normally it would have become quite bright about an hour after that.) After a while, I realized that smoke from fires was causing this unnatural darkness.


■An elderly woman I met in the square

My husband noticed a woman who looked cold and associated her with his mother and felt he couldn’t leave her as she was. So, he returned to the house and got a sweater and gave it to the elderly woman.
Next, the woman took hold of my hand and brought us to junior high school which was an evacuation shelter. In Peru, when a disaster happens, there is no system for people to assemble, so I didn’t know about the system in Japan (going to the evacuation shelter in the school).
In June of the year of the earthquake disaster, the woman came to the apartment we had moved to return the sweater. At the time, I couldn’t speak Japanese so I couldn’t ask her for her address. Although I have met her only three times, I sometimes wonder how she is.


■Working to help Latin people live more easily in Japan

I had trouble when the earthquake happened because of the ‘language barrier’, I couldn’t speak Japanese. I thought that if I am going to live here in Japan, it would be best to learn Japanese. If I had been able to speak Japanese when the earthquake disaster happened, I’m sure things would have been different. Now, I provide different kinds of information on the radio and in our magazine.