Looking back on memories in Suzu


 “Hey, did you see that? A shooting star just passed by.”

“Yeah, I did. It’s my first time in my life to see a shooting star so close.”
We had this conversation last summer.

Suzu City is my second hometown, and I always go there twice a year since I was a little child. And after I got married, my husband also visit together.

My grandmother who had been devastated by loneliness ever since my grandfather passed away. But when we visit her, she always served us her fish dishes with a happy smile.

Relatives gather around the table and have some casual conversation. I took that time for granted and thought it would come every year.

However, that wish no longer seems to come true.

Because Suzu City was struck by an unprecedented huge earthquake.

Stand Stunned

The day we said goodbye to 2023 and hello to 2024.

Although the scene was the same as usual, on this day, my husband and my friend went out for a New Year’s shrine visit.
After that, we were supposed to go to Suzu City in Ishikawa Prefecture in the evening.
We were looking forward to seeing my grandmother and to eating her special zoni.

It was around 16:00. We finished our packing and we were about to go out.
But then, the earthquake pre-alert sound came out from our phones at the same. The floor began to shake slightly, and I heard the sound of crackling all over the place. At that moment, I got goosebumps all over my body, and I panicked.

We gathered in one place and evacuated to a place where as safe as possible. When I hurriedly checked the news, it said “A huge earthquake is occurring off the coast of the Noto Peninsula.”

As if my blood was draining

I felt that this earthquake is something different from the usual ones.

On the TV, a newscaster kept shouting over and over again “” Tsunami is coming! Tsunami is coming!”

My grandmother’s house was located quite near the sea. Her house would definitely be washed away if a tsunami came.

Even though I was panicking, I immediately contacted my cousin who had visited grandma’s house earlier.

“Hey, there’s a tsunami coming! Just run to higher ground! You don’t have to reply! Just run, run!”
I kept sending messages on the phone over and over again.

The only reply I received from her was “Grandma’s house has already collapsed. It’s terrible.”

Even though I felt my blood draining, I continued to send messages. But here was no response from my cousin. Maybe it’s because she was on the run.

The familiar scenery

How much time has passed?

I did a lot of research about Suzu City, relying on the information about the earthquake on the internet. I kept waiting for my cousin’s reply.

Then, as the sun set and night fell, I received a reply saying, “We managed to escape.”

“Did everyone evacuate safely?”I asked, and the reply came back, “We managed to escape on a mountain.” I felt as if I had lost my tension.

As I felt relieved, I started to check the news again.
The scene that was broadcasted on the TV was completely different from anything I had seen before.
The places I used to go to and the scenery filled with so many memories were completely destroyed.

Being so far away, the only word I could think of was helplessness, and there was almost nothing I could do.

But the only thing I could do at that time was to contact my cousin as much as possible to make her feel at ease.

Leaving the familiar place

Three days after the earthquake, my father headed to Ishikawa by himself and brought my grandma and my cousin back with him.

Grandma just kept crying and she kept saying, “Grandpa is gone and now we lost our home, too.”

My cousin also seemed exhausted due to the disaster.

There has never been a day when I didn’t know what to talk or what to do to help them feel better.

No matter how close to the feelings of those who have experienced that horror and those who have not, the sadness and despair that they experienced cannot be measured.

But while they were here, I went out with them to make them relaxed and refreshed.

It was at least a relief for me that the two of them were able to smile while I was together.

The house of memories is…

The house I had visited many times since I was a child was destroyed by the earthquake, and red paper was pasted on the walls, saying that it is dangerouse to go inside the house.

I still remember the unique smell of the sea breeze when I go to the house in Suzu.

However, I can no longer enter the house.

It’s no one’s fault, but even though there’s no way we can compete with the power of nature, and I’m filled with a sense of helplessness.

I can’t go back to the place where my memories with my grandparents were filled with laughter…

I still can’t forget it

Since then, I have unconsciously avoided news about the earthquake. I am not a victim of the disaster, nor am I the person who experienced that horror.

Compared to the people who are living in more difficult circumstances or who are still living in evacuation centers, my feelings are really small.

However, I can’t help thinking back to what happened that day.

I felt like I was surrounded by fear, like I didn’t feel alive, like I’d lose my home and family because of the earthquake.

This earthquake reminds me something. Last November, my family had the opportunity to visit Tohoku Earthquake reconstruction site.

Many people died as a result of the tsunami in 2011, and some lost their lives due to landslides and the collapse of their houses.

The words I saw there overlap with Noto Peninsula Earthquake.

“On the news and on TV, we often hear things like “We are starting to see signs of recovery,” or “How long will it take to recover?”
However, for us, it still doesn’t feel like recovered completely. We are overwhelmed with sadness every time we remember those days and think about the memories and the people we love.
Even though the world is talking about recovery, our feelings still don’t follow it so well. We think that the true meaning of“recovery”is that everyone can smile from the bottom of their hearts. It is not about reconstructing buildings nor the vitality returning to the way it was, but people’s feelings looking forward to the future.


After the earthquake, I hesitated to write an essay about this topic. I couldn’t organize it the way I wanted, and I couldn’t muster up the courage to put it into writing.

The house of my memories has collapsed, and I don’t know when I will be able to go to Suzu again.

However, by writing about it, I may be starting to see the reality little by little.

Finally, I would like to offer my prayers for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives in the earthquake, and I sincerely hope that the victims of the disaster will gradually start to feel better and that one day they will be able to spend their lives with smiles on their faces.