When news of the 2011 Tsunami reached the UK, I had a very personal reaction to it. I felt that I needed to tell the story of what happened that day, in a way that people outside of Japan could relate to. None of us know how we would react in this kind of situation - and I wanted to show that we are all frail, that none of us is perfect, also to highlight the plight of the 60,000 people who are still displaced - their communities too contaminated to return to.
Writers like Haruki Murukami, Ryu Murukami, Banana Yoshimoto and Hideo Furukawa had inspired me with a love of the culture and philosophy of Japan. And I loved the darkness of them: they weren't afraid to look human frailty in the eye. However, I couldn't have written this book without having visited Japan myself, to experience first-hand the landscapes, the people, and the devastating after-effects of the Tsunami.
Travelling around Japan to research the book took me to places I wasn't expecting - both mentally and physically. At times it was loney, at others inspiring. I was effectively illiterate - armed only with a little spoken Japanese - but everywhere I went i found people who were eager to help me understand Japan better, and who wanted to me to tell their story. It is a testament to the strength, resilience and determination of the Japanese people that they have reconstructed so much, but there is still a lot to do.
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