Every May, Japan enjoys a long string of national holidays. Well, I say “long,” but it’s only about a week to ten days, so perhaps it’s not as impressive as the vacation periods seen in other countries.

We call this period “Golden Week,” and everyone really looks forward to it. This past Golden Week, I took my sons to some Disaster Memorial Facilities on the coast.


The Disaster Memorial Facilities of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

March 11, 2011 – the day the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami struck Japan. The Disaster Memorial Facilities are the former sites of buildings destroyed by the tsunami, and have been left to teach future generations about the tragedy of that day and the lessons we learned. The coast of the Tohoku region, which includes the ILC Kitakami site, is home to around 300 disaster memorial sites.


But, Dad! It’s Golden Week…

“C’mon Dad. It’s Golden Week – aren’t you going to take us anywhere?”
“Dad’s tired.”

This kind of conversation happens all over Japan – those no-good Japanese businessmen!

A report showed that within families where the father does zero chores/childcare, 90% have only one child. But in families where the father helps over 6 hours a week with chores/childcare, 90% are blessed with a second child. There are a lot of fathers in Japan who don’t help with childcare or chores on their days off. That’s why we have a declining birthrate. I’ve gotta help more with childcare myself!


To the former Ukedo Elementary School

If we’re going to go somewhere, it should have an educational element as well. (That’s what we call in Japanese: “oya-gokoro (parental love)”). So we chose to visit the disaster memorial facility of Ukedo Elementary School in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture.

Ukedo Elementary is around 6km from the nuclear plant in Fukushima, and 300 meters from the coastline. There is nothing else around. However the building remains to show what it looked like on 3.11. The tsunami waves reached the 2nd floor of the building, but some 100 students and teachers were able to take refuge in the hills a kilometer back, and the whole school population was saved.

The new memory for the Norita family

I thought I’d have a lot to write about so I prepared myself, but actually, while we were at the school, a tv reporter interviewed us. I figured I should just post that, as it would probably be easier to understand.

“It’s written here that they held their graduation ceremonies in this auditorium. I saw that, and I wondered if the students who went to this school were able to receive their graduation certificates.”

Japanese elementary students graduate in March – and the tsunami on March 11th was right before their ceremony. When we asked after the interview, the staff were relieved to say, “We weren’t able to have a ceremony, but we were able to give everyone their certificates.”

Towards the end of the interview, my son said this: “This day will always remain in my memory.” I was glad that I brought them.

And that was the memories we made this Golden Week in the Norita family.