Re: Nippon Disaster
I've heard that my family in Sendai City are without water, electricity, etc. but are all okay there. My family that was near the coast weren't quite as lucky, but over all came out alright. My sister-inlaw, nephew, and his two young daughters are all okay and have gone to stay with the family in Sendai City. My sister-inlaw went to fetch her two grand daughters after the quake leaving my brother-inlaw at their house, planning to return shortly. My brother-inlaw was recently paralyzed from the waist down due to a surgical mishap and was confined to a wheelchair. After my sister-inlaw collected her grand daughters the tsunami came and she was unable to return home but rather directed to a refuge center. Her son caught up with her there. Their house was swept away in the tsunami and she believes that her husband perished along with their house.
My brother-inlaw that appears to have been swept away's name was Akama Norihiro. He was at least a 7th degree black belt in Judo. Until his retirement he was a police officer in the Tohoku region as well as Tokyo serving both in deeply rural regions and in major metropolitan areas. He taught Judo and Taiho Jutsu to police and also taught Judo at local public schools. His specialty in Judo was newaza. He also held yudansha ranks in Karate and Kendo. He and I used to hang out due to our common interests. I remember he would call me and tell me that he was going to come and "rescue" me. It was obvious that he was both loved and respected by his fellow officers, Judo students, and the public he served. He acted as "nakado" or matchmaker on more than one occasion and always felt a responsibility for those relationships. He loved seeing me flounder with Judo, nurtured my martial pursuits, and kept me entertained while keeping me out of trouble like a good big brother. We would get completely pasted and then he would routinely slap me in a good natured way just about knocking me out, grab my crotch and then pass out, it was like clockwork, . . . but then he would be up bright and early the next morning and fulfill whatever duties he might have. I really don't know how he stayed in money because he was endlessly spending it on others. He had a philosophy that one should give gifts that one valued one's self. I had to be careful what I might take interest in at his house because the greater the loss to him it seems the more likely he was to give it away. He would not abide selfishness in himself. Akamasan's favorite saying was a quote from Saigo Takamori, "敬天愛人Kei Ten Ai Jin." "Revere Heaven and Love Man." And he lived these words not in a pious and aloof way, but in a earthy, practical and pragmatic way. If, by some miracle, Akamasan is found to have survived the tsunami, I'm sure he will enjoy his years doting on his grandkids and driving his wife crazy. But if he was swept out to sea, I am equally sure that he would be grateful in the knowledge that his mother, wife, sons and grand children survived. The last time I saw Akamasan he took me to Okachi machi which is a small village in Tohoku famous for suzuri (ink stones) because he knew that I love Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy). He bought several suzuri for me and then special ordered a slate sheet custom carved with an image of Shirata sensei doing one of his favorite techniques and had the phrase "Masa Katsu Aa Katsu" carved on the front. HIs students had had a similar slate sheet carved for him with a depiction of his favorite Judo throw carved into it along with the phrase "Kai Ten Ai Jin." He loved his student's gift and therfore wanted me to have one as well. On the back he had the artist carve, "To Allen Beebe whom I love." I love you too Akamasan!
I could write more stories about my brother-inlaw, some of which are hilarious and quite bawdy! But I guess I'll save those for when I go drinking with my fellow Budo bums.
I wonder how many other wonderful people have perished and how many more are in need of our help right now. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it is those that aren't in need that can help those that are. Can you help? If so, won't you help?