• 2021.03.30
  • March 11
March 11, 2011. The date of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
It’s a day that will be etched in the memory of every Japanese person forever.
Even in Portugal, where news of Asia is scarce, scenes of the disaster were shown everywhere.

I was on my way to work that morning when a co-worker called out to me. “There was a huge earthquake in Japan. Is your family OK?”

Thinking it was type of thing that happened all the time, I casually replied that earthquakes were a common occurrence, and I was sure they were fine.

But then they showed me the images. This was no minor earthquake.

I thought I was watching a fast-forward video of fields on fire.
The speed at which the color changed while everything fell like dominoes… at first I had no idea what I was looking at.

The day before I had met up with a former teacher who had flown in from Japan, and I rushed to contact him—worried that he wouldn’t be able to get back.

It’s been ten years since that day.
The difficulties may never go away completely, but recovery is slowly but surely moving ahead.
People are amazing in their ability to push forward towards brighter days.

March 11, 2010.
The day my son was born.
The moment another important page in our family’s history was written.
Momo was excitedly taking videos, saying that the next great soccer player had been born.

That was the morning I finally felt the contractions come on.
When I got to the hospital, the nurse asked me if I’d like to come in and lay down, since the pain was about to get a lot worse.

It was my second child, so I still felt that I could handle it.
“I’m fine,” I replied casually. “It might be nicer to be out in the courtyard here. It’s beautiful outside and there’s a lovely breeze.”

But just about an hour later, I returned to the nurses’ station.

It was like a scene out of a movie. The doctors were running around, Momo was cheerfully chatting with the nurses. It was a painless childbirth, so I remember everything clearly.

And with perfect timing, my mother—flying into Portugal from Japan—called to say she had arrived.

And now, it’s eleven years later.
There’s my zombie son sitting there, eyes glazed over from his addiction to video games and YouTube…


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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