Central Kitsap grad comes back to Kitsap after Japan earthquake

Ananda Jacobs, right, and her boyfriend Takashi Monma were in Tokyo during the March 11 earthquake. A 2000 Central Kitsap High School graduate, Jacobs has been living in Japan for about five years. - Kristin Okinaka/staff photo
Ananda Jacobs, right, and her boyfriend Takashi Monma were in Tokyo during the March 11 earthquake. A 2000 Central Kitsap High School graduate, Jacobs has been living in Japan for about five years.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka/staff photo

She was placing a contact lens in her eye when the floor beneath her Tokyo apartment began to shake. With no time to put the second contact in, Ananda Jacobs ducked under the door frame of her bathroom with half of her vision. It lasted for two to three minutes. A few dishes fell over but there were no damages to her apartment. She could hear the cries of children at the preschool next door. Then a couple minutes later there were aftershocks from the initial earthquake.

“I knew at that moment, I wouldn’t be relaxed for a while,” Jacobs said last week.

Jacobs, 28, graduated from Central Kitsap High School in 2000, and has been living and working in Japan since August 2006. After the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the northeast region of Japan March 11, she returned to Kitsap four days later with her boyfriend, Takashi Monma. So far from the life she built for herself, she can only wait to see what will happen next.

It’s the same thing she would be doing had she remained in Japan.

“We were at home waiting, just withstanding aftershocks,” she said about being in Tokyo. Work was canceled, leaving her and Monma to repeatedly check radiation levels online and watch the news on TV.

“The numbers would keep coming in, the news just kept getting worse,” she said.

Tokyo is about two hours by train south of the city of Sendai, Monma’s hometown, which was near the epicenter of the quake.

And although it was difficult for Monma to leave his family — they live in Sendai — the two decided to come to Kitsap and stay with Jacobs’ parents in Poulsbo. Jacobs works as a model and musician and said a few friends also came back to the U.S. because of concerned family members, and to regroup.

“There definitely was an orderly exodus,” Jacobs said.

Monma, 31, said his family’s house was prepared for earthquakes and withstood the shaking without major damage. Being on a mountain, they were out of harm’s way from the tsunami. However, Monma’s family was without electricity for five days. Monma kept in touch by sending emails to his brother, which he could check on his phone, telling him possible places to purchase necessities including water as many stores were experiencing shortages. He said his mother has been positive about the situation and with other volunteers, has been making onigiri, rice balls, to distribute to those in need. On Tuesday, he flew back to Japan to be with his family since the trains had begun operating to Sendai once again.

They wanted to help, but felt helpless. Once the couple arrived in the U.S., they began asking Americans to help with the reconstruction effort by donating to the American Red Cross. Monma returned to Japan Monday.

“If there’s anything I can do, I’m ready to do it,” Monma said speaking in Japanese before he left. Seeing the devastating images of Sendai, his hometown for 22 years, it was a shock, he said.

Jacobs remains in Kitsap. When the couple first arrived, they made donations and Jacobs performed at Pegasus Coffee House on Bainbridge Island last Friday — with donations going toward the Red Cross as well. She has a gig scheduled for April 3 in Tokyo that she said will benefit the organization.

Although Japan is a modern, industrialized country with the third largest economy in the world, Jacobs acknowledged some may not think of donating.

“It doesn’t make them any less or more deserving of help,” Jacobs said, who considers the country her home. “Every little bit is appreciated.”

Linnah Jacobs, 63, Ananda Jacobs’ mother, said her coworkers at the Silverdale Post Office gave her money that was sent back with Monma.

“It’s just horrifying to think about,” Linnah Jacobs said.

Ananda Jacobs knows recovery will not happen instantly, but she has hope.

“It’s not over by any means,” she said.

West Sound Red Cross

811 Pacific Ave., Bremerton

(360) 377-3761

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation


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