- Posted April 8, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
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Miramir Valeriano Says Omens Precede Massive 3/11 Japan Quake, Tsunami
Note: This is about Miramir V. Hiraoka, a Filipino in Japan who survived the massive 3/11 quake and tsunami. Her harrowing experience made her love her husband and the Japanese people more after seeing their exceptional character during grave crisis.
Part 1 of 3
On March 11, 2011, Filipino Miramir (a.k.a. Miramar) Valeriano Hiraoka of Kamisu City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, sensed unusual happenings: Her Japanese husband asked her for a daytime "ofuro" for the first time, then a mirror fell and broke.
She found the request strange because "we always did 'ofuro' after dinner."
When a mirror fell as they were preparing for "ofuro," the more she felt something eerie, the Filipina said.
She said her husband's request for "ofuro" and the mirror falling occurred shortly after they took their lunch. "We managed to complete our daytime 'ofuro,'" she recalls.
While they were resting at 2:46 p.m. (Japan time), the monstrous 8.9 earthquake hit the north-east of Japan, facing the Pacific Ocean. It also forced an equally massive tsunami which made mincemeat of thousands of houses, cars, and buildings.
Large swaths of the country's northeast suffered a catastrophic destruction. Together, the twin calamities killed about 19,000 people. A nuclear disaster also ensued.
I got an opportunity to speak with her through Facebook. She related her harrowing experience – she was ready die -- during the earthquake, the largest to hit the Land of the Rising Sun.
She is a graduate of A.B. Communication Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, in 1981, and my classmate in lower years. We were seatmate.
The alphabetical setting order always put as at the rearest of the class. Her surname starts with “V” and “U” for mind.
After college in 1981, the U.S.T. alumnus then went to Japan to work. Ten years ago, she, then 40, and Akihide Hiraoka, then 50, hit it off well, and got married.
She has since been living with her husband in Kamisu City, about six hours by car to Miyagi Prefecture's Sendai City, where the huge earthquake and the mammoth waves hit at their strongest.
Her husband retired a pensioner three years ago as a senior head of Toshiba's maintenance division. He does not want her to work.
"We are not rich. We live simply. Our two-story house is made of wood and cement, with a garden. I like gardening for it keeps me busy," Miramir V. Hiraoka says.
A blackbelt in judo, Akihide Hiraoka keeps himself busy, she says, as a judo sensei (instructor), volunteering at City Hall thrice a week. He also plays badminton, she added.
The day the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan was really different, she recalled.
"I would say that day was really different and strange. Why? Imagine this, in our many years together we never had 'ofuro' during daytime," she narrates.
She explained that "ofuro" is a Japanese bath with warm or even hot water, where one immerses one's body from 30 minutes to an hour or more for relaxation.
"I usually take my ofuro in 40 degrees Fahrenheit of water while my husband does it at 45 degrees. It can be on a bathtub full of water, or in a jacuzzi. We are lucky we have a jacuzzi at home," she says.
Ofuro is popular among Japanese because of the cold weather and usually just before bedtime, she said.
"But on March 11, 2011, for the first time my husband asked me to have ofuro after lunch. So, I prepared the jacuzzi. Then, I heard a mirror in one of our rooms fell without intervention and broke into pieces," she recalls.
She said she found her husband’s daytime ofuro and the falling mirror very unusual.
"There was no earthquake yet. What I am saying is that these two occurred as if a warning and that something bad was afoot. I am not superstitious, but I really thought they were signs of bad luck," Miramir V. Hiraoka narrates.
To be continued.