The Great East Japan Earthquake hit just as my book was about to be published, and I became very worried about the fate of the lovely people at Isshin in Sendai, a superb sake bar featured in the sake chapter. Sendai was hit by the full force of the earthquake and parts of the city were devastated by the subsequent tsunami.
Last week, I got a letter from Sumiko Yanagisawa, who runs the bar with her husband Koki. They are going through a terrible time right now, but all the staff are OK. Here is a translation of some of the letter:
“Both our bar and the houses of our staff are located in the middle of Sendai city, safe from tsunami damage. Although the earthquake shook our place greatly, the bar itself was not damaged except for a few broken bottles and cracked glasses. We had a battery operated television and during the power cut I watched the TV news. There it was: a horrendous scene of familiar land being swallowed by a massive wave. (I just kept asking questions). How about Nihon Shuzo? What about the fishermen? What about the farmers? I was so worried for their safety.
I have never experienced such terror.
The situation itself is very unstable — the fear of radiation from the nuclear power plant, magnitude 5 level aftershocks etc. — but Isshin is OK.
I have heard Nihon Shuzo took quite a bit of damage but somehow have managed to send out their sake. … Koki (Sumiko’s husband) is currently in an affected area with his car full of things to deliver to people.”
If you ever do find yourself in Sendai, you really have to try to get to Isshin. It is a wonderful place. (B1F Jozenji Hills, 3-3-1 Kokubuncho, Aoba-ku, Sendai; Tel: 022-261-9888). Map.