I have family in Tokyo. So I’ve been glued to the news for the last few days. The short version of the story is that my family is safe, thank goodness.

I got an email from my brother first thing Friday morning (the night of their quake day). He was on a skiing vacation north of Tokyo, though on the west coast AWAY from the tsunami side. My 86-year-old mother was home alone in Tokyo, but he had spoken to her by phone and confirmed she was OK. They are now all safely back in Tokyo.

My mother was at the local grocery store when the quake hit. Things literally started flying off the shelves. After the store owner corralled everyone out to the street, a very kind young stranger walked my mother all the way home to her apartment – about a 15 minute walk away. My mom was very grateful.

And it’s little stories like this that seem to be popping up everywhere. People are hanging together, taking care of each other. There seems to be little panic, no looting or shoving, little of the kind of selfish behavior that makes things worse for everyone. Right now, I’m feeling proud to be Japanese. All the best sides of the Japanese culture are shining through in this crisis.

I got this video this morning that illustrates some of what I mean. It’s a collection of Twitter messages from ordinary people in the midst of it all. It shows beautifully the strong but gentle spirit of the Japanese people as they work together through this crisis. The music is sappy, but I think the message is real.

And here’s a similar story from an American living in Sendai, the city closest to the quake’s epicenter.
A letter from Sendai

And here is one journalist’s view:
In tragedy, Japan impresses the world