Sep 2011


Beyond the sadness – Taylor Anderson’s family visits Ishinomaki

This is the Anderson family, who took part in Peace Boat’s clean-up activities.

Taylor Anderson was an assistant English teacher from the United States who lost her life in the tsunami. Taylor was teaching English at 7 schools in Ishinomaki city, a place she was known to love.  Four members of her family came to Ishinomaki on September 8.

Peace Boat was contacted by Taylor’s family because they wanted to volunteer. As a result, the Anderson family participated in Peace Boat’s clean-up activities in the Shintate region.

We interviewed Taylor’s father Andy about his visit to Japan and his motivation for joining the volunteer activities.

This is Andy – a very cheerful person who makes those around him laugh by telling jokes.


Q: Firstly, please let us express our heartfelt condolences for your loss. May we ask you about the reason you came to Japan? How many times have you come to Japan?

Andy: This is my third visit. My first visit was in March last year when the whole family went sightseeing to Kyoto and Nara after visiting my daughter in Ishinomaki. The second time was immediately after the disaster and now this is my third visit.

There are many reasons for this visit, but the main reason is because I wanted to meet with the people my daughter Taylor knew in her neighborhood, the local residents and her students, and talk about our memories of Taylor.


Q: Given that this is your third visit to Ishinomaki, can you tell me about your impressions from each visit?

Andy: When I came immediately after the disaster, I couldn’t believe it, or rather, I wasn’t able to think about anything. The great force of the tsunami that simply destroyed everything in an instant left a big impression on me. I was overwhelmed by the power of nature. It’s been six months since the disaster and you can see that the area is recovering bit by bit. My daughter Taylor loved Ishinomaki and so do we. It is a very important place for us.


Q: Please tell us about your thoughts and reasons behind volunteering to help with clean-up activities on this visit.

Andy: Taylor loved Ishinomaki and Japan and so I thought about what she would have done if she survived the disaster. I am sure that she would have tried hard to help the local residents who are suffering and we as a family felt the same way, which is why we decided to come and help in any way that we could. There is only a limited amount that one can do in a short time but we hope that we can provide encouragement and comfort to the local residents and help Ishinomaki and the Tohoku region towards recovery.


Q: Finally, please share any message that you may have for the people of Ishinomaki and Japan.

Andy: Taylor loved Japan. The rest of the family loves Japan too. That’s why even though we are extremely sad, we are hoping for recovery as soon as possible. Taylor’s soul is still here. As a family we want to carry on her wishes and contribute even in any small way that we can to help the local residents get back to their regular lives.

This is the bright and strong Anderson family (on the right in the front row is Cameron, a Miyagi Prefectural employee who accompanied the Anderson family).


During the interview, Andy spoke many times of how what they were doing was for Taylor, and because Taylor loved Ishinomaki and what she would have done.

All of us are moved by the whole Anderson family who, in the face of great sadness, expressed their strong desire to for recovery as soon as possible.


All photos by Nakamura Mitsutoshi