Founder Steve Sato’s Journey
Updated: Dec 29, 2018
While crossing the Pacific ocean I felt a sense of connection and strengthening of my cultural ties to Japan. The date was May 1st, 2005. I was on a plane halfway across the ocean from LAX to Narita airport when the stewardess began serving green tea, which indicates that you are a few hours away from the island of Japan. This same journey began for my father, Tadaharu Sato, 42 years ago as he headed in the opposite direction east towards America on a Rotary scholarship for West Georgia college in Carrollton, Georgia. This journey for both of us held excitement and hope of the unknown.
During my first visit to the Tohoku region I was reunited with the Sato family of Japan. The last time they remember seeing me was when I was a child clinging to my mother’s back. At the time I was 1 year old and getting acquainted with the land of Japan. My father died suddenly July, 1980. During this reuniting with my family in Japan we traveled around the countryside and dined on Japanese cuisine. We laughed, my grandmother cried, and I found a missing part of myself in Sendai that late spring 7 years ago. I returned home to Colorado after five weeks of experiencing sprouting rice-fields, the delicacy of eating live sushi and reconnecting with a part of something that was missing from myself for over 25 years. The radiant smiles on the faces of my family while approaching the international customs checkpoint still warm my heart today. My newly found family bond with the Sato’s in Japan was strengthened. Waving goodbye was tough for me as I departed from the Narita airport.
Flash forward to March 11th, 2011. I heard the the news of an earthquake off the coast of Japan while advancing in my career in automotive sales in Colorado. My complete focus that year was positioned towards business and dreams of making 2011 the most successful year of my sales career. We never know what’s around the corner. A question was asked by a colleague of mine: “Did you hear of the the size of the earthquake in Japan?” They said “It’s one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in Japanese history.” I noticed a crowd forming around the television in the waiting area of the building where I was employed. I heard the news reporter stating that a tsunami had hit Sendai City around 2:50 pm (Japan time). This information startled me because one doesn’t typically hear Sendai City spoken about in the international news. The Miyagi prefecture is a small area of farming communities nestled next to the Pacific ocean.
Japan is known for regular earthquake tremors, however after waking the next morning the situation had turned deadly. The 30 ft. wall of waves took out 3 miles inland of heavily populated towns off the coast of the Tohoku region and ravished the Sendai area. My heart raced and feelings of helplessness invaded my thoughts while watching the devastation captured on smart-phones by residents running from the tsunami waves.
My family in Japan was in grave danger and their hometown that I visited just a few years ago could have been destroyed in the blink of an eye and with it the connection to my father, his land and my family living there.
The 9.0 earthquake of March 11, 2011 disrupted our global economy within days. The days after the earthquake were eclipsed by the nuclear reactor explosion in Fukushima. The tsunami wave destroyed over half a million homes and businesses. Today there are mountains of rubble piled up into towering masses around Japan. The biggest one is equivalent to 19 years worth of trash.
What’s next for Japan?
We seek to find compassion within ourselves to help the people of Japan who have lost everything. While being ambassadors of kindness in our global community, KASA’s mission is to assist people in the rural communities of Japan hit the hardest by natures’ wrath, we can offer them a hand of hope during this time of confusion and loss. KASA understands the struggle the people of Japan are going threw and currently is organizing projects to assist in their recovery process.