OSAKA – Neighbors and family members mourned Tuesday for those who died in the powerful earthquake that rocked Osaka Prefecture a day earlier, including a 9-year-old girl remembered as a bubbly child who often greeted them with a smile.
Rina Miyake, 9, was on her way to elementary school in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, when a concrete wall surrounding the school’s swimming pool collapsed, killing her.
The girl, who lived with her brother and parents, had left for school 10 minutes earlier than usual on Monday to join a greeting campaign as a class representative.
“She usually left for school around 8 a.m. but told me she had to leave early since it was her turn to join the greeting (campaign),” said a 71-year-old woman who lives across the street from the girl’s family. “It’s unfortunate that the quake occurred on this day.”
Another neighbor remembered Rina as a gregarious child. “Since many cars pass close to the school, children usually walked at the side of the road,” the 69-year-old woman said. “I will miss her as she always smiled and waved to me.”
A temporary memorial was set up Monday evening in front of the school, where bouquets of flowers lined its main gate in memory of the girl.
In Higashiyodogawa Ward, Osaka, Minoru Yasui, 80, was also killed when a wall collapsed in the quake.
Yasui, who lived with four other family members, had been bound for his daily practice of keeping watch over children making their way to school.
A few minutes after leaving home and immediately after greeting an acquaintance the quake struck, and Yasui, who walked with a cane, was buried under the collapsed wall of a nearby residence.
Neighbors and family members rushed to the scene, with his wife holding his hand, though they were unable to revive him.
“I feel empty. I just can’t understand how this could have happened,” Yasui’s wife, Sanae, 78, said tearfully.
His son Katsuyuki, 54, echoed her thoughts.
“We had dinner together Sunday night to celebrate Father’s Day,” he said. “I can’t make sense of my feelings.”
Yasui was known to be close to the neighborhood children and was often seen riding his bicycle in the area.
“He must’ve felt invigorated by helping keep watch over children,” Katsuyuki said.
A third victim of the quake, Motochika Goto, 85, of Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, died after being crushed by a bookshelf in his apartment.
He had worked for a major trading company and was known by neighbors to enjoy reading foreign books and taking strolls in the area.
“When my two daughters entered university, he gave them books. He also gave us souvenirs from his hometown in the Kyushu region. He was a kind person,” said a 65-year-old neighbor who declined to be identified.