Roxana Oshiro, a Peruvian of Japanese descent, came to Japan in 1991 and was living in a dormitory in Kobe with her husband and child when the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit the region in 1995.

After a violent jolt, she desperately kicked the door open and got out of the dormitory, which was run by her husband's employer.

"I didn't understand Japanese at the time, and the only word that I understood from some broadcasts was tsunami," Oshiro said. "Taking it to mean a tsunami was coming, I panicked and cried."