Exchange student Skype's from local McDonald's to find family in Japan

By: Ryan Calhoun Email
By: Ryan Calhoun Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock -- Friday, March 11, 2011

MARTINEZ, GA. -- A Westside High School exchange student starts his day panicking, but ends it in joy after he connects with his family via Skype at a local McDonald's. His parents live one mile away from the coast near Tokyo in Japan.

Taro Nakamura woke up this morning and said he didn't even know there was an 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Japan. He said he found out from his classmates at school and that's when he started to worry about his family.

"I took a class, but I was really nervous," Taro said. "I have to find them."

To find them he needed an Internet connection and the ability to use Skype so he went to a local McDonald's to use their Wi-Fi. Shortly after 2 p.m. he was able to reach his mother, Sakae.

"Everybody is fine and OK," Sakae Nakamura said.

It brought a smile to Taro's face before he asked, "Is my Dad there?"

His mom replied in Japanese, but then Taro turned and told News 12, "He's in the bathroom," which made the 18-year-old laugh.

Earlier this morning, the Westside High School Senior couldn't find anything to smile about. His home is one mile off the Pacific Ocean in Yokohama, which is near Tokyo.

He said he misses the ocean because he use to see it everyday, but right now he doesn't miss it at all.

Luckily the epicenter is more than 100 miles north of his home so it didn't get washed up, but he says it definitely felt the quake.

"I've never felt such a frightening experience," Sakae told News 12 via Skype at McDonald's. "I was scared, very scared."

He said his father and brother were in Tokyo and his mother said she was at a friends house.

"The car was shaking and so were the goldfish," Sakae said.

"The tank of goldfish was shaking, spilling out water," Taro later translated.

It caused fishbowl water to spill, but he's glad that's the only water damage she witnessed.

"I'm a pretty lucky boy," he said.

Lucky to say the least.

When News 12 asked Taro's mother if she was ready for him to come home she laughed and told him in Japanese, "You can stay as long as you want to."

Taro smiled and was happy to hear that because he wants to finish the school year out at Westside High School, studying Marketing and learning more English. He's happy to have a home to go home to when that time comes, he said.

Now he just hopes his friends in Sendai are lucky enough to survive too.

"I hope they're fine and God bless them," he added.

While they were Skyping she said she would feel aftershocks, but she says they weren't too bad. Because of that, Taro let her go and went to his soccer game. He plays for Westside High School who beat Harlem High School, 3 - 0. He said he didn't score a goal, but he did get an assist in the game.

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