San Francisco’s Japanese community reeling from quake 

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Northern Japan on Friday, triggering deadly tsunamis, hit San Francisco physically and emotionally.

Whether it was worries about family and friends or worries about when a similar quake will hit San Francisco, a shocked yet somber tone fell across The City this weekend as many in the Japanese-American community went on with their daily lives.

One of the hardest-hit places was the city of Sendai, which sits on the northeast coast, 80 miles from the epicenter of the quake.

That is where two friends of San Francisco resident Eric Fujii live, and they are still missing. The 29-year-old woke up to the news and knew he had to help. He immediately put out word that his family’s restaurant, Ebisu, would be donating 10 percent of revenues from the four restaurants in The City to quake relief.

“It hits close to home,” Fujii said. “I’m hoping for the best, but I’m fearing for the worst.”

He is also using Facebook and e-mail to try and locate friends and family of some of the restaurant employees. Phone communication has been next to impossible and not everyone knows how to use a computer.

“One of our chefs, he’s in his 60s,” Fujii said. “He isn’t exactly tech-savvy.”

San Francisco is one of several West Coast cities with a large Japanese community. There are 14,618 people of Japanese ancestry living in San Francisco, according to the 2000 census.

Many live around Japantown, where Saturday people were milling about and shopping. At the nearby Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, people were playing basketball and waiting for a meeting about a nearby condo project.

The center had no events planned in regards to the disaster, although Executive Director Paul Osaki said Friday that officials there are accepting donations and will send 100 percent of the money to disaster relief.

“The community is as devastated and shocked as the rest of the world,” Osaki said.

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Brent Begin

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