Lillington siblings recall harrowing Japan trip

Posted March 14, 2011

— Members of the Lillington-based gospel quartet, The Taylors, have reunited with family and friends after a harrowing spring break trip to Japan. 

Jonathan, 23, Suzanne, 21, and Leslie Taylor, 20, were standing on Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, when an 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit on Friday. 

"At first, we thought it was wind, and we started looking at each other," Jonathan Taylor said Monday from the family's Lillington home. "We noticed the ground, and we were moving." 

The quake lasted about three or four minutes, he said. 

The main roads quickly shut down, forcing the group to take a bus down the winding mountain roads. The normal two-hour drive took 14 hours.

"All of the power was out. All of the cell phones were out. The only information we had came from this little TV on the bus that didn't even have good reception," he said. 

Thoughts soon turned to their family back home.

"We knew what they were seeing on the news and knew we had no way of communicating with them," Jonathan Taylor said. 

When they arrived back in Tokyo, they logged online to let their family know they were safe.

"We were crying. We were shouting. We were happy," their father, James Taylor, said. 

The siblings were able to book a flight - the first one out of Japan following the quake - but only had five hours to wade through the thick crowds waiting at the nearest train station. 

"It was lines as long as football fields. It was crazy," Jonathan Taylor said. 

Lillington siblings survive Japan quake Lillington siblings survive Japan quake

A man emerged through the crowd and offered to guide them through the train stations and chaos. He got them to the airport just in time. 

"He took five hours out of his day to take us to the airport," Jonathan Taylor said. "(He) wouldn't even accept any payment. It was unbelievable. It was like an angel." 

The Taylor siblings are members of The Taylors. Their brother and fourth member of the group, Chris Taylor, opted not to go to Japan. He stayed behind in Lillington so he could propose to his girlfriend. 

Find out how you can donate to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami


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  • RTEG Mar 15, 2011

    Yeah, like gopack07 I had similar experiences in Japan. Once a friend and I were trying to find a store that was somewhat hidden, and a man who was obviously in a hurry saw us looking lost as he rushed past, then stopped and came back to guide us to the store. He even apologized to us for rushing along to wherever he needed to be once we found it. Another time I was hauling heavy bags through train stations on my way to the airport, and several people stopped to help me at different points of my journey. They acted like it was their responsibility to assist someone in need.

    People in Japan are just very kind and look out for people. In light of the tragedy, the stranger probably saw they were just trying to get home to and knew they could help.

  • gopack07 Mar 15, 2011

    "He took five hours out of his day to take us to the airport," Jonathan Taylor said.

    The Japanese are very hospitable. I remember asking someone where the train station was (in Japanese). When they replied in Japanese, they could tell I couldn't understand them so they walked about half a mile out of their way to take me to the train station. Would this happen in America? Probably not.

  • howdiditgettothis Mar 14, 2011

    Thank God for the angel that spent five hours helping them.

    I was in Japan for a few weeks, and I found the people to be very hospitable, and helpful. I visited both small and large cities, and found the areas to be safer and cleaner than I'd expected.

    I pray for quick relief for the Japanese people from this tragedy!

  • Riverracer8 Mar 14, 2011

    The Taylors are a great family - so glad they are safe.

  • koolady Mar 14, 2011

    Glad they made it home and are safe!

  • josephlawrence43 Mar 14, 2011

    Gospel or no, I've heard this group--they are just flat out great.

  • antb Mar 14, 2011

    So glad they are safe. They're having a concert in Wilson this Saturday. I'm sure they will make a joyful noise considering what they just went through!

  • luvbailey Mar 14, 2011

    I have heard The Taylors in concert. If you like gospel music these young people are simply the best! Check them out at

    Glad they are home safe and sound!