3/11 Where were you? What have you done?

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Last year the earth shook and the waves came in. While I don’t expect any of my readers outside Japan to have done anything (those of you who have contributed… Thank you.) Everyone who reads this blog and lives in Japan however.

Were you here on that day?

What did you think and feel?

And most importantly what have you done to help since then?

Our school is on the base of a mountain and the buildings are a bit iffy so during the first 5 minutes of the quake I (and most of my teachers) just had silly “oh shit we’re gonna die” looks on our faces. when the shaking didn’t get any worse but continued to happen we just scattered around stopping stuff from falling off the shelves.

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When it stopped we checked the school for damages and I got back to the staffroom and tried to contact people but phones were all dead. All the while the TV was giving us information and warnings of an impending tsunami. It felt like hours but it was only a few minutes when I heard the pitch of the announcers voice start to change. It was serious. Then the footage of waves innundating cities started to come in. LIVE. It was too unbelievable to imagine.It just seemed like the US network war porn where you see CNN video game like footage of yank soldiers creating co-lateral damage in the name of freedom. I just couldn’t associate the human experience with the wholesale destruction the cameras were showing me. I was grateful that he internet still worked so I could get hold of my lady to be sure she was fine but other than that apart from disbelief, the whole weight of the disaster didn’t hit me for a while.

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During the fuel and food shortages I was more pissed off with the selfishness of many of the people I saw and their complete in ability to think past their own immediate situation. It was even more surprising because in truth the earthquake really didn’t do all that much here in Gunma you’d have thought the sky was falling the way people behaved. But as the trucks started returning, the sanity did too.

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It was not until golden week when I went to Ofunato City for the first time that I saw what really happened. It was not until I saw the remnants of lives washed into the ocean and an entire city washed off the map in Rikuzentakata that I could appreciate the scale of the destruction from a human perspective. It was an experience I will never forget. It is the reason I have gone back 2 more times and will return there this golden week again (and intend to do some work in Fukushima a bit later in the year too).


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