It’s now been three years since that fateful day in 2011 when the Great Tohoku Earthquake struck. I remember the day well. I was in Vietnam, in a town called Dalat. I had just arrived, and went out for dinner with a nice chap I met at my guesthouse. We were talking through dinner and I mentioned that my next destination was Japan. Well, after a couple of weeks in Laos. My new found friend looked at me in shock and said he didn’t think I’d be going there after what had happened today. What had happened? Massive earthquake and tsunami! Oh…
I spent the evening and wee hours of the next morning watching TV sucking in what was going on in Japan. The footage of the waves hitting parts of Sendai and picking everything up in their paths. I was strongly urged by most travellers I met in the next three weeks in South East Asia not to go to Japan. I was told I was mad – who knew how dangerous the Fukushima situation was?
But in the end I did go. And if I hadn’t well, I wouldn’t have returned and spent two years here teaching English. AND I wouldn’t have met my wife. So it’s funny the way things turn out. But I can never EVER fully understand what it was like to be here on that day, to live through the following weeks and months after the impact of the earthquake and tsunami. All my students though went through that. I often wondered how they were affected. My main school is 25 kilometres from Kesenumma, on the coast. It was devastated by the tsunami. My school took some students, I am sure, who lost their school because of it.
And things are not all tickety-boo three years later. There are still people living in temporary housing, clean up efforts continue and we really do not know the extent of the dangers posed by Fukushima, about half-way between here and Tokyo. In fact, the government in December enacted a law basically preventing people from reporting on Fukushima, and before that the people of Japan received precious little information about it.
I have been on Facebook today and I had planned to blog about places in Tohoku encouraging people to visit. I will save that for later in the week though, the mood on facebook from others in the region seems to be one of sombre reflection and a little anger that still not enough has been done. This link to photos of the devastation was shared on Facebook, I’m sharing it with you. Take care.