Japan Stands Strong
Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple)
I made it back safe from Japan. I'm doing just fine. It was an… interesting trip.
I was not near Sendai when the quake hit: I was in and around Tokyo for most of the trip. I definitely felt the quake in Mitaka where I was at the time, but it didn't feel like a disaster had just occurred; just a run-of-the mill strong quake. If I had not watched television or checked the internet I would have never known there was any sort of disaster going on. The areas that were affected were certainly devastated but Tokyo itself barely seemed to flinch. As I contrasted what I was seeing in person with what the news was reporting I couldn't help but feel that everybody was making a bigger deal of the disaster than the Japanese themselves. The Japanese citizens, at least those in Tokyo, seemed more concerned with simply taking care of the problems and living their lives rather than propagating endless panic like the rest of the world.
The disaster gave the rest our vacation an odd flavor but certainly did not leave a bad taste. We knew something horrible had happened but we couldn't find all that much evidence of it. A lot more places were closed the next few days than would be normal, but the city was far from shut down. A few business owners had large messes to clean up but there was no doubt that when these messes were cleaned business would continue as usual. The day following the quake, after some uncertainty, our group decided to do as the Japanese themselves: we took the inconveniences in stride and went about our normal business, which in our case meant being on vacation and enjoying Tokyo.
That in itself is a testament to the Japanese people. We toured Japan DURING a disaster and it was still amazing. In fact, watching these people take this event with such remarkable valor, pride, humility and calm made me that much more endeared to them. I honestly don't think any other country could have handled this event better than Japan. These people are role models to the world in so many ways: this is probably the first time I've returned from a pleasure vacation with such a strong sense of simply wanting to be a better person. I owe it to their example.
I wanted to give some time to the obvious elephant in the room regarding a trip to Japan over the last week, but this post/photo will probably represent the only time I directly discuss the disaster. I wish no disrespect to the people of Sendai, Fukushima, and other affected areas: it was horrible and I urge you to help in any way you see fit. However, if I learned anything from the Japanese people it's that you can't let hardship hold you down and you have to go about living your life. I don't want to represent Japan as a place of disaster because that would simply be inaccurate. What I want to show you is the beautiful Japan that was shown to me and the wonderful times I had with my friends while there. I learned firsthand that no matter what happens, Japan stands strong. I hope the worst is behind us and things get back to fully normal for Japan soon: I can't wait to go back to experience the sights, and most of all, the people.