I think it’s unclear to people outside of Japan just how distant the March catastrophe was for most people on Kyushu. Although the scale was much larger here, I compare it to life after Katrina in the U.S. If you lived in NYC, you were horrified by what was happening, but you certainly didn’t feel any direct impact. And while you might have kept up on the news, sent donations, or talked about the aftermath, your daily life continued as it always had.
It’s exactly the same here, and in most of Japan. There are no blackouts, no shortages, no radiation warnings, no aftershocks. The few people I knew who fled here for radiation fears returned home long ago. While tens of thousands of lives were changed, millions remained the same.
That said, no one has forgotten. Convenience stores and supermarkets still collect donations. At a recent annual festival, the parade theme was “Ganbarou Nihon,” or “Let’s do it, Japan!” (that’s a bad translation, sorry; ‘ganbare’ is a ubiquitous and tough-to-translate concept in Japanese. Think of Obama voters chanting “Yes we can”, only with a slightly more fighting spirit) I have seen “ganbarou” signs in front of businesses, and there are still inspirational commercials running on TV.
The supermarket is STILL out of large jugs of water, though the yogurt section has fully recovered. People do worry about whether produce is coming from contaminated areas, but way down here in Kyushu we get all our veggies from nearby prefectures.
And finally, yeah, I guess we’re still watching the Fukushima power plant. But on the whole, on a daily level, life is the same.