Life after the earthquake

20 May

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.

3 Responses to “Life after the earthquake”

  1. Jane May 21, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    Hi there, I was completely influenced by the quite irresponsible reporting of the disaster in Japan… and made a decision not to take up an April position as a JET ALT in Fukuoka. I completely regret this decision now. So thank you for your delightful, thoughtful, well-written blog… it always makes me think of what could have been.

    • tarasensei May 21, 2011 at 7:05 am #

      I’m so sorry you were influenced by that in your decision. For sure, you’ll find another exciting path and it’ll all work out for the best. But I hope you do get to experience life in Japan (and make it to Kyushu!) at some point.

      I wonder how many other JET applicants came to the same decision you did – I believe plenty of folks up north chose to leave, but I never thought about the new applicants. I’m sure you’re not alone.

      • Jane May 21, 2011 at 7:41 am #

        I think (and hope) other applicants are more courageous and sensible than me… plus I guess the majority of Jets are arriving in July/August and the situation in the north has settled substantially since the early days after the quake. Luckily I have been to beautiful Kyushu before… but it doesn’t make my stupid decision any easier to live with unfortunately. Keep your beautiful blog postings coming!

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