Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Earthquake, Japan, and Me - End

My four months in Okayama was over in a flash, faster than a Shinkansen flying down the train tracks to its destination. Because I wanted to visit Tokyo at least once in this trip, I had arranged for my flight returning home to be from Narita airport. By the time my semester was over I was certain things had cleared up in the capital and I would get my time in the city. 

Village Vanguard - Shimokitazawa
I ended up staying with the same host family who let me stay in their house in Saitama when I was in high school. They had told me they were fine from the earthquake, but that Tokyo was still quite scary with all the smaller earthquakes happening frequently. Their house was off in the country side and it gave me the peace and relaxation I needed after such a long journey from Okayama and even more so a much needed rest from all that had happened in the last four months: four months studying the Japanese language and culture, practicing with the members in my band in Jazz club, hanging out with the other international students, meeting new people, experiencing so many new things and being to so many new and exciting places I had only seen in books…this was all finally over and the few days I spent with my host family cooled me down to go back to my life at home. But even now I was reminded of what had transpired almost half a year before: air-conditioners were turned off or on low at busy department stores despite the summer heat in order to save energy. Commercials were still urging people to cut back on power. And earthquakes were still happening late into the night. At a concert I went to in Yoyogi I found it eerie that a member from a band named trademark, who I was supposed to see in Tokyo, helped assist one of the singers that I came to see that night. Because of the earthquake I was unable to see trademark’s gig in Tokyo that night in April but still fate somehow had it that I would still be able to meet him.

After I left my host family, I stayed one day in the middle of Tokyo at a small hotel in Ikebukuro to see a concert the day before I was going back to Guam. It was a much needed farewell gift I was giving myself in order to say goodbye to Japan. If you can’t imagine already, I had so many things going on in my head during my last nights here, in Tokyo and in Japan; it was like a heavy weight was dropped into my stomach, a weight that made it hard to walk, to talk, to do anything. Walking alone in the streets to Harajuku, to Shimokitazawa, aboard the trains transferring between lines in the busiest stations in Japan, it had all taken a mighty toll on me physically, but ten-fold mentally. I was worn down and my mind was fogged with an innumerable amount of emotions.   

a picture of her performs at Shinjuku Nine Spices

Even though not all the bands that night had vocalists to verbally express their music you could definitely feel it in the way they conveyed their emotions through music. There was definitely something moving these folks to give it their all in this basement that passed as a club in the metropolitan Shinjuku district. It was amazing seeing all these bands, and susquatch, a band that was on my list of bands I had to see one day, would finally graduate from that list. Even if the audience was scarce at the beginning of the show I looked back later to see that the entire venue was filled wall to wall with people coming to see the bands. Talking to some of them after the show left me feeling incredibly happy and with a little of that initial weight lifted slightly off my shoulders.
Later, I found out by some means that this concert was delayed about 5 months: it was originally supposed to take place on March 11: the day the disaster ravaged Japan. Five months later the event organizers had finally gotten a day booked so that the original gig could finally go on as planned(after all, the series of gigs had already been in its 3rd or 4th installment, despite the fact that the first one never happened). 

Do you think Japan, or even the world, will begin to forget about this disaster? I know I haven’t. 

Thanks for reading.


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