Monday, March 12, 2012

The Earthquake, Japan, and Me - Part 2

Part 2

Arriving in Japan I found that there was a permeating atmosphere of disarray in the people. It was hard to put a finger on what exactly this was if you weren’t there. But anyone could tell that these disasters had severely wounded the internal functions of the Japanese people. At the first concert I went to the least likely performers left a lasting impression on me in their MC. The vocalist told the audience how much a shame it would be if we all stood there like statues not doing anything fun in the audience. “what if this was your last day? None of us know when something bad will happen to us. We might not be here tomorrow. If we aren’t, and this concert is your last, wouldn’t it be horrible to think you stood there and decided not to have fun? Don’t let that happen” is the gist of what I remember him saying. It was so cliché for people to make these statements now, but I thought about it, and the audience must have given it some thought. People in the disaster might have been at a concert the night before just like we were, hanging our heads and thinking not to have the time of our lives. They never saw another band come to their town. Later, as the vocalist for another band jumped into the crowd, he reached out his hands to people in the scattered audience for help to hoist him on top with their hands. I wrestled with the words I had just heard and ran up to him and lifted him as high I could. I still remember his hands reaching out to the audience and the look on his face. The band I came to see was awesome and I felt a sincere passion from the singer as he was happy to see me that he gave me a big hug after the show. 

My visit to Kyoto station. Still the same, even after the disaster.
  Kansai was incredibly enjoyable, ten times more than I had imagined, and slowly the effects of the earthquake started to appear less and less. People occasionally asked me from home how Japan was and if there was radiation everywhere and if I had seen Godzilla yet, but I declined. One memorable effect of the disaster that had reached all the way to Okayama was the water situation. Not used to drinking from the tap, I obviously made it a point to buy water from the bottle at the supermarket once I got there. My eyes were met with empty rows of where the water would be. Apparently, water being unsafe was one of the affects of the nuclear crisis and people all over Japan were not trusting the tap. This lasted for some time and it was a matter of weeks until I saw the row filled with rows of bottled watered again. Not long after my arrival a quake hit Okayama as well, with its epicenter in a nearby prefecture. It was a rather big earthquake and I sat there in awe, at 2AM in the morning, as my shelf shook and some of my books fell of the case. I rushed outside after thinking the entire city would be awake and buzzing out of their beds in confusion only to see the dark streets, as usual, completely empty. Maybe they wanted to forget. Or maybe they were just all asleep at that ungodly hour. 

Shelves are void of any bottled water after radiation warnings.

Although reports on the ongoing situation did not get phenomenally worse, efforts continued. Banners around school announced protests on nuclear plants. Fundraising was always going on somewhere to help disaster victims. Books were published chronically the tsunami ravaged towns in pictures. At the concerts I frequented, new posters came up with a world map and nuclear power plants dotting it, clearing aimed at stopping nuclear power. Vocalists still made it a point to say something about the disaster in between songs once in awhile, but even this started to get scarce as the week passed by. In my classes, renewable energy and numerous other topics were discussed. This all happened over the few months I was there but still, it was clear that the worst was over and the “hype” was dying down. 



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