Tag Archives: tsunami

Japan, A Year Later

My second visit to Japan has ended, and this trip turned out to be even more incredible and eye-opening than I could have hoped for. Not only did I get to check out amazing places like the Chichu art museum in Naoshima and the massive sand dunes in Tottori, but in addition I was able to volunteer with typhoon relief efforts in Wakayama and see some of the tsunami devastation first-hand in Sendai. Even though this country is filled with so much beauty (and, of course, delicious foods), many people are of course still wary about visiting after last year’s events. While I hope that some of my previous posts about Japan can encourage more people to visit the country, I would also like for my entries to encourage others to further explore what’s happening there today. The beauty of Japan is found in more than its beautiful coastlines, amazing ski slopes, and intricate temples – it’s also found in the resilience of the people that are working everyday to restore their towns for their families and future generations. I was especially impressed with the amount of fundraising that I’ve seen from expats there. One group of JETS living in the Fukushima prefecture are selling Fukushima t-shirts in order to raise money for tsunami relief efforts. My sister, a current JET living in Nara, has already ordered several t-shirts and I am anxiously awaiting for mine to arrive in the mail. If you are interested in ordering shirts internationally you can email Galileo Yuseco at fukushima.tshirt@gmail.com.

Back in NYC, I am glad to hear that the conversation is still on-going as well. In February I attended a LucidNYC event where an acclaimed photographer named Kyoko Hamada spoke about her visit to Fukushima and her interactions with the people there. To hear her story and see some of the pictures she took, check out the video clip here. I was also fortunate to help out with another great event this past week hosted by Indiegogo over at Projective Space LES. Jason Wishnow, the filmmaker behind TedTalks, was one of the speakers and shared a new project of his called “We Are All Radioactive.” This online documentary series is about the people living in Motoyoshi, a small surf town 100 miles north of Fukushima, and focuses on their experiences with how their businesses and daily lives have been affected by the concern about radiation. While part of the series was filmed by Wishnow and his team, they also gave out cameras to the locals there so that us viewers can see their story through their eyes. The online series is crowdfunded and new episodes are being “unlocked” as each fundraising goal is hit – to find out more about this project and to donate, visit their site here.

I plan on visiting Japan again within the year and look forward to seeing all of the progress that will be made. Until then, I will have to be content with staying connected online and rationing out my green tea flavored kit kats appropriately.

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On Friday I felt like I was in the arena, and this time the arena was a small island. I crept around quietly like Katniss, taking care not to step on the many tiny pine cones that dotted the ground. I spotted a secluded part of beach that was roped off, and wished that Tim was my tribute partner from the SoCal District so we could hop over the rope and explore anyway. I frowned at the overcast sky and wished if only a Gamemaker could take pity on me and give me some sunshine for an hour…

Clearly I’ve been reading way too much Hunger Games on this trip. ::shakes head::

The ¬†island I was on is Fukuurajima, which is off the coast of Matsushima. Matsushima is about a half hour outside of Sendai, and boasts to have one of the top three scenic views in all of Japan – the other two being Miyajima and Amanohashidate. As someone who loves taking the scenic route, it was only natural that I felt compelled to go. The other main reason being that I was very curious to see what shape Sendai and other areas that were devastated by the tsuami were in. As Friday was my only real chance to go north of Tokyo, I decided to check it out regardless and am happy to say even with the overcast skies I wasn’t disappointed with the beauty of Matsushima. Cute, tiny islands (or large rocks, take your pick) line the coast and would be downright gorgeous on a clear day. The Japanese seem to be pretty fascinated by large rocks, which is lucky for me seeing as I share that same interest. And, as I realized on my previous trip, I really love visiting the quiet parts of Japan over the loud, large cities. I spent the afternoon exploring all the dirt paths and corners of the island. One of the pros of the bad weather was that I had the place mostly to myself, Fukuurajima is only accessible by it’s infamous 252 meter long red bridge and there is an entrance fee of 200yen to go over. I was surprised to find that the island itself seemed to be in good shape after being hit by the tsunami – some other sights in Matsushima got wiped out and even the bridge needed to be repaired.

Godaido Temple

Aside from the occasional eerie tsunami warning signs, during my brief time in Matsushima I didn’t see notice a lot of damage that was done last year (this is most likely because its a very popular tourist spot.) On the other hand, from my train ride up I did notice that Sendai still has a long road ahead with a lot of debris and dried up landscapes. If you’re interested in volunteering in the Miyagi prefecture, check out The Association for the Revitalization of Ishinomaki. Neetha put me in touch with this group, and I know that they are always looking for helping hands.


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