And so, it has been two months since I last blogged. It's not overly hard to remember the exact date on which I did so- The day before I changed families, but, more importantly, the day before the earthquake happened.
Neither, to be honest, was such a fantastic thing. Bit understating both. Not that I'm equating my current host family situation to a tsunami, but I digress.
Anyway, I remember clearly when I first heard about the earthquake, a bit like 911 and what the old timers claim about the kennedy shootings. I'd literally climbed the stairs from posting my last blog in the living room, when host dad paid me a visit to my room, which was rare- `There's been a tsunami on the coast', he said, 'I'm going to go survey damages for my job." I was like, what? Tsunami?
But he wasn't making a big deal about it and left, and so I didn't think too much of it, but I eventually got curious and went downstairs to turn on the news. The picture it was reflecting was surely, not a pretty one, but even then I had no real idea of the scope. I didn't feel the earthquake at all. Sorry. That's not exciting. It was the biggest earthquake Japan has ever had, I was there, and I didn't feel a quiver.
I'm sure everyone who reads this knows about it, but in the event of passage of time or a case striking ignorance, here's what happened; A 9.0 earthquake struck about 90 miles off the cost of North East Japan March 11, 2011. It triggered a 30 ft tidal wave that devastated coastal towns, killing thousands and causing what may be the most costly natural disaster in history. O-oh, and on it's way, managed to hit a nuclear powerplant, which went into meltdown mode.
Actually, when you type it out like that, it sounds kind of like a sick joke. Poor Japan.
That Friday, I spent the day watching the death toll count go from 1 by 1 to 40, then slept and suddenly it was 500. Then, again, when I was changing families and riding in my Counselor's car towards my next house, listening to the news pointedly to trying to stop crying- 1200 people dead, 1500 missing-
This number would eventually rise to 13000 dead, and around 20,000 missing- I haven't checked recently for more accurate numbers, but still. Horrific either way and understandably rocked Japan in a huge, huge way.
As for the effect on my life, we got a 3 foor tidal wave and not much else. There was nothing to listen to for the next three weeks but earthquake broadcast, and the commercials all turned to encouraging social messages - whether for lack of companies that wanted to broadcast or some country cheerleading measures, we literally got to watch the same commercials about 'TRY YOUR BEST JAPAN' for about 3 weeks. Consequently, when you sing, 'arigatou!' in a singsong、 someone will immediately sing 'arigatou!' back at you, probably followed by a stylish pirouette twirl. Check it out: [IF YOU GREET EVERYTIME, YOUR FRIENDS WILL INCREASE!!! Is the last thing they say.] Understandably, because this is a terrible and creepy commercials force fed to the population of Japan for 3 weeks straight 15 times a day, stuff like this has popped up.
Oh lordy. /facepalm
Ahem, yes, so, it was often remarked in the few weeks following the earthquake that the peace in wakayama was simply 'creepy' Osaka too, was in this state- It was hard to know what to feel, at this time, so peaceful, but then just so close so much destruction- and that's when it began.
The great noise sucking noise as hundreds of Exchange students accross Japan were dragged back to their host countries by hysteric Parents, Governments, and Exchange organizations. Stamp chan, the Thai girl at my school, was a casualty - 3 from my district as well boarded planes sometime in the 2 weeks following the quake. The faltering state of the Powerplant was the cheif concern, although the media was really playing the whole thing up the whole world over.
So lonely, Seirin. So lonely. I didn't even get to say good bye.
Either way, it was a very very tragic event, but I am very proud of Japan and they way they've handled response, relief, grief, and just everything. The feelings of going through it with this country will certainly be sometime I remember for the rest of my life.