Nihon no tameni inori o.
We pray for Japan.
I would've rather not have the first post of this blog be a solemn one, but it just wouldn't seem right to not say my part about the situation..
I guess it all really started last Thursday (US time).. i was excited about getting an email from Amity, inviting me to the group interview next Saturday. Then i sat down to start studying for my Japanese final the next day, but ended up falling asleep.
I awoke a couple hours later only to find news of the earthquake and footage of the tsunami swallowing the northeastern coast of Japan. I panicked. I had no idea of the extent or range of damage or where exactly the tsunami had hit.. I knew the earthquake had rocked Tokyo though, as a few of my friends had posted on Facebook about it, and even friends in Kansai had posted about feeling it. If people that far south had been able to feel it, it had to have been huge.
And it worried me sick. I spent the next few hours glued to my computer screen, checking every news site that was streaming live video, and frantically trying to get in contact with all of my friends in Tokyo who hadn't posted anything on Facebook yet..
All of my wonderful, amazing friends. I felt so helpless as i sat in my quiet little room, watching all the destruction as it unfolded thousands of miles away. I wanted so bad to be there with them all, make sure the were okay.. it seemed unfair to me that they had to go through that turmoil while i got to sit in the quiet comfort of home. Needless to say i didn't get any studying done that night. I chatted with a few classmates after the test on Friday who also had been too worried or distraught to study, so i felt better that i wasn't the only one who knew they did poorly..
My trip to Japan is only about a month away. People keep saying, "Oh I hope things are better by the time you get there!"
All i can tell them is, "Well, if i could i would go right now."
I really would. In the short couple times i've spent in Japan, it feels like a second home to me. Despite language and cultural barriers, i feel completely comfortable there. I have wonderful memories of that place, and even more wonderful friends there that i can't imagine living without.
I know that when i'm there i'll long for home- the US.. I am American after all, nothing can change that. I wouldn't want to change that either, it's who i am. But while i'm here i'm always longing for my 'other home'. My heart belongs in two places, and it's torn apart even more now as i sit here so far away, glued to the news from the time i wake up to the time i go to sleep, hoping that nothing else catastrophic happens to my second home, hoping that all of my friends remain safe..
A lot of these Twitter posts have been going around, but I'm still going to share them here. A friend posted a bunch on Facebook, and they nearly moved me to tears..
ディ ズニーランドでは、ショップのお菓子なども配給された。ちょっと派手目な女子高生たちが必要以上にたくさんもらってて「何だ？」って一瞬思ったけど、その 後その子たちが、避難所の子供たちにお菓子を配っていたところ見て感動。子供連れは動けない状況だったから、本当にありがたい心配りだった
At Tokyo Disneyland:
Tokyo Disneyland was handing out its shops’ food and drinks for free to the stranded people nearby. I saw a bunch of snobby looking highschool girls walking away with large portions of it and initially though “What the …” But I later I found out they were taking them to the families with little children at emergency evacuation areas. Very perceptive of them, and a very kind thing to do indeed.
一 回の青信号で１台しか前に進めないなんてザラだったけど、誰もが譲り合い穏やかに運転している姿に感動した。複雑な交差点で交通が５分以上完全マヒする シーンもあったけど、１０時間の間お礼以外のクラクションの音を耳にしなかった。恐怖と同時に心温まる時間で、日本がますます好きになった。
At a congested downtown intersection …
Cars were moving at the rate of maybe one every green light, but everyone was letting each other go first with a warm look and a smile. At a complicated intersection, the traffic was at a complete standstill for 5 minutes, but I listened for 10 minutes and didn’t hear a single beep or honk except for an occasional one thanking someone for giving way. It was a terrifying day, but scenes like this warmed me and made me love my country even more.
During the earthquake
We’ve all been trained to immediately open the doors and establish an escape route when there is an earthquake. In the middle of the quake while the building was shaking crazily and things falling everywhere, a man made his way to the entrance and held it open. Honestly, the chandelier could have crashed down any minute … that was a brave man!
Bus stop mini episode:
It was freezing and bus was taking ages to arrive. “@saiso” left the queue to run to a nearby pharmacy. He bought heating pads and gave one to everyone in the queue!
こ の地震が、きっかけになって、失いかけていた日本人本来の良さが戒間見れた気がする。犯罪はする様子はなく、助け合い、律儀、紳士的。普段日本人は冷たい 人が多い…。って個人的に感じてるんだけど、多くの人が今回で「絆」を取り戻しつつあるように見えて、それがなんか感動して、泣けてくる。
Reminded of the goodness of the Japanese people
This earthquake has reminded me of that Japanese goodness that had recently become harder and harder to see. Today I see no crime or looting: I am reminded once again of the good Japanese spirit of helping one another, of propriety, and of gentleness. I had recently begun to regard my modern countrymen as cold people … but this earthquake has revived and given back to all of us the spirit of “kizuna” (bond, trust, sharing, the human connection). I am very touched. I am brought to tears.
Card board boxes, Thank you!
It was cold and I was getting very weary waiting forever for the train to come. Some homeless people saw me, gave me some of their own cardboard boxes and saying “you’ll be warmer if you sit on these!” I have always walked by homeless people pretending I didn’t see them, and yet here they were offering me warmth. Such warm people.
外 国人から見た地震災害の反応。物が散乱しているスーパーで、落ちているものを律儀に拾い、そして列に黙って並んでお金を払って買い物をする。運転再開した 電車で混んでるのに妊婦に席を譲るお年寄り。この光景を見て外国人は絶句したようだ。本当だろう、この話。すごいよ日本。
What foreigners are saying about Japanese people
At a supermarket where everything was scattered everywhere over the floors, shoppers were helping pick them up and putting them back neatly on the shelves before quietly moving into line to wait to pay for them. On the totally jam-packed first train after the quake, an elderly man gave up his seat for a pregnant woman. Foreigners have told me they are amazed witnessing sights like these. I do believe they actually saw what they said they saw. Japan is truly amazing.
The bakery lady
There was a small bread shop on the street I take to go to school. It has long been out of business. But last night, I saw the old lady of the shop giving people her handmade bread for free. It was a heart-warming sight. She, like everyone else, was doing what she could to help people in a time of need. Tokyo isn’t that bad afterall!
日 本って凄い。官僚も民間も、皆で助けようとしてる。トラックの運転手も有志で物資運んでるらしいし、東北の交通整備をヤクザさんがやってるという話も聞い た。最近、日本に対して誇りを持てないことが続いていたけれど、そんなことない。日本は凄い国だ。素直に感動してる。日本国の皆さん頑張ろう！
Japan is a wonderful nation!
Both the government and the people, everyone is helping one another today. There are truck drivers helping evacuees move. I even heard that the “yakuza” (gangsters, organized crime groups) are helping to direct traffic in the Tohoku region! There have been many recent developments that have made me lose my sense of pride in my country, but not anymore. Japan is an amazing place! I’m just simply touched. Go Japan!
From a German friend
A German friend of mine was in Shibuya (downtown Tokyo shopping district) when the earthquake hit. He was panicking when a Japanese passerby saved him, taking him into a building. My friend was blown away at how calm and disciplined this Japanese man was. He went out of the building with firm, unfaltering steps, did everything he was trained to do and came back. My German friend was deeply impressed by the Japanese people’s actions during the earthquake, saying they looked like a trained army.
At the supermarket
I just came back safely from the supermarket! Man, I was so touched at how everyone there was mindful of others, buying only as much as they needed and leaving the rest for the people behind them.
実 際日本すごいよ。昨日信号が一カ所も機能していない御殿場市でもお互いにドライバー同士譲り合ってたし、地元のおじいちゃんおばあちゃんが手信号やってく れてたりで、混乱もなく本当感動した。9時間運転してたけど前車を煽るようなドライバーはもちろんいなかったし、みんな譲り合い精神。
Japan is really something! Yesterday, not a single traffic light was functioning in Gotenba City. But drivers knew to take turns at intersections and give way to others when needed. Local people were using flags to direct traffic at intersections. I drove for 9 hours but never saw a single car trying to get in front of another. Every single driver on the road contributed to the traffic situation and as a result there was no confusion at all.
タ クシー運ちゃんと電車駅員さんとおばさんと話したけど、みんな遅くまで帰れなかったりしてすごく疲れているのに、苛立つ事なく、言葉遣いもふるまいも丁寧 で、逆に気遣われてしまった。｢みんな大変だから｣という"みんな"って意識があることに感動するし、私も受け継いで大事にしたい文化。
“All of us”
I spoke with an old taxi driver and some elderly staff at the train stations. All of them had been working non-stop and had not been able to go home for a long time. They were visibly very tired, but never once did they show any sign of impatience; they were gentle and very caring. They told me “… because all of us are in this together.” I was touched at what the notion of “all of us” meant to these elderly people. It is a value I will treasure and carry on to my generation.
A strong Japan
Suntory Beverages has set up free vending machines. Softbank Telephone services is offering free Wifi spots. Everyone in Japan is putting everything they can into helping one another. Japan is also now receiving aid from abroad. Compared to the Kobe earthquake, when Japan took too long to contemplate accepting foreign aid or dispatching the self-defense force to join the rescue effort, Japan has definitely grown into a far stronger nation. Be strong, everyone!
What caught my attention on twitter is that a lot of the tweets were about the Kobe earthquake and how what we have learned from it has been put into practice this time around. I know it goes without saying, but I was once again reminded of how humans are indeed creatures that possess the amazing ability to think and learn from experience. It’s a great thought.
昨 日、裏の家の高１になるお兄ちゃんに感動した。 家に１人で居たらしく、地震後すぐ自転車で飛び出し近所をひと回り。 【大丈夫ですか―――！？】と道路に逃げてきた人達にひたすら声掛けてた。あの時間には老人や母子しか居なかったから、声掛けてくれただけでもホッとした よ。 ありがとう。
A strong voice
Yesterday, I was impressed and touched by the actions of my neighbor’s 13-year-old-boy. He was home alone when the earthquake hit. But instead of hiding, as soon as the earthquake quieted down, he jumped on his bicycle and road around the block repeatedly shouting at the top of his voice, “Is everyone alright? Is everyone okay?” At the time, there were only women and children and the elderly in the homes. I cannot describe how comforting it was just to hear a strong voice asking if I was okay. Thank you!
The beauty of helping one another
I went out last night to help some friends who were volunteering as security personnel between Machida City and Sagami Ohno City. I saw total strangers, both young and old, helping each other along everywhere I turned and was heartened with an overwhelming feeling of encouragement. I was so touched I hid behind the toilets and cried.
僕 は感動しました。バイトの先輩が1人でも救うために寒い中紙に「バイクでよければ送ります」と書き駅前で掲げ鳶職のお兄ちゃんを所沢まで送ったそうです。 世の中まだ捨てたもんじゃないなって思いました。本当に尊敬です！！自分もなんか人の役に立ちたいと生まれて初めて思いました。
I just have a bike
I’m so touched! My colleague at my part time job, wanting to help even just one extra person, wrote a sign saying “I just have a bike, but if you don’t mind hop on!”, rode out on his motorbike, picked up a stranded construction worker and took him all the way to Tokorozawa! Respect! I have never felt so strongly that I want to do something helpful for others.
Sharing your ride
It was stupid of me to think I could catch a cab at Urawamien Station. I ended up walking 30 minutes and then finally was picked up by a stranger who offered to give me a lift. I’m touched by the warmth of human kindness. Thank you, thank you!
昨 日、歩いて帰ろうって決めて甲州街道を西へ向かっていて夜の21時くらいなのに、ビルの前で会社をトイレと休憩所として解放してる所があった。社員さんが 大声でその旨を歩く人に伝えていた。感動して泣きそうになった。いや、昨日は緊張してて泣けなかったけど、今思い出してないてる。
Last night, I decided, rather than stay at the office, I should try walking home. So I slowly made my way west on Koshu freeway on foot. It was around 9PM when I saw an office building that had a sign that said “Please use our office’s bathrooms! Please rest here!” The employees of the office were loudly shouting out the same to all the people trying to walk home. I was so touch I felt like crying. Well, I guess I was too tense yesterday to cry, but now the tension is wearing off and am very much in tears.
都 営大江戸線の光ヶ丘方面行きは、非常に混雑しています。ホームにも、改札の外にも、電車を待つ溢れんばかりの人。でも、誰一人列を崩さず、通路を開け、係 員の誘導に従っている。ロープがあるわけでもないのに、通る人のための通路スペースが。その不自然なほどの快適さに、ただただ感動するばかり。
On the platform
The Oedo Subway Line for Hikarigaoka is very congested. On the platform and at the gate there are just crowds and crowds of people waiting for the train. But in all the confusion, every last person is neatly lined up waiting his or her turn while managing to keep a passage of space open for staff and people going the other way. Everyone is listening to the instructions from the staff and everyone acts accordingly. And amazingly … there isn’t even a rope or anything in sight to keep people in queue or open space for staff to pass, they just do! I am so impressed at this almost unnatural orderliness! I have nothing but praise for these people!
昨 日4時間かけて歩いて帰ってきた主人。赤羽で心が折れそうになってた時「お寒い中大変ですね！あったかいコーヒーどうぞ！」って叫びながら無料配布してる おっちゃんに出会った。これがあったから頑張れたそうだ。もう5回もこの話をしてくるので本当に嬉しかったんだと思う。おっちゃんありがとう。
My husband finally got home very late last night after walking for 4 hours. He told me he felt like giving up at around Akabane, when an elderly man who was going around handing out free coffee saw him, gave him a steaming cup and said, “You must be tired and cold. Here, have some coffee!” My husband told me that it was because of this elderly man that he found the will and strength to continue walking. I’ve already heard this story from him five times tonight, so no doubt he was really, really touched! Thank you to my husband’s anonymous helper!
Japan is strong! At Osaka I saw a LONG line of people waiting to give blood at the blood donation center. This is the first time I have seen such a queue of selfless people waiting patiently in line just to give. It was a moving sight! To everyone in the hard-hit areas, we your countrymen accept your suffering as our own and we share in your grief. Do not give up! Stay strong!
バ イト先に若いお兄さんたちが軍団でお酒を買いに来たんだけど、その中の一人が｢やべえ、オレお酒のためにしかお金持ってきてないから募金できん。ちょっと これ買うのやめるわ｣って言って商品返品してそのお金全部募金してた。お友達も続々と募金しててすごい感動した。 すごいよ
Not enough money!
At the store where I work, a huge group of young men suddenly came in to buy booze. One of them suddenly said, “Oops, I only have enough money to buy booze, I can’t donate! Forget the booze, maybe next time!” and instead put ALL his money into the disaster relief donation box. One by one, every single one of the army of youths threw all their money into the box after him. What a heart-warming sight that was!
A goth youth with white hair and body piercings walked into my store and shoved several hundred dollars (several tens of thousands of yen) into the disaster relief fund donation box. As he walked out, I and people around me heard him saying to his buddies, “I mean, we can buy those games anytime!” At that, we all opened our wallets and put our money into the donation box. Really, you cannot judge people by their appearances.
Last night, Aobadai station was jammed with stranded people unable to get home. But there were private cars with drivers shouting “If you’re going in the direction of ****, please hop on!” I was able to hitch a ride on one of them. When I thanked the driver, he replied “No worries! We’re all on the same boat. We have to stick together!”
避 難所にいたときに、社会人1年生で、研修でこっちにきてた女の子が、たまたま携帯のバッテリーも持参してたらしく、体育館のコンセントを使用する許可もも らい、「携帯の充電をされたい方は、ご自由につかってください」と呼びかけて回ってたんだ。僕はその子にとても感動したんだよ･･
Need to charge your phone?
At the emergency evacuation area, a young first-year intern at my company who had brought her phone’s charger got permission from the facility to use their power socket and went around shouting “Anyone need to charge their phone? Please use my charger!” Just a little thing, but I was touched.