It has only been four weeks but it feels like I’ve been here for months. I finally settled in completely into my apartment and with school starting Wednesday I’m working on setting my schedule.
Monday and Tuesday.
Just a couple of regular do nothing days (besides laundry. Thank you ma for all your years of hard work with this task) Its odd that I’ve already become so use to Japan that I’m comfortable just relaxing on my days off.
A typhoon was scheduled to come in the low plains Honshu area which is where I live. For some reason I couldn’t seem to take it very seriously. The first week we were here we had another typhoon that did not really affect our area so I guess we thought it would be the same. That morning we were awakened and told that classes were cancelled. The rain was coming down fairly hard and the wind was vicious. However it lightened up a bit, so Kim and I decided to go to the store and buy some supplies. Naturally, after we get to the store it starts pouring and the wind picks up. Thankfully, we walked instead of trying to ride our bikes, which would have been a complete disaster. We made it back in one piece abet very wet and shivering. Later we found out that seven people died in that storm. It kind of brought it into perspective that although Japan is a beautiful country things can still happen so as a foreigner I should be more careful about where I roam.
The opportunity for me to go up North and help the tsunami victims arose. When I originally applied to go, all of the spaces were filled. However Thursday morning I was told that due to an unexpected withdrawal I would have a seat. So I packed a bag. We had a brief introduction meeting and left Nisshin at 8:00pm. 12 hours later, we arrived in Tohoku. It was a long, long, trip. Since we started so late and drove all night I didn’t have the chance to see much of Japan but when morning came there were some breath-taking mountain views.
That morning we pulled into the town and witnessed the destruction that had occurred. It was moving to see the shore line that had once been covered in trees wiped clean except for one lonely tree. The tree has been marked as a beacon of hope for the reconstruction of the town. Once we arrived at the volunteer center, we changed clothes and headed out. We drove to a dock and were given instructions to remove the debris from under the sidewalk drains (I included a picture). In Japan, there are narrow streets with concrete stones and tunnels that allow for rain water drainage. Because of the tsunami they were all filled with muck that was preventing them from working.
We worked most of the day away and then we headed to an orphanage that was near a bathhouse. Unfortunately the children were away that day so we were unable to see them but I did get to use a Japanese bath. The hot soaking water was very relaxing and we had a little rock garden view. It is defiantly different then in America but it was still a nice experience. We headed back on the road that same night and arrived back just before nightfall. I was so tired from not being able to sleep on the bus that I crashed almost immediately.
Kim and I hosted a small house warming get together with Kristina, Miki-san, and Takami-san. It was interesting because Miki-san speaks limited English, Takami-san speaks very good English, Kristina speaks more Japanese that Kim and I, but not enough for a full conversation. However even with the language barrier we could still communicate.
Later that day we visited the restaurant that Miki-san works at and tried to speak to some of the Japanese people there. I cannot wait to start learning Japanese. Oddly enough some times when I practice my Japanese I’ll forget English words. Cest la vie.