Special Post – Fukushima Earthquake Rememberance

This post is something special to me.

Back in 2011, I went overseas, from New Jersey to Japan in order to visit my friend Sara, who happened to be studying Japanese as an exchange student at the time.   Sara’s mother, Sherri, and i boarded our flight in Newark, New Jersey, and landed in Narita Airport March 11, 2011.   We disembarked the plane and were walking through customs when the first wave hit – a 4.0 earthquake.   Sure, it was scary.   I remember not knowing what was going on at first and even thinking that it was turbulence from a plane taking off.   But once I saw people starting to duck and cover their heads, it hit me – this is an earthquake.

Sherri and I joined a group that was huddled in the middle of the room, drawing other frightened tourists towards us and covering our heads to protect ourselves.   Fortunately, that wave passed and we laughed it off.   Nothing big at all.   We must have looked pretty silly to those who go through earthquakes on a regular basis.

When the second one hit though, that was about a 7.2 magnitude.   Though Sherri and I did not speak any Japanese, we understood that we had to exit the building.   Watching the windows ebb and flow like ocean waves was a bit terrifying.

Sherri and I managed to leave the airport and stood outside with the others who were stranded.   Sherri, understandably, was worried about Sara, who is legally blind and was taking mass transit to meet us at Narita Airport.   We met a woman who became our angel for the trip, Masana, who stayed with us the entire time, making sure we were safe, cared for, and that we would be able to find my friend.

Finally, Sara, through walking and hitch-hiking, managed to meet us at the airport and found our rag-tag group of friends that we had made – an exchange student named Peter, Masana, mother Maureen who was meeting her daughter Meghan, and Mithras.

Through a series of events involving rolling brown-outs, frightened nights reading about nuclear reactors melting, and even a volcanic eruption, our ten-day trip all around Japan turned into a five-day race, staying with people who were nothing short of angels throughout our trip (I will never be able to give Masana, Peter, Maureen, Mithras, Hiroko, the girls dormitory of Soka University, and Momo the fully proper thank you that they deserve).

And now, I ask for your help.   Though it has been years since the earthquake occurred, the repairs will take nothing short of decades.   Please, consider donating some funds to the various relief efforts to try and rebuild after this devastating disaster.   This nation has been through so much, and any assistance that you can give to help these brave people are most appreciated.

Thank you.

Japan Earthquake – Three Years Later

As some of you are aware, March 11, 2014 marks the third-year anniversary of the now infamous Japanese earthquake, an 8.9 magnitude quake that triggered a tsunami, a volcanic eruption, and a nuclear meltdown.   According to Global Research, Centre for Research on Globalization, “On April 12, 2011 the Japanese government officially announced that the severity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster had reached level 7, the highest on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Before Fukushima, the only level 7 case was the 1986 Chernobyl disaster…”

People know Japan for their famed tea ceremonies, matcha tea, and amazing atmosphere.   During the 2010-2011 school year, my good friend since fifth grade, Sara, decided to go study at Soka University, immersing herself fully into the Japanese culture and gaining some amazing friends in the process.   Sara’s mother and I decided to go on a visit to see Sara in March.   About ten minutes after Sara’s mother and my plane landed in Narita Airport, the earthquake hit and we went on a wild ride consisting of sleeping in airports, feeling tremors throughout the night, meeting amazing angels who took us in at a moment’s notice, and thanking God the moment we touched down on American soil five days later.

I could go into more detail regarding our experiences, but that might be a post for another day.

I will, however, say that the people we met there were so magnanimous, beyond compare to anyone I have ever met before.   Masana, who stayed with Sara’s mother and me while we struggled to get a hold of Sara via cell phone during the midst of the earthquake.   Not only that, she, along with foreign exchange student Peter, bought us food, drink, and kept us safe and calm during all the events while we were at the airport without any funds to support ourselves.   Hairoko, who housed us during the rolling black-outs that plagued the towns we were visiting.   Momoko, who welcomed us into the Soka University dorm room where Sara’s mother arranged our flight information.   Momoko and her friends also fed us and kept us calm during the disaster.

I still thank them for all of their help to this day, and still look at them as angels for all that they did for complete strangers.

Our Group Of Vagabonds, Eating Breakfast Thanks To Generous Strangers

Our Group Of Vagabonds, Eating Breakfast Thanks To Generous Strangers

Now, three years later, the Japanese government is still dealing with radiation levels.   They now also have to deal with radiation-contaminated water.   People are still missing after all of this time.   The people still need help.

To help the people of Japan, please consider donating to the Red Cross.   The funds aid in long-term recovery projects and general assistance to those in need.

Don’t forget these people.   They still need our help.

A Special Tribute to Japan

On March 11, 2011, Japan was rocked by an earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the lives of thousands, causing wide-spread devastation and pain throughout both the Japanese citizens and those from around the world.

The anniversary is arriving, with many still mourning, missing and in pain.   The psychological effects alone will be reverberating for ages to come.

Admittedly, this has a special significance for me.   On March 11th, I landed at the Narita Airport to with my travel partner, Sherri, visit my friend since 5th grade, Sara, who was studying at Soka University for a year.   Sara graciously planned a full ten-day tour all over Japan for her mother and myself, traveling to different tea rooms, shrines and attractions.   While I had been traveling before, I had never gone to a place with a culture as unique as Japan.

About ten minutes after we landed, the earthquake hit.   Without knowing the magnitude or impact of the earthquake (and, being a Jersey girl, I never even experienced anything like an earthquake before), it was rather exciting yet scary at the same time:

Sherri was greatly concerned for her daughter, while I held all the confidence in the world that she would be fine.   I knew that she was on a train traveling to see us but I knew that Sara was able to adapt to almost any situation and any emergency.   After living in a foreign country for a year, something like this shouldn’t phase her, should it?

However, thankfully, we found a group of people who gathered with us, keeping us calm and directing us in the ways of the Japanese culture.   Masana and I still talk to this day.   She was a complete angel and so patient translating and helping Sherri and myself reunite with Sara.   Peter and I unfortunately lost touch, but he was amazing, offering everything that he could to make sure that we were comfortable.

While I was nowhere near the epicenter, I did see the effects that the quake had on the people around me.   I can only imagine what went through Masana’s mind as she watched the news in the airport, how Peter felt as his home for a year was “attacked.”   I remember talking to Sara about how distressed she was about her home for a year and having to leave so abruptly.

The reason why I post this in my tea blog is because I still have fond memories of, while we were running around and trying to get out of the country, I always made my stops at tea vending machines.   Even while we were tired and impatiently waiting for the train, Sara and Sherri would see me wander off to the tea vending machine, getting some hot tea for now and cold tea for later.   I still have fond memories and probably a few bottle caps of some particular teas I was a fan of.

I ask everyone to please consider donating to these people.   They’re still struggling and any help that we can give to them, I can assure you, would be greatly appreciated.   Right now, I know that the Japan Society in New York is accepting donations and distributing it to where needed.

Thank you very much and thank you to all those wonderful people that helped me, a complete stranger, and my friends along our scary journey, even while their homes were in trouble.

A Photo That Sherri Took of Masana, Peter, Maureen, Sara and Myself at Narita Airport the Day After The Quake

A Photo That Sherri Took of Masana, Peter, Maureen, Sara and Myself at Narita Airport the Day After The Quake