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.