“Did you hear about Japan?” My japanese teacher asked.

“Eh! Yeah, there was an earthquake or something. Isn’t that a common thing in Japan.” I replied.

“It is but this is different, this is the big one,” he exclaimed.

This is I’m sure you know is something very different, I refused to accept it for what it was as I had planned with great expectation my stay there. I was just after organising my temple stay (I would have lived with buddist monks for a couple days) when the first reports came in but I was unmoved by them as Japan is a country that is very familar with earthquakes and tsunamis.  It is this familiararity that has saved so many. Does that seem like a heartless thing to say? Well, the japanese are and will be, in fact, proud of how well prepared they were for this event. But you can see, it is one of the few things they can, in fact, take away from this event. Korea and some other countries have preformed simulations of what a 9.0 earthquake would do to their own countries and they are seeing some very frightening statistics.

“Different? The big one?” I questioned.

He proceeded to explain, that the whole of Japan live in constant fear of this, this what you are seeing on your t.v. screens and computer monitors. In shinto, the national Japanese religion, it is prophisised that this this occurance would shake the heart of Japan from time to time, a prophacy the people don’t take lightly. Japan’s history is trifled with earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis and the foreboding fact that the country is slowly sinking. One Korean once joked with me, “maybe that’s why they kept trying to invade us.” The constant fear of a cataclysmic event along with the suffering of the atomic bombs during the second world war has manifested in Japanese media (films, poems, stories, manga) and given the people unique traits. A never say die attitude and an unmoving reslove. A country that is so strongly united will need to make use of all of their positive attributes during these harsh times. And I believe they will and eventually overcome this tragedy but the road to recovery is long and harsh, the Japanese will as always strive forward.

I’ve always been a fan of all things Japanese since playing final fantasy for the first time to reading the latest issue of naruto. I have anticipated my arrival to this country for so long but I’m afraid the country that I’d visit woud be a shadow of itself, broken and in mourning. With the date of my supposed flight to Japan looming, 8 days from now, I’m struggling with myself to call the airline and cancel my flight. Constantly trying to convince myself that Kyoto hasn’t been affected and I would, at this point, not be refunded. But at this point how could any part of the country not be affected? People in parts are struggling for food and water and although Kyoto maybe some 500 km from ‘the affected area’ but I imagine I would be visiting an extremely somber ‘unaffected area.’

Melancholy. I'm procrastinating, I'll ring them tomorrow. As I sleeplessly sit here and write this with the local news channel in my background I feel selfish and ashamed for an emotion of intense hatred towards this act of god. Selfish for my own spoiled outlook, that I won’t experience Japan as it was robbed from me on the verge of my departure. And what is left? Not the Japan that I joyfully awaited. But time and the Japanese spirit will return it and I will hope that I will be fortunate that I will get the oppertunity to experience it. Is it horrible of me to assume the country will recover and hope that I can one day visit it? I would like to argue that it is a testiment to the country itself. Melancholy.

Lastly, reports of how exteme this disaster has been is much more severe here than US or european news has been reporting. The nuclear issue is particularly alarming. I’m sure the enormity of this catastrophe will be brought to light eventually. And the amount of help offered from other countries is immense, and is a true example of the best qualities of human nature. In my opinion it's strange how we can condem and cause wars when the world is at peace but rally together and help our fellow man in the face of something like this. I guess that just the simple irregulaity of human nature.



Note: I was supposed to go to Japan from the 8th-15th of March but because the airline i was using didn't accept european credit cards I had to re-schedule (and I didn't tell my family and friends... sorry about that.)  You could argue that I'm lucky but I don't really feel too lucky.