Obviously, I’ve been following the events of today with great interest. It’s hard to even imagine the destructive power of an 8.9 earthquake – had this been centered near Tokyo or another major city, the destruction would have been beyond comprehension. As it is, comprehension is difficult – though the death toll stands below 1000 I can only imagine, given the images we’ve all seen, that it will climb much higher. The Tsunami has caused terrible devastation in Tohoku, along the Northeast coast. Some fires are still burning (including Sendai Airport) and some areas are still underwater. Several nuclear plants are venting radioactive steam due to cooling system failures. Thankfully, due to Japan’s excellent building codes Sendai itself seems to have escaped catastrophic damage and Tokyo seems barely to have sustained damage at all. If this were another country, the casualties would surely have been far more numerous.
This has a personal impact for me, above and beyond my love for Japan and its culture and people. I’m scheduled to fly into Tokyo a week from today. Though my plans from there take me South and West and thus outside the area of serious damage (though the Japan Alps in Chubu experienced a 6.2 quake today) it’s a serious dilemma. In the first place, we have a situation where Narita Airport was closed almost entirely for the day and almost all rail in Tokyo was down. Service has resumed at Narita and many of the train lines are running, and it’s hoped that both will be close to normal by this time next week. But in addition to the worry about aftershocks (which would not deter me from traveling) I’m conscious of how the local people will feel about a foreign tourist, camera in hand, going about his business as usual. Even in areas unaffected by the quake I’m concerned about this, but at the same time I want to show my support to Japan and the Japanese people. I think traveling as planned and spending a few yen is one way to do that – the sooner a sense of normalcy returns to the areas of the country less severely impacted, the less the economic hit will be.
It’s a difficult choice. As of now, I intend to travel if the logistics allow it – I think it’s the right thing to do. I can’t guarantee I won’t change my mind, but as of now I plan to go and show my solidarity with the Japanese people in whatever way I can. I encourage everyone who wants to help to contribute in any way you can – among your choices is the International Red Cross:
Incidentally, I was also planning to go for a beach hike this morning in Pacifica, CA – in fact, I only briefly checked the news before I was planning to leave the house, at the peak of the tsunami alert for California. There was serious damage in places like Santa Cruz, with boats and piers destroyed and injuries. The reach of this disaster extended all the way to my back yard.
As for the normal business of this blog, while normal cultural events in Japan are obviously experiencing severe disruption life is going on there, too – and I’ll continue to post about anime, manga and popular culture as long as there’s something to post about. In the meantime, my thoughts are with the people of Japan (a couple of whom read this blog). I hope to be with you soon to show my support and my love for Japan and its people. Okarada o taisetsu ni.