Five things to know going into this:
1) I am half Japanese.
2) My dad (the Japanese half) ran a business placing Japanese exchange students all while I was growing up, so from approximately 3-17, we always had a Japanese student (or two) staying with us.
3) I took Japanese in college. Just for a year, but enough to love the language.
4) I’ve been to Japan twice, once in high school, and again in college. My favorite thing about it was the unexpected juxtaposition of the ancient and the impossibly modern.
5) Up until about two and a half weeks ago, I was trying to get a job teaching English in Japan. I thought it would be a great experience for me and my husband, and maybe our only opportunity before kids, etc. I just couldn’t find a job, despite the qualifications above (which one company wrote back to me and remarked upon as being quite impressive, though they didn’t have a position for me).
So, Friday night I was flipping through the channels and decided to stop in at Anderson Cooper 360°. The show wasn’t on, of course, instead there was CNN breaking news, with footage running in the upper corner of the devastation going on. I read the ticker-tape line to the husband immediately—Japan had suffered a 8.9 earthquake, and the tsunami waves were already rolling in. We both watched, feeling a mixture of sick and relieved.
They showed images of Tokyo and talked about the trains being down—the main transportation system, something that has brought the city to its knees. Tokyo was exactly where I was focusing my job search, as my husband doesn’t know Japanese, and it’s easier to get around a large city if you don’t. We had our heart pretty much set on Japan, and it was only by a few twists of fate (and probably some nudging from above) that kept us from ending up there, so you can imagine how the news hit us that night.
Still, even knowing that I’ve been kept from being a part of that disaster… it kills me to hear the death rolls rise, and to think of all that’s been destroyed (and still has the potential of being destroyed) in all of this. It’s not just the major cities, either. It occurred to me the other night how much of Japan is still fishing villages, and how it takes fish years to return to an environment that’s been as rent as Japan’s has—if any of those people can still find and use their fishing boats.
Really my thoughts are so jumbled that I probably have no business blogging about this right now, but I can’t help it. This has been weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve been impressed by how many organizations—big and small alike, have been running sales where 100% of profits go to Japan Relief. I’m donating 15% in my Etsy shop, and I desperately wish I could afford more, but I just can’t afford to right now.
Just know this is a nation I love, a land I love, a people I love. My heart is breaking for them.