Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finally back in Tokyo – part 1

It’s a long time ago since I updated my blog. A lot of things happened in this time. Some were good, some even awesome and others were terrible bad. For several days, I was not sure if I would see Tokyo again and could bring my studies here to an end. However, like the headline implicates, I am back in Tokyo now and if nothing goes wrong, I will finish my Sotsuron in August, as I planned before. But it was a long way for me to come here again.
It all started end of February. I went on a 3 nights home-stay-program in Kakuda from February 21 – 24. Kakuda is a small farmer village in the Myagi-Prefecture and has had the home-stay-program with TiTech for several years. The Myagi-Prefecture was one of the regions which were worst hit by the big earthquake on 11. March 2011. But on that time, we didn’t know that such terrible things would happen and we had a really great time there (a separate post will come soon).
After the quake, it was not easy to get in contact with the host-families. The first news reached me on March 13 via the TiTech-office, where they found a twitter threat regarding the situation in Kakuda. Kakuda lies not directly at the coast and is surrounded by mountains, so the tsunami didn’t reach it. But telephone, electricity, gas and water supply were damaged and the life must have been tough for the people living there. On March 15, the office managed to get in contact to the host-families via mobile phone and I was very glad to here that none of them was dead or missing. But according to TV news, 205 people died in Kakuda.
The electricity was repaired on March 17, but there was still no water supply on March 19, more then one week after the quake. It was planned to be repaired on March 20 or 21.
One host-father (Mr. Omokawa) has a blog diary which gives you a good impression on the thoughts and worries of the people living there It is in Japanese but Google-translate or other translation-programs offer readable results (tip: translate to English, not to German. The English translation is way better).  If you cannot use such a program or just want to have a visual impression, is the related photo-blog. The devastations there must be immense, according to some photos.
As you can imagine, it was shocking for me to see all this in the news and internet, recognizing it is the same sleepy and friendly village I had such a good time only two weeks before. Good fortune is that everybody I know there is all right and that things start to get normal there. However, Kakuda is just 62 km north of Fukushima-Daiichi and most of the people there earn their money with farming.
Personally, I was not affected by the earthquake, because I was in Hiroshima at this time, more then 800 km away from the epicentre. What I did there I will tell you more about in my next post.