(via inspirationaljapanese)Source: inspirationaljapanese
My first thought was that the washing machine was shaking because it was still on. The old top-loaders in the dormitory were prone to shaking while on. But no – why would it be on if I was taking the washing out of it? Must be an earthquake, then. Up until then, the strongest earthquake I had felt was a small tremor – barely enough for a kid coming from a place with no earthquakes to say ‘hey, an earthquake, cool.’ But this one didn’t just end after a few seconds like the others did; it got stronger and stronger. I left my washing and went inside, found two of my friends in the hall. None of us really knew what to do – we ran downstairs, debated whether to go outside, watched the medical centre across the road evacuate. After it ended we checked the internet and updated our own Facebook statuses.
The rest of the afternoon was largely spent on the computer, interrupted by aftershocks and messages from friends, letting us know that they would either not be coming home that day, or would be walking countless kilometres. We went to the supermarket to find that beer was one of the only things not sold out. Beer was really all we needed anyway. We watched a film, took ‘aftershots’ of some leftover vodka whenever we felt a tremor and waited for our friends walking home, then greeted them on the road outside the dormitory with a beer.
Over the coming days, not much changed for us. Some of us went on holidays to different parts of the country as planned. But then some of us didn’t return to Tokyo from these holidays, having been forced to return to our home countries by our families or our universities. We developed our own sort of survivor guilt – ‘why was he forced to return home, and not me? He appreciated the experience of living in Japan more!’ As for me, I went back to Australia at the insistence of my parents, but was determined to return to Japan, which I did, three weeks later. In the meantime, many of my friends had left Japan without me being able to say goodbye.
Upon my return, and particularly as the new semester of university started, there was a feeling that Japanese people respected us for our decision to stay in Japan, even though it must have seemed foolish to them. You have no real connection to this place – why stay?! Our Japanese teachers would remark that we must be very serious students if we were willing to stay, but that wasn’t it. When men in our local bar asked us why we hadn’t returned home, we had trouble answering. In retrospect, none of us had a solid reason to stay. Our exchange year would be coming to a natural end in a few months anyway. But at the time, none of us could imagine abandoning our already transient life in Tokyo.
Over seven months later, I read an article about the Fukushima reactors. For the first time, I realized how dire the situation was; how much worse it could have become. I wonder: would I have acted differently had I known this (or perhaps more accurately, had I been willing to accept this)? I don’t think so. Even now, I feel a twinge of shame at being one of the ‘flyjin’, despite it not having been my choice, and, in the circumstances, having been the responsible thing to do. I wish I could have been there for those three weeks, even though I wouldn’t have been able to help Japan in any way – indeed, I would have just been another mouth to feed. But still, I can’t shake the feeling that I should have been there.
Love this idea. Anyone want to do a pop up one in NYC with me?
Cabel Saasser brings word of a mysterious cafe that he recently experienced in Kashiwa in Japan. Located inside the Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha, the Ogori cafe looks innocuous enough, but holds a surprise in store for…
(via peternyc)Source: psfk.com
This photo was taken with a $45 point-and-shoot, and it wasn’t by an astronaut sitting in a space shuttle!
Two regular guys sent their cheapoid camera 27 miles up into the sky by attaching it to a balloon! Duct tapes n’ elbow grease is all it takes sometimes, kids (see our DIY balloon tutorial!).