Great East Japan Earthquake = An Inspiration

Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 by Mr. Tambay

March 11, 2011 was really a memorable day for the country Japan, because a magnitude 9.0 (JME Scale) hit the Tohoku Region, then followed by huge wave of tsunami. The earthquake and the tsunami caused big damage to the affected areas, many families lost their houses and their properties, and plenty of our Japanese brothers and sisters died. It was recorded as the No. 1 Biggest Earthquake in Asia and ranked No. 4 Biggest Earthquake in the world.

But Japan shocked the international community for their fast recovery from the tragedy. Sendai Airport resumed its operation 3 months after it was fully destroyed by the tsunami. Tsunami Evacuation Towers were already built after a month. Many establishments has started over again, and many families have recovered from their big loss.

Yours truly was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Land of the Rising Sun as Philippine-Tohoku Goodwill Ambassador for the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) with the theme "Disaster Management and Recovery Efforts" last May 8-16, 2012 along with 99 other student ambassadors from different parts of the Philippines. We were given a chance to visit Japan and experience the taste of their country like no other tourist can.

Now why do I consider the Great East Japan Earthquake an inspiration? Let me tell you first my experience before answering this question.

Mr. Nakabayashi giving us a lecture on our first day in Japan.

It started when we arrived in Japan exactly 3 PM (Japan time). After arriving at Narita International Airport, we proceeded our way to Grand Pacific Le Daiba, located in Odaiba, Tokyo for Orientation. On the orientation, Mr. Hironobu Nakabayashi, a research expert in Meiji University, gave us a lecture on the current status of the affected areas, including the radiation status and the water and food status of the entire Japan. It was through him that I learned that the Japanese government already installed Tsunami Evacuation Towers in some parts of Japan. He admitted that his English is not very good but I appreciate his efforts in enlightening us about the status quo of Tohoku Region.

Yours truly, asking a question to Mr. Nakabayashi.

After the lecture, we immediately proceeded to Tokyo Station for our travel to Iwate Prefecture. The trip took about 2 hours via bullet train, so just imagine how fast the speed of their bullet train is! We arrived and our group, Fukuoka Group, stayed at Bellino Hotel Ichinoseki together with another group, Hokkaido Group. The next day, our group and the Hokkaido Group proceeded to Saito Seika Co., a company with Kamome no Tamago (Seagull Eggs) as their product, which is located at Ofunato, Iwate. While we are on our way to Saito Seika Co., we can't help but notice the trash that the tsunami left a year ago.

Rocks that were former foundations of buildings and damaged cars.
Another pile of rocks, and I think there were the remains of a certain house.
Trunks of trees that were taken down by the rushing waters.
In case you noticed, the only floor in this building left undamaged is the 5th floor. That's how high the water level was.
Pine Trees turned red because of salt damage, and these pine trees are very high! Imagine how deep the water level was.

We arrived at Saito Seika Co. Manufacturing Site, the site that was not damaged nor touched by the tsunami. Here, Mr. Toshiaki Saito, one of the owners, retold to us their unforgettable experience when the tsunami happened. Their main office was entirely destroyed by the waves from the sea. Fortunately, no one died because Mr. Saito warned his employees to evacuate right away.

Saito Seika Co.
Saito Seika Co. Main Office after the tsunami.
Another view of Saito Seika Co. Main Office after the tsunami.
This is placed at the top of Saito Seika Co. Main Office. The water level reached  8.5 meters.
After our visit at Saito Seika Co. in Ofunato, we immediately proceeded to Kessennuma in Miyage Prefecture. We tried oyster cultivation the Japanese way, which we admitted that it was our first time to cultivate oysters. After the cultivation experience, we head our way to Karakuwa Visitors Center and Tsunami Museum. In there, memories about the earthquake and tsunami and some information about the Great East Japan Earthquake were compiled and collected for public viewing.

Now for the answer, I consider the Great East Japan Earthquake an inspiration because it gives us a very great lesson. The lesson is to strive to rise even in your greatest fall. Japan was at their bottom when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck the Northern Part of Japan, but despite this, they manage to stand up right away. A perfect example for the saying "If you're down, then there's no way to go but up."

Photos of the damages of the Great East Japan Earthquake
A simulation of a small and a big tsumani wave.
Our tour guide at Karakuwa Visitors Center explained to us some stories that happened during the earthquake.
After the exhibits, we experience a little simulation of an earthquake paired with videos of earthquake scenes.
The very famous Pine Tree of Hope. Before the tsunami happened, there were plenty of pine trees in that area. After that, that is the only pine tree that survived the tsunami waves.
The Japanese made the Great East Japan Earthquake an avenue for education, to educate people about the impact of safety and the importance of nature and its relation to our safety. Hence, Karakuwa Visitors Center was built because of the tragedy. Not only that, the Japanese people themselves were not fully dependent to the government. They managed to stand up on their own and treated the government's help as their secondary aid in recovering, a very important message that will give a very big impact to us Filipinos, especially that Philippines is prone to typhoons. The deed by the Japanese government itself, by inviting us to visit Japan for the JENESYS Programme coordinated by Japan International Cooperation Center, was already an act of encouraging other countries like the Philippines to keep even a single ounce of hope whenever bad times happen to our country.

I hope that this post makes you realize that we also need to exert our efforts in helping our country stand up. It is not only the government's burden to uplift the country as a whole, in fact, the biggest power lies in the hands of us, the Filipinos. Like what John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural speech when he was elected as President of the United States of America, "Ask not what your country can do to you, ask what you can do for your country."