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An Inspiration from a Big Disaster: My Visit to Japan

This blog post is written by Mark Razonable.

Pine Trees turned red because of salt damage, and these pine trees are very high! Imagine how deep the water level was.

March 11, 2011 – this is a memorable day for the country Japan. It was on this day that a Magnitude 9.0 (JME Scale) striked the Northern part of Japan, particularly the Tohoku Region, which was followed right away by huge waves of tsunami. Large chunk of Japan was affected, which includes the families losing their houses and their properties, and even love-ones. The Great East Japan Earthquake was then recorded the No. 1 Biggest Earthquake in Asia and the 4th Biggest Earthquake in the World.

Rocks that were former foundations of buildings and damaged cars.

Despite the very big hurdle of challenge Japan had to face as a country, they manage to stand up abruptly. Sendai Airport, after 3 months, resumed their operation. Tsunami Evacuation Towers were built a month after the tragedy. Businesses have started over again and families have already recovered.

As you can see, the only floor in this building left undamaged is the 5th floor. That's how high the water level was.

A year had past when I was given a rare chance to visit the tsunami-stricken areas throught Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth (JENESYS) with the theme: Disaster Management and Recovery Efforts. Together with other Filipino students and youths from different parts of Philippines, we visited the Land of the Rising Sun as Student Ambassadors of the Philippines.

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.

After the entire duration of the JENESYS programme, I personally consider the Great East Japan Earthquake an “inspiration” to us. An inspiration because the tragedy taught not only me, but also my co-ambassadors a very big lesson that I personally will not forget. The lesson is to strive to rise even in your greatest fall. If you are down, there is nowhere else to go but up. Japan, for me, was at their very bottom when the earthquake and tsunami happened, especially the residents of the affected areas. But they managed to stand up at their own feet despite the big casualties.

A tour guide at Karakuwa Visitors Center explaining some stories that happened during the earthquake.

Japanese made the Great East Japan Earthquake an avenue for education, to educate fellow Japanese, and non-Japanese about the importance of safety and the impact of nature with regards to our safety. Karakwua Visitors Center and Tsunami Museum was created and built because of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

And the most amazing part the Japanese showed to me was when they were not fully dependent on the governments aid in recovering. In fact, they treated it secondary in their means of recovering from the incident. This is one of the things that made me realize that it is indeed time for the Philippines to stop shouting for help all the time. The Philippine government is doing their 100% to help us in times of disasters, so we must also do our counterpart, and that is to help ourselves. Rallies and coup d’etats do not help us. We need to help ourselves also, and I mean actions, not empty words.

Read more about Mark’s visit to Japan here.

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