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Posted on: August 15, 2011 12:23 am by small image

Last week, I had the chance to go on a volunteer tour to Japan, to one of the areas the tsunami and earthquakes struck. (I will refrain from pictures, because of the level of devestation there)

The tour started with my group flying into Narita Airport. From there, using what Japanese we knew, we headed to Tokyo, to ride the bus that would take us to the area we would work at. The scenery of Japan during most of our trip was beautiful; green fields stretched far and wide, and little houses stood all over the place. What a contrast it provided, I thought, from the tall buildings and cramped landscape of Korea.

The work itself was enjoyable; over two days, our group cleared trash from a beach, and pulled knee-tall weeds from a large field. Though the days were baking hot, the work felt great. And even though most of the bus ride around was spent in catching up with sleep, I had a tremendous time.

The first day, we even got to tour downtown, and I had my first taste of Katsu-don (basically pork cutlet with rice and soy sause, with egg on top), cream-and-strawberry crepe, melon soda (at KFC :), and Japanese sticker photos.. (which automatically enlarged the pupils to impossible size, making all of us crack up) Though the days were hot, I really enjoyed every minute of our tour.

During the volunteer tour, I had the privelage of translating for my group… where I was the only one who knew even a bit of Japanese. I must say, I aslo had the chance to practice much, for there were many Japanese people around us :3

But exciting as being in Japan and sightseeing was, the full impact of the video footage I saw of the tsunami on television struck me. Buildings were rendered to their foundations, and entire neighborhoods were simply swept away, leaving barren, empty land. 20,000 people were killed, and the amount of property loss was stunning. It truly was great to be able to help in what little way we could, and I really could not have spent my week doing anything better.