Why this is only blog #3.5 – Return to #Tohoku #3.5

Before I left for Japan, I had figured I would have time to write, in and amongst the crazy hectic schedule I created for myself and the drinking and general shenanigans that went along with returning to see friends throughout Fukushima.  I did fall a bit behind but had written a few blogs and took copious notes throughout my trip about how I was feeling and what I was thinking about.  My initial blog about Tokyo was written in a travel blog style, with descriptive paragraphs, metaphors and the like, in order to entice and excite you and I assume after all is said and done it still will be along those lines.  But there was one thing I hadn’t counted on during this short jaunt through the land of the rising sun.  And that one thing was Soma.

So, on my last night in Japan, sitting in my hotel in Tokyo, I’m going to give the reason for my lack of posting up until now, other than an excuse for not blogging blog (see, Return to Tohoku #3).  And this very well may turn into another excuse for not blogging blog, but hey, you’ve read this far and look how much more there is to go!

This past Sunday, I went with a bunch of foreigners to go and volunteer with Hearts for Haragama, a group I’ve blogged about before.  After spending the day with children from different kindergartens in the Soma area, they took me out to the coast.  The JETs that have been out to Soma a few times decided to take me out to Tsukasa’s (the owner of the Haragama kindergarten) house.

As we began to near the wreckage I had my camera going and got Jay to shoot a video with my Xacti.  At first, it was just as I had seen in the news.  Pictures of buses in the water and some buildings.  But as we got closer and closer to the Pacific Ocean, the utter destruction began to take over.  At first I was amazed at how different everything was, giant concrete tetrapods that had lined the coastline were now gone, washed away by the sheer power of the tsunami.  Cars, still lay smashed at the side of the road, in parking lots and beside the shells of buildings that the tsunami left behind.  We couldn’t even return to the beach that I had gone to almost every weekend of every summer for four years because the bridge that would take us up and over the cove that I had always used was no longer safe to drive on. Continue reading


This is busy and hectic – Return to Tohoku #3

I have about half of a blog written for my night in Tokyo and my first impressions coming into Japan.  I just haven’t had time to write the rest of it.  I will start putting out the blogs rapid fire when I have more time, probably starting tomorrow night.  I think I’ll also be on CBC Radio 1 again on Monday morning (EST).  For now, check out some of the pics I’ve shared on Twitter.

Akabeko in Yanaizu

The Aki-Matsuri on Shinmei dori in Aizu


Jason Ishida at the GCF


Pre-Japan thoughts – Return to Tohoku #2

This is the second post in my Return to Tohoku series.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was nervous while heading to the airport today.  Maybe it came from drinking a little bit more wine then I should have last night with friends.  But nonetheless an anxious nervousness swept over me as I loaded my bag in the car and grew as my girlfriend, dog and I, sped towards theOttawaairport.  Thankfully she talked and I was content to listen while I pet the dog in my lap.

I don’t know where this nervousness came from.  I’ve done this trip what seems like a million times.  Although, now sitting here rocketing above the Earth, north ofYellowknife, I am a little bit more calm and nervousness is slowly building into excitement.  I can’t see sleeping in the 9 hours I still have left, but we’ll see how I’m feeling in 5 or 6.

This trip is different then all others.  It’s not strictly business or travel for pleasure; it’s a mixed bag of everything.  It’s a trip that is a homecoming with business, reunions, government employees and tourist adventures all added in for good measure.  While I don’t expect a ticker-tape parade or anyone to even notice, for me, it will be huge.  Getting off that train inFukushimacity will probably be the best feeling I’ve had in awhile.

The nervousness I’m feeling may stem from my uncertainty.  What am I really going to find?  Is this place that up until a year ago was my home, really that different?  And what is expected of me?  While I understand the overall concept of having former JETs return to Japan, I’m not quite sure what I can do.  What can one person accomplish for a country they don’t live in?  I’m still trying to figure that one out, but in the meantime, I’m just going to write down everything that happens and whatever I do or come across and put it out on the internet. Continue reading

A Rough Guide To My Fukushima Trip – Return to Tohoku #1

Image via Nippon-Jin.com

Really quickly, below is a brief itinerary of my return to Tohoku trip.  I will be blogging all of it under the category of Return To Tohoku.  So, I guess this is the first entry.  I do still have a half-written blog, but given how busy I’ve been this last month and a half, I feel like the next time I’ll get to sit down and finish it all will be when I get on the plane that will take me from Toronto to Tokyo.  Below, I’ve mashed down the 8 page itinerary I created for myself to the bare bones skeleton, just to let people know where I’ll be at.  I’ve also added some links and facts that I honestly ripped right off of the websites sited.  Like I said, I just don’t have time. Continue reading

Still alive, just really busy.

So, it’s been a little bit since I’ve posted and I’m crazy busy. I’m halfway through a blog about the process of being accepted to the Return to Tohoku Initiative put together by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japanese Tourism Board. I’ll be leaving on September 21st. While you wait with bated breath, please enjoy the following articles and interviews I’ve done recently.

First up, Ottawa Citizen. I’ve learned, these sites don’t archive all of their stuff, so I’ll be reproducing entire articles below for future reference so that there aren’t dead links later on. Click the link if you want to go to the actual article. Continue reading