September 1st, 2010 – I decided to travel to Japan with two of my closest friends. We had another friend, Amy, who graduated from Linfield 2009 and was living and teaching in the southern part of the country and we were really excited to see her! We started to talk seriously about the trip and finding good travel dates.
September 15th, 2010 – We bought our tickets to fly into Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan for March 31st! We were super excited to see Amy and the two friends I was traveling with had never been to Asia, so we it was going to be an adventure on so many levels.
March 10th, 2011 – An 8.9 earthquake, accompanied by multiple tsunamis, strikes off the coast of Sendai, Japan. Our parents and everyone we know begins to freak out about us traveling in a few weeks while my friends and I look for ways to turn our vacation into something meaningful.
March 14th, 2011 – An explosion at the Fukushima nuclear reactor causes increased levels of radiation leakage and parental freaking-out. Realizing that we don’t want to come back glow-in-the-dark, I start reading more about nuclear radiation and quickly understand why it requires several advanced degrees to become a nuclear engineer. Still, I’m able to understand enough to know that the vast majority of the danger and damage is in Fukushima and Sendai. Both are as far north of Tokyo (the furthest north I’d be traveling) as Eugene, OR to Medford, OR. I sent every article from a reputable source and many, many maps to my parents to help them understand the geography of Japan and – which, unsurprisingly, didn’t actually help their anxiety much.
March 20th, 2011 – After doing some research and talking to Amy – our friend in Japan – we realized that the disaster is at such an early stage that unskilled volunteers (that’s me!) weren’t really able to help at this stage. However, because so many people fled the tsunami and earthquake in the middle of the night, there is a need for socks, but it isn’t a need being met by the usual aid agencies. SO we put out a call for socks to donate to those affected by the tsunami.
March 30th, 2011 – After having a sock-packing party with nearly a hundred pairs of socks, we head up to Portland to spend the night before our early morning flight.
March 31st, 2011 – We get on a plane bound for Tokyo!
April 1st, 2011 – After twelve hours of travel, we finally arrive at Narita airport and proceed to navigate the (VERY) complex Tokyo train system. Amy meets us at the hostel and we immediately go to bed because we’re exhausted from an obscenely long plane flight.
April 2nd, 2011 – After all the journeying, our time in Japan begins! On our first day we see a giant Buddah and walk around the town, the beginning of a great adventure…