May 24 2010 both my wife and I decided to take to do something absolutely crazy. Something neither of us had done before and would be an experience unlike any other we had ever had. We decided to take a trip the country known to them selves as Nihon and to the rest of the world known as . We plotted a date on our calendar. April 1 . Now this date is more than just a date. This date falls right after our anniversary and also is the start of when the Sakura or cherry trees begin to blossom. During this short time of the year all of Japans trees turn to a very bright pink color and give off a very unique aroma. With a date picked we hit the ground running with planning and saving. We purchased our plane tickets, paid for our hotel rooms, ordered tickets to the major attractions we would be visiting, ordering our Yen ( ’s currency). But it wasn’t all just planning we needed to do we also needed to get ourselves into the right mind set.
Now both my wife and I have never been in a real city before let alone went to another country. As far as cities go the largest ever being which has just over 2 million residents. We would now be going to the world’s largest city consisting of 39 million people many of them that don’t speak the same language. To put this in perspective both her and I grew up in the city of FL which as of 2008 had a population of just under 600,000 people.
We plotted our trip to consist of 11 days most of this being in . From Tokyo we would travel to a smaller city called Kyoto and then to the much smaller town of Hakone which only consists roughly of only 13,000 people. We wanted it all from the biggest had to offer all the way to the smallest. We wanted to see the History from from the rebuilt now known as to modern day activities of the Japanese people like Pachinko. Months came and went as we prepared. We learned the basics of the Japanese language hopefully enough to get us by. We learned how to use a subway system, eat with chopsticks, drink sake and mind our manners around the very pious Japanese people.
March 11 2011 less than 4 weeks before the trip experienced a massive 9.0 earthquake almost 81 miles off the coast of the northern city of . The earthquake is the 5 most powerful earthquake ever recorded. This earthquake was the lesser of the evils however. Moments after the earthquakes strike it caused a Tsunami that at its peak stood almost 33 feet high and landed almost 6 miles inland. Its estimated that almost 20,000 people have gone missing or have been injured and killed. Almost 1/30 the population of my hometown and that number is still growing. The damages were estimated at 233 billion U.S dollars but the worse had yet to appear. The tsunami also effected 5 Nuclear power plants in Only causing serious damage to 2 of the plants known as Fukashima I and Fukashima II. Now is no stranger to earthquakes and tsunamis. In fact both happen on a regular basis. also happens to be one of the world’s top producers of nuclear power. As such the nuclear plants were protected from these types of incidents and could deflect tsunamis up to 19 feet high. Due to the uncertainty of the extent of the damage everyone within 12 miles of the plant was evacuated.
It was from here the news media began to take over most of the reports coming from US and sources such as CNN, Fox, BBC, and The Guardian. All of them with a common agenda to boost their viewer ratings. Immediately claims started coming forward claiming the Nuclear “crisis” in Japan was going to be as bad or worse than the Chernobyl incident, an event that took place in a town in the Ukraine with a Nuclear reactor back in 1986 which to this day has been blamed on over 10,000 cases of cancer and caused almost 200 miles on inhospitable land. The incident has caused some of the most dangerous areas of the world because of the surrounding areas high levels of radiation. These claims by the media immediately started to cause panic from all over the globe. From the all the way to people feared this possibility and even went so crazy as to buy up large supply of Iodine tablets, Nuclear radiation protective clothing and personal Radiation detecting devices. But none of this went to the one place that may have actually needed it. From to people prepared for nuclear fallout to land in their back yards. News sources brought on their experts and even the Japanese Ambassador to talk about “ ’s Nuclear Crisis”. While the experts would insist there was no chance of this being reporters would insist they had “sources” that said it was possible and that people on the west coast of the should prepare for clouds of radioactive material to land on US grounds. News reports started surfacing about radiation contaminated foods, contaminated airplanes, airline passengers, and even that most of the population of was contaminated. Things looked pretty grim for the country of . To show the severity of things many news sources also started interviewing and survivors to show the severity of Japans second “nuclear disaster”.
We could not believe this all had happened just before our long awaited trip. I remember discussing the trip with her. I had fallen for the news reports I told her we shouldn’t go, everyone around us told us not to go. She told me to step back from our TV and follow the news of . I didn’t see how the reports could be so different but regardless I took her advice anyways and went to follow blogs of residents where people wouldn’t even know what was going on if it weren’t for the news as most of their power had not even gone out. was calm and peaceful from what things looked like. Videos also started surfacing on popular websites such as youtube, cries of residents pleading to the western Media to stop their lies. This intrigued me. The people who should be concerned the most about all this cared mostly about the devastated north and acted as if there really wasn’t an issue with the reactors. I began to follow the news even more now I wanted to know who was telling the truth here. More stories from Western new sources began to arise showing videos of people “fleeing” ’s streets in their cars and Food shortages in . Japanese Residents responded with their own videos showing ’s streets during rush hour traffic which showed cars lined up as far as the eye can see then showed midday and night traffic which for the most part was non existent. The Food shortages talked about in western media did come to be true as stores had been wiped clean but for only a matter of hours before everything was restocked after the initial panic had finished and people realized they had far to much food.
We had only 2 weeks left to decide if we needed to reschedule. My wife called our airline to see how cancellations and reschedules worked as well as we needed to know by when we needed to make our decision by. She spoke to a Japanese woman who said to my wife. “Thank you for waiting on your decision to cancel my country is beautiful and it needs you” is a country that’s economy is built off its industrial nature as well as its tourism. It’s a country that attracts almost 10 million tourists in a year. It is a country despite its size is highly influential from their electronics manufacturers down to their art styles which are often known in other regions outside anime and manga styled drawings. needs tourists to help rebuild its damaged north. We gathered what we thought were the facts because there was only one way to find out if we were right. See you in 3 weeks.