Monday, September 5, 2011

My thoughts and prayers with the people of Wakayama, Japan

Twenty-five years ago today, I was beginning my adventure in Japan...an adventure that would keep me in the country for three years and result in meeting the love of my life and traveling throughout Asia. Late in August I got on an airplane with my college roommate Debbie, and we flew across the ocean on a very long flight (with a stop in Seoul, Korea). It was the first time I'd ever been out of the country, and I spoke only a word or two of Japanese.

Saying goodbye to my family at the airport gate--a little over 25 years ago!
 (check out that perm!)
My parents were the same ages as Mike and I are now--46 and 48!!!
Getting from Portland to Wakayama was an adventure in itself, one that warrants an entirely different blog post. Suffice it to say that once we finally reached our destination, we were incredibly relieved. I will never forget that first fall morning in Wakayama...and the wonder of it all. My first time out of the country, and I felt like I'd stepped into an enchanted world...rich to the senses.

My new adopted city in the fall--Wakayama City

First trip to Kyoto

On the train in Osaka (with our friend Abby, who we sadly lost touch with) and Robert (one of our employers)
(Robert and his colleague Hiroshi are another story to themselves--sadly, they turned out to be highly unethical, shifty employers who took advantage of foreigners--unlike most Japanese)

At Wakayama Castle during cherry blossom viewing
 As you can see, I have fond memories of my time in Wakayama. (I moved to Osaka the following year to be closer to Mike, who lived there.) I'm feeling nostalgic and sad for the people of Japan, with the recent devastating typoon in Wakayama prefecture, following so close after the horrible earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. Even though it's been over 22 years since I left Japan, a piece of my heart will always remain there.

At least 19 people have been confirmed dead, and more than 50 people have been confirmed missing. More than 460,000 people have been issued evacuation orders, and the rain keeps falling. Here are some photos showing the devastation in Wakayama Prefecture:

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It's a horrible tragedy that such a beautiful country full of rich history and culture has been struck by so many disasters this year. I know that the Japanese will do their best to rebuild and carry on--that's what they do. But my heart is feeling heavy for the Japanese people. How much more will they have to endure?

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