Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The possibles and impossibles from Tohoku (0/3)

Five months on since the big temblor on March 11 that shook Tohoku region and delivered several stories-tall tsunami, it is quite possible for you to visit Sendai without noticing that nothing unusual had ever happened. Bustling central train station, blaring advertisements set on the sides of the skyscrapers, if you had had no access to the news since the last six months and had no any Japanese comprehension whatsoever, you would have been none the wiser.

Which is unremarkable, really, as merely one month after the big quake, it was already quite impossible to see any vestiges of damage at all in Tokyo. When Septian and I went there on April, the only thing that gave it away was that most of the escalators and elevators at the train stations are inoperational. That and the fact that Shinjuku and Shibuya area was dimmer at night--most of the skyscrapers weren't illuminated to conserve energy. Fukushima energy crisis and all, you see. It was only because I had been there once before that I noticed something was amiss. The throngs of people are still crowding the area, mind you.

But when I think about my recent trip to Fukushima-Miyagi via Sendai, it is quite impossible to see the ruins of tsunami for yourself and not be awed by the immense power that nature can unleash at her whim. At the same time, it also quite impossible not to stand in awe of the people's resilience, and to respect mankind's ingenuity. At the very least, watching the gigantic walls being built on the side of the winding road to Ishinomaki from Sendai and the bridges being built in Fukushima made me understand Egalita's desire to be a civil engineer.

What I find was odd is that it is quite possible to go to Fukushima prefecture and not give a damn about radioactivity. We check the radiation level in Ishinomaki and on our way to Fukushima, for sure (and we found that the reading was nothing to be worried of) but to be honest my mind relegated this radioactivity issue as a non-issue. After all, it did me better trying not to retch whenever we found a fridge that hasn't been opened for nigh on half a year, or whenever we stepped on a rice stock went moldy, or even whenever I had to use the vile portable loo.

It's only been two days since I'm back in Kyoto, but I wish I could spend my whole summer up there. Too bad it's quite impossible to do so.

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