Quiet Reflection


I’m taking a few minutes to post about Japan. I just can’t comprehend the level of destruction over there. I’ve watched the news, “talked” via Facebook to friends in Okinawa, and cried over the videos.

You see, I lived in Japan.

  • I’ve walked on their sea walls. 
  • I’ve scuba dived in their oceans. 
  • I’ve flown in a Cessna over their islands. 
  • I’ve camped on their beaches. 
  • I’ve driven their little cars on the “wrong” side of the road.
  • I ran my first marathon through their towns (And, I might add, I was passed by what appeared to be 70 and 80 year old Japanese men and women).
  • I’ve taught in their schools. 
  • I learned to speak a little of their language and write a few characters.
  • They are my friends.

My hubby and I moved to Okinawa when we were newly married in 1998. We lived “off base” when we first arrived. We had a beautiful, traditional Japanese home with tatami mat floors and rice paper walls. You could not imagine, from looking at the ugly outside of our home, how beautiful it was on the inside.

If you haven’t seen this video of a Japanese village literally being carried away by the water, you must. It was 6 minutes of hell for me to watch because I know that on the inside, the shack-like homes that are being tossed around like sacks of garbage are most likely as beautiful as our little house was. They are someone’s home. They represent a lifetime of memories, worries, and sacrifice. I cannot comprehend what these poor, poor people are going through. I doubt most of us can.

The Japanese people are some of the nicest, most polite, most humble and proud people I have ever met. I doubt they will ask for the help they so desperately need. I am so glad I had the opportunity to live and work among them for 2 1/2 years. It taught me so much about life, about new cultures, about myself.

Have you donated to the relief efforts yet? Here is a link to the Red Cross, if you are so inclined. Or, you can text the Red Cross at 90999 and a $10 donation will automatically be added to your cell phone bill.

You can also “like” Voskos Yogurt on Facebook. For each “like” they receive between now and March 22, they pledge to donate $1 to Japanese relief efforts.

I hope you can send something over there to help. I am asking you to help in any way you can.

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  1. Ok, everything I wrote just got erased!!!
    So... here I go again.
    You wrote this so nicely, Michelle. I share your feelings on the Japanese/ Okinawan people. My time on Okinawa was the best of my life (so far?). I learned so much through living their culture, exploring and EMBRACING the new way of life.
    I LOVED the many, MANY foodie outings we all shared, trying new foods and ways of eating. It really was fun.
    Everyone should experience living in another country at SOME POINT in their lives... it can just be so profound, if you allow it to be!
    Thanks for sharing the awareness of this tragedy-- we all need to continue passing it along so others can help and be grateful for what they have in life at the moment.
    ---- Beth----
  2. The power of water is amazing but the power of the human spirt is even more magnificent. This is so sad and horrible. My heart goes out to them. I have never lived there but the first response team I am working with says that people are in shock, but hopeful and generous to a fault. It is so, so heartbreaking.
  3. Michelle, thank you so much for posting about this disaster.
    I'm from Japan and I live in the US now. So I experienced the different culture like you.
    I've been crying watching the news from Japan since it's happened. It is so heartbroken. my family was ok, but I can't contact to one of my friend in disaster area. All I can do is praying & donating, so I do what I can do now.
    I believe the power of praying and people. I'm sure we will recover from this awful situation, like our older ages did that in the past.
    I feel so thankful for alot of countries/people praying & helping for us, our country.
    As a Japanese, can't thank you guys enough.
  4. I agree, we here in the US can't know (unless you lived through Katrina perhaps, which I didn't). I can try to imagine, and videos like that one helped give me some perspective, but in the end I still can't really comprehend. Yet I too am still horrified and saddened and worried for all the people there. I can pray, donate and hope.
  5. Karin, I'm glad your family is safe and I sure hope you find your friend!! Ki o Tsukete!!! (I hope I got that right... )
  6. Michelle, doumo arigato gozaimasu for your warm thoughts. Yes you wrote it right! I'll keep praying. Thank you!
  7. Ok, Karin. This one is sure to be wrong: do i tashimashte. I still remember it as "don't touch my mustache." :-) As bad as this disaster is, I have had a lot of fun memories come back to me about my time in Japan. You are from a wonderful, beautiful country. I know Japan will recover and rebuild.
  8. Michelle,
    I am truly at a loss for words. I too have been following the news and devastation. My company has an office in Tokyo as we are world wide. We are happy to report everyone is safe. We also have efforts from within to help support/fund aid overseas.

    Although I have never been overseas it is something I would like to do someday. What an experience.

  9. don't touch my mustache!lol It's so funny!
    I forgot to laugh since last Friday, so this made my day. Thanks Michelle!
    And 'do i tashimashite' is totally correct. I'm so glad to see someone who is not Japanese say those words.
    Also I'm very glad for you to say good about my country. I'm glad you met good people and had a great time over there. I really wish I could fly over to Japan and do something for them, but I'll do what I can do right now here.
    If you are interested, there's a facebook page called 'prayforjapan.jp', and alot of people posted comments for Japanese people from all over the world. I check and read comments everyday and keep my spirit be positive.
    I know Japan is strong and will recover!!

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