As I said in my first post, I went to the MOFA at 10am. The meeting was very straightforward, and the people were extremely nice. (I won't bore you with all the details of the meeting.)
After the meeting, I headed off to Tokyo station where I planned to take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Sendai. To my surprise, the first shinkansen was fully booked to Sendai so I had to wait 30 minutes for the next one (which was alright because this gave time to get some lunch). The trip up to Sendai was smooth. Once in Sendai, I made my way to the hotel and checked in. From there I hurried to the station again to catch a train to Shiogama. But of course, with the luck I was having with transportation, I arrived just as the train was leaving. Not the worst thing to happen by any means, but that put me behind schedule.
I eventually made it Shiogama (and instantly noticed some damage around the train station) and went city hall. There I was greeted by the Mayor and vice-mayor, along with many staff from the Shiogama Board of Education, and they welcomed
me back. We talked about the state of the city after the earthquake, and I was shown a book full of photos of the damage in Tohoku. Most I had seen in the news already but to see them all in one book was a bit of a shock. They said they had made much progress in the reconstruction, and this was something I wanted to see. From city hall I went to the Board of Education to meet the staff again and to discuss my week. It’s a very busy schedule but I know I can’t afford to get worn out because there are people, places, and things I want to and need to see.
After that I had time to spare before meeting a friend so I decided to explore the damaged area (just in case something in my scheduled took longer than planned). I saw so many shops boarded up, new buildings that were not originally there, and places in the midst of being repaired. Shiogama AEON mall (a 2-story mall with a grocery store) had been very badly damaged by the tsunami was re-opened a week or 2 before I returned so I had a
Some damage can be seen around the port area
chance to check it out. It looked very different. The entire first floor was destroyed so they had to renovate it all, and even the 2nd floor had some damage and a few shops were still being renovated. It’s great to see it open again. So many people must have lost their jobs on March 11th, so it’s nice to know that a few jobs are restored. I attempted to walk to Marine Gate, which was also greatly damaged, but there was construction on the road and the streetlights weren’t working so I decided to wait and see it another day. But from what I could see in the distance, it wasn’t fully restored yet.
I later met with a former Japanese teaching colleague and she was able to tell me more about the damages that occurred. She lives in the neighbouring town of Shichigahama, another port town that was also damaged. Her car and many other got damaged by the tsunami, some still haven’t been recovered, others are still sitting damaged in the parking lot where they were left. We drove into Shichigahama and I saw some areas still damaged, some streetlights still not functioning. But as I
Hon Shiogama Station
Unfortunately, many shops around the main station/port area were damaged and remain closed.
was told by a fellow JET living in the city, this is all an improvement. It was worse in March and has been getting better day by day. Also, having lived in this city and walked everywhere within, I realize that I might be mentioning things that people from outside the city might not notice. Although I hadn’t been to Shiogama in a year, I remembered all the details, so naturally I think I am more aware of all the little changes then others might be.
By 10pm, I was exhausted. I had travelled so much, seen so much and heard so much (the jet lag wasn’t helping either) that I could not stay awake a minute longer. After a busy day like today, I had an idea of what to expect in the days to come...
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