Yesterday was tough. The first full day back to work since the earthquake was always going to be something of a shock to the system and naturally there was only one main theme of conversation for the adult students. Where were you, what did you see and exactly how long did it take you to get home?
There was also a genuine curiosity as to how a real live foreigner is reacting to the crisis. Maybe they have read about the ‘flyjin‘ and are surprised to see that some of us have stayed, but there was also genuine concern for my safety, some checking that I knew what to do during a quake and enquiries as to how my family felt about me still being here.
It felt slightly strange to be providing reassurance that I felt safe, knew that I should open a door and duck under a table, that I had huge faith in Japanese engineering and building technology after seeing how little damage there had been in central Tokyo. I am not entirely sure if I was trying to comfort those listening or myself. As students told me that they jumped every time they heard a strange noise in the office, that they were buying bottled water as a precaution for their daughters or that a 30-minute commute home had taken seven hours to complete, I wondered whether we would ever be able to return to ‘normal’.
I also wondered what this was accomplishing, feeling equally powerless to assist in the face of such devastation or a student’s sudden tears. So I came home, opened a bottle of wine, heard from some amazing people on Twitter and then regained a sense of perspective. I didn’t have a tough day at work. It was perhaps a little rougher than usual, but not in any way tough. If you want to see some people who had a tough day at work yesterday, click here.
The Fukushima 50 are risking everything to keep everyone in Japan safe. So next time I feel like having a whinge, I will be thinking of everything they are going through and lifting my chin a little higher.