Walking and Connecting — an Australian in Japan’s Tsunami Zone
Greetings from Andy, ariTV’s resident American.
His first visits to Japan were on a Sister City homestay and participation in the JENESYS Project.
He was in Japan in February, 2011.
Unsatisfied with sensationalist media reporting, Aaron unplugged and stopped following their coverage. His connections with Japan were his studies and personal friendships.
After some time, he met a group of students from Miyagi who told him their disaster stories.
And he joined a 300-km walk supporting solar energy in South Australia.
That led to the idea to walk from Tōkyō to Miyagi.
Seared into his memory are the words of a man he met, spoken in English:
“I lost five friends, this tsunami.”
The man said nothing else.
Along the way he met so many people who showed him unbounded kindness.
“I realized despite experiencing all that they’re still head up high, walking and enjoying life. I was inspired by that.”
Aaron explains that the experience was draining, much less physically than emotionally. The scale of the disaster was just too overwhelming.
“I’m just so glad it’s finished, and that fortunately for me, I can go home. I go home, but these people don’t.”
Back in Australia, Aaron vows to make sure Tōhoku’s story is known, and personally he already has plans to come back to Japan himself.
He wants to return to Tōhoku and join the community, and “help in any way [he] can, just making people smile.”
He’s off to a good start, spreading cheer at ariTV with a sweet little impromptu sing-along concert.