I’ve wanted to go to Japan for a long time now, but I think it might have been the movie Lost in Translation which sealed it into my mind as an object of fascination. Recently, close friends went for a week and came back raving about how much they had enjoyed Tokyo.
So when in early February Singapore Airlines was offering a special 5 night package to Tokyo to promote their new double-decker Airbus A380 planes on the LAX-Tokyo route, we jumped on it. The package included round trip airfare, 5 nights at the Tokyo Hilton, airport transfers and 1/2 day tour all for about the same cost as the airfare and was valid for the dates we needed for David’s Spring Break (the travel life of a teacher is dictated by school schedules). We had to buy the package through one of the authorized travel agents Singapore Vacations uses, and while for some unexplained reason this prevented us form selecting our seats in advance (causing me much travel anxiety), I was happy with the outcome and set about planning the trip in the two months we had left before departure.
Then on March 11, 2011 disaster struck. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit offshore of the north east coast of Japan in the middle of the afternoon. Forty five minutes later, we watched the news, live from Japan, as a tsunami hit the coast, a gigantic wall of water slamming into buildings, roaring across fields, ripping apart everything in its path. In the aftermath, boats teetered atop buildings, cars were stacked 3 high like children’s toys, and houses, those which had not been shattered, were found upside down, blocks from their foundations. A nuclear power plant was all but destroyed and struggled to keep the reactors cool.
In the days which followed we were horrified and saddened at everything we saw, yet also profoundly impressed by …