DD and I have been planning a trip to Japan for well over a year now. In January we decided on when we’d travel (Springtime, for hanami, or cherry-blossom viewing season), bought our plane tickets and began to make concrete plans as to where to go, what do do, where to stay.
On the 6th of March we also ordered our Japan Rail Pass – an all-you-can eat train pass that enables you to travel all over Japan by Shinkansen, or bullet train. Note that it’s available to foreigners only, sold in increments of 7, 14, and 21 days.
4 days later, on Thursday evening, (March 10th) as we were getting ready for bed, reports of the Tohoku earthquake hit the news. When we rose the next morning, we listened and watched with horror at the unfolding news of the crisis, of the ensuing Tsunami, of the ominous damage to the nuclear power plants in Fukushima, the possibility that the Tsunami might reach Hawaii and the shores of the US West Coast.
Over the course of that dreadful first week, we’ve been on wait-and-see mode, staying on top of the news, scouring the internet for first-hand accounts of the situation in Tokyo and other parts of Japan. I was definitely struck by the copious amounts of information that was available, or made available by numerous bloggers, Japanese news sites and especially, Twitterers. There were accounts by numerous private citizens, official agencies (the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office; the US Ambassador to Tokyo, John V. Roos) and various news reporters. We were especially glad to see that NHK, Japan’s Public Broadcasting Network, had begun streaming live, 24-hour news. And I’ve also been glued to my Japan Twitter list for timely updates.