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A week later

by J. C. Greenway
The Teas That Bind
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A post about life a week later, written after the Great East Japan Earthquake, taken from my book The Teas That Bind:

The Teas That Bind

An evening spent writing, with the Stones on the stereo and a glass of whisky close at hand.

That was my plan for last Friday evening, mulled over as I headed into Tokyo for a little light shopping on a beautiful spring day off work that luckily coincided with payday. Nature had other ideas though and once they were unleashed, it would be close to 30 hours before I saw my own front door again after walking through it that morning.

Now, a week later, we sit in a basement bar with the rumble of trains above our heads, swapping tales of where we were and what we saw, things we have read and can still barely believe. We don’t have any words to castigate those who made the alternative call, knowing that their reasons were as sound as the ones that kept us here, but knowing equally that we have made the right one for us. We are glad we stayed.

Colleagues, compatriots and strangers, all have become friends. We have hugged each other, soothed ragged nerves with laughter and together we have survived. We are no longer worried or fearful for ourselves, but for those in Northern Japan who have lost everything as the snow falls, the brave-beyond-words technicians in the power plant and loved ones at home who read the papers or watch the news and believe what they show.

The picture of a terrified Japan displayed in the UK media is not one I recognise. In the last seven days I have come to love the people of this city and country more than I believed possible. Today we were in Ueno, where the Zoo has been anticipating the unveiling of two giant pandas. The event has been delayed by the earthquake but the station is all set for their debut, as well as being a blaze of sakura blooms for this weekend’s hanami (flower viewing) holiday:

There is a long road ahead to heal the people and places left so devastated by last Friday’s earthquake, but from what I have seen in the last seven days, I know it can be done. Whatever my own small part in that will be, I am ready to play it.

Ganbatte Nippon!

To read more, please download a copy of The Teas That Bind, the story of my experiences in Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, available now from Amazon and Lulu.

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Finbar 19 March 2011 - 2:03 am

Wow! I think this may be my favourite article of yours so far- and thanks for the link.

James 19 March 2011 - 3:11 am

Yeah, I’m liking these post-event reports.

Incidentally, what Stones were you planning on listening to that fateful day?

(Nice to see Tom Vek on your ‘chart’ too).

Julia Smith 19 March 2011 - 11:32 pm

Thanks fellas, glad you enjoyed it!

James, I feel like I have been waiting for Tom Vek’s 2nd album for half my life…
And probably a bit of Beggar’s Banquet and Let it Bleed. But Play with Fire is my favourite all time ever song of theirs. Maybe. This week anyway!

markwoff 20 March 2011 - 5:26 pm

‘Play with fire’ – hahahaha! I picture Mick ‘n’ Keef helping dump water over Fukushima in a helicopter. Glad to be able to be flippant, I should add. Reading your dispatches has been a great antidote to the constant ‘doom in Japan’ scenarios playing across the telescreens back here in the Airstrip. It’s all doomed Libyans now, of course.
Top-drawer scribbles as usual, Smith.

Julia Smith 21 March 2011 - 11:55 am

Thanks, lad.
In a horribly literal moment, the ear-worm I had all day on Friday was some awful disco-esque shit ‘I feel the earth move under my feet…’ It was exactly like that bit in Touching the Void when he fears he’s going to die with Boney M playing in his head.

James 23 March 2011 - 11:45 pm

Yeah, Tom, what are you waiting for?

Beggar’s Banquet – good call. Dear Doctor, Parachute Woman, Factory Girl, Jigsaw Puzzle, Prodigal Son… what tunes.


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