It's been exactly two years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and although reconstruction has been swift and some people are back to leading regular lives, there are still numerous people living in temporary housing, and people who left the affected area for good. I cannot believe that a natural disaster of that proportion happened just a few hundreds kilometers north from where I live, and that it took so many lives in the matter of a few minutes.
Even though my personal experience of this event was absolutely insignificant compared to how it affected those people in Tohoku, I'll always vividly remember how unsettling I felt at the time. I remember having just moved to Osaka, having no friends there, and witnessing many people I knew just leave the country in a mass exodus. I could not imagine leaving as my life was in Japan, and the idea of going back home to no job or apartment was more terrifying than staying in Japan during uncertainty.
It's the time of my life where I felt the most isolated and I was unable to sleep properly for several weeks. I didn't want my friends and family to worry so I was trying to reassure them, even though I had to convince myself it was okay. I had never felt so lonely in my whole life and I realized how important it is to have roots, and a sense of home. It was a very troubling time, but I'll never regret staying in Japan.
Things have changed now, not only for me but for most people in Japan after this, even though most lives seemed to have gone back to normal. The area still needs volunteers to help out, so if you're interested, there are various programs available, like here and here.
In unrelated news.... today, a smog cloud from China and sandstorm passed over Tokyo, resulting in yellowish, scary-looking skies. It reminded me of how the sky usually was in Seoul, foggy and polluted. Wearing a mask is a good idea lately.