I started for Japan, the country of sunrise on the 20th of January, 2013 as a member of the Bangladesh team to participate in the Kizuna (Bond) Project. I along with the 7 other team members set foot on the soil of Japan on 21st January, 2013 early in the morning. The Kizuna Project officially started on the very day and the activities of the first day were in the capital city Tokyo.
On the first day we went to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Centre. We saw the seminar rooms, the beautiful structure of the centre and afterwards attended a lecture that provided us with a lot of important information about the Great East Japan Earthquake, the great loss that Japan had suffered from, how they handled the situation etc.
Japan experiences around 900 earthquakes each year. The nature of this disaster-prone country has made its people tough, strong and determined. The buildings of Japan are earthquake proof and can stand shakes of high magnitude. All the buildings have emergency exits and people are trained so that they can escape any unfortunate scenario. As a result, Japanese people don't panic during disastrous situations.
On January 22, we went to the Sendai City from Tokyo using the Shinkansen (Bullet train). The whole city was covered in snow. We spent 7 days in Sendai and visited the Tohoku region. I was astonished to see the huge amount of debris caused by the disaster. The debris caused by the calamity in Miyagi prefecture only was more than the normal waste accumulated in that area in 15 years.
We visited Matsushima, a place of pure natural beauty that had been affected by the disaster. Japan's tourism was greatly affected because of this disaster. We also went to Ishinomaki city and saw how the volunteers played a very big role in the reconstruction work.
During our visit to Soma city, I was shocked to learn about how much damage was caused to the fisheries sector of Japan because of the tsunami. We also had the chance to visit a strawberry farm in that city and I was so happy to see the small bushes full with red, ripe strawberries! We were allowed to pick as many strawberries as we wanted and they were delicious. I was sad to hear that foreign people were still afraid to eat the agro-foods cultivated in the Fukushima prefecture. Actually, they were not aware that strict measurement of nuclear radiation was constantly carried out by the Japan Govt and only the completely safe foods were marketed. The places that were not safe for visiting are labelled as "No go region" and people were not allowed to go there.
During our stay in Sendai, we also got the chance to visit a TV station and we learned how they played a vital role during the disaster period by conveying the real message to the people all over the world.
The next day, we paid a visit to Miyagi Gakuin Women's University and there we had an exchange program where the students shared their experiences with us. I was able to make a few good friends there. In the university, Professor Anne Thomas (an American professor) provided us with a very informative presentation about her experiences of the disaster and after seeing her presentation I also had the same opinion as her --- there are a lot of things that we can learn from the Japanese people. She told us that when that disaster took place, the water system in her neighbourhood got damaged and only one house had water in it. The owner of the house put up a banner outside his/her house saying --- "I have water in my house." People went to that house, made a queue and systematically took water without causing any riot.
On the 28th January, we went back to Tokyo. In Tokyo we visited the Edo Tokyo Museum and observed Japanese tradition, culture and how Japan was in its early period. We also visited the Tokyo Gas Company and I was amazed to learn how much the Japanese people thought about preserving the nature. They always focus on making eco-friendly things. The rooftop garden was amazing. The floor was made of bamboo and when we asked why bamboo was chosen for such a huge building, they told us that they always tried to use eco-friendly materials. But if they wanted to use wood, a large amount of trees would be needed. As we all know, trees grow slowly. But bamboo on the other hand grows very fast. Japanese bamboo grows 1.2 meter each day! So they decided that bamboo definitely was the better option and they designed the whole building with bamboo as the main ingredient.
We also visited the Honjo Safety Learning Centre and we experienced fake earthquake simulations so that we could learn what to do when earthquake occurred. We were taught the use of fire extinguishers and extinguished fake fire. After that we went through a drill to escape a building that was on fire. We also learned the use of AED. I think this type of information can come real handy at times.
Many people were still suffering from "Post Traumatic Disorders" and many people were still living in temporary houses, unable to go back to their own homes.
I believe this project has stayed true to its name that is Kizuna or Bond because people of so many different countries have stayed together and formed a very sweet bond that I hope will remain intact for the rest of eternity.
The writer is a student of BUET and can be reached at [email protected]