Tokyo and Yokohama During the 3/11 Disaster

I visited Tokyo and Yokohama from the March 23 to March 27, 2011 when my mother came to visit me in Japan during the spring of 2011. This is a continuation of our trip that started in Osaka on March 10, 2011, one day before the biggest disaster to hit Japan in recent memory occurred. After visiting the Kansai region, we went to Okinawa and then flew back to Fukuoka, stopping at Nagasaki for a day before spending a couple of days in Hiroshima. Afterwards we took a night bus (never again) to Tokyo on March 23, 2011.

At this time, it was my first time back in Tokyo after I had left in 2006 when I was as an exchange student at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

Because the Tokyo area was moderately affected by the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster (the 3/11 disaster), many foreigners living in Tokyo at the time were hysterically leaving for home via their embassies or for "safer" areas like the Kansai area or even places like Hong Kong because paranoia over radiation concerns. Instead because we had already booked and planned everything, we decided that it was safe to visit and it was indeed safe during our time there. In addition, there were less crowds!

The only odd thing that happened was that due to all the nuclear reactors being in shutdown mode as a precautionary measure, there were fears of a power shortage so in order to conserve energy, the train operators decided not to turn on any of the lights inside the trains during the overground sections. It felt weird to be riding the JR Yamanote Line in the dark with only sunlight coming through the windows.

The Nakamise-dori in front of the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.


Kansai Trip During the 2011 3/11 Disaster

More than two years have passed since the devastating earthquake and tsunami disaster (3/11 Disaster) that hit the Tohoku area in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011 and during that time, I was an international student studying in graduate school in Hiroshima on the opposite side of where the disaster hit in Japan. While going through my files, I discovered some photos I had not yet posted and those were the ones taken while I was traveling in the Kansai region during that time.

In the beginning of 2011, my mom made travel plans to visit me during the Japanese university academic calendar spring vacation (from February to the end of March) and we started off by visiting the Kansai (Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto) region.

So what was it like to be in Japan during the 3/11 Disaster in the Kansai region in western Japan? Surprisingly normal.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社) that we visited in Kyoto on March 12, 2011.


Road Trip to Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県)

In the summer of 2012 on August 15, my friend from Jamaica and I were discussing about places to do a one day road trip since he had just acquired a car and Japanese driver's license. (I had a Japanese driver's license but no car)

Originally we wanted to drive across the Seto Ohashi Bridge (瀬戸大橋) from Okayama (岡山) to the island of Shikoku (四国) but we wanted to see the scenery of the Inland Sea from the bridge and since the weather was not cooperating with us on the day we wanted to go (it was cloudy), we choose to instead drive to neighbouring Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県) from where we lived in Higashi-Hiroshima (東広島) in Hiroshima Prefecture (広島県).

It was hard to find tourist attractions worth visiting in Yamaguchi Prefecture, but after looking at some travel magazines at the local Tsutaya, a book and video rental store, we decided to visit Hagi city (萩) and then Yamaguchi city (山口市).

Yamaguchi city, the capital of Yamaguchi Prefecture, also known as "Kyoto of the West" in the tourism propaganda.