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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

Disaster Tourism

Disaster Tourism

I was there, standing on the Imaizumi Bridge on highway 19 pondering whether or not I should drive two hours to the coast of Kesennuma.    Maybe I could've  worn  a ' pray for Japan' T-shirt, or delivered a box of food or helped out with the relief effort over there.    I could've done those things, but sometimes I wonder how much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing, like when world renowned television evangelist Billy Graham flew several tons of food to some of the hardest hit tsunami ravaged areas.    I clearly remember reports coming out that most of the food items were rejected or totally unused or thrown out.   Corn flakes and pop tarts weren't exactly a hit with the victims.   I think it's because Japanese tend to be a self contained people, only needing what is absolutely essential for life and nothing more.   I thought about that.   Sometimes too much charity from outside sources  can be downright embarrassing, especially when local government isn't doing enough for its own people.   

("Even in the aftermath of destruction, this part of Japan is still impeccably beautiful")

We know why Billy Graham went to Japan to deliver food.   I'm sure that wasn't his only motive.     He could've donated that food to the poor and jobless back in America, not fly half way around the world to feed a people who clearly reject what he really represents in the name of charity because of divine retribution.   Where were his priorities?   There's plenty of food, water, and blankets in Japan.    This is not a poor country.   At that moment I knew what I had to do.....   I moved on.     

Traditionally, Japanese communities take care of their own in times of crisis.    Unless you've been poor or in dire need and left for dead by your own government,  you would never understand what it feels like when you've been let down by them, and then having to depend on strangers from  foreign lands for very basic things.   There's a sense of pride and dignity that's lost somewhere when that happens.    There's a sense of shame for some people  when  accepting the charity of strangers.   I had no business there, especially for sightseeing the disastrous ruins of one of the worst catastrophes ever to hit Japan.   Of course the locals express gratitude, like any person would, but with shame and humility.  

What the Japanese need more now than anything is for you to donate to their economy by spending your money buying locally grown produce and delicious  nihonshu.    There is no shortage of locally grown food or rice or medical supplies here.   If you really want to make a difference then that would be the best form of charity for them.   Trust me.  


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