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Two years ago from now, I was living in Kobe Japan, this beautiful city in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan. Having been in the city for only a month then, I was still excited, getting used to bowing my head to greet everyone, exploring everywhere, having people be extremely nice and courteous to me and picking up some culture. I was quite happy 😀
People in Kobe were very fashionable and seemed to love the good life. In every corner there was a dessert place and it was packed full with people so you almost always had to wait in line on the weekends. People loved to have a good time and relax with friends in restaurants and such. Kobe was filled with classy working class people and was a middle sized city- so with all the amenities you need but not too crazy. It was around the mountains, very sunny and very organized and beautiful. It was my first time living in a very developed metropolis where English was not the lingua franca and the change was interesting.
I had started getting used to the little peculiarities- like almost everyone on the train having on face masks, to the man-purses all the stylish men seemed to have, to having to take off your shoes everywhere including the mall change rooms.
On the weekends I visited the historic parts of town nearby. It was interesting having a few people notice me or want to take a picture with me because I was black but I was cool with it,and it reminded me of how Caucasians are treated in Nigeria sometimes.
The day of the earthquake I assumed I was drowsy which was why the building I was in seemed to be shaking. Then I realized I wasn’t and that it was truly shaking. Then I ran out and went back in when I was told it was actually safer to be in the building during an earthquake not outside.
To be honest I was excited to have experienced an earthquake until I realized it was not just a small earthquake, but was serious, and a tsunami and possible nuclear disaster were on the way as well. I was freaking out, but it seemed everyone around me was stoic- a characteristic of the Japanese people I got to see firsthand. I could see there was less food in the grocery stores- meaning people were stocking up incase things got worse- but you could hardly tell it on people’s faces, they seemed like nothing had happened which made me wonder if I was going crazy by freaking out or they were the ones who needed to wake up lol.
Long story short, when I left Japan I had never been more grateful to be alive, and had never been more in love with all the people close to me. I suddenly felt like everything else was just things and that the relationships we have with our loved ones and being able to to be alive no matter whatever struggle we are facing is the most precious gift.
I also was reminded that we are all alone- (not in a sad way but in a meaningful way)- we all have unique purposes and if you were born alone and die alone, then why be afraid to live out your destiny while you still have life? Why let circumstances or others tell you who to be?
Two years later, I remember and am grateful to be alive. It was a life changing experience and I hope I don’t throw the lessons away anytime soon.
I want to go back to Japan again one day although I don’t know how soon I will be able to. Having left right before the celebrated Sakura season when the cherry blossom buds were just appearing, I had that sense of leaving prematurely. I hadn’t seen all I wanted to see because Tokyo was a no-go zone at that time due to the damage from the earthquake. One day, hopefully, I will go back!
I share a few memories of Japan below in pictures.