Second home

Posted by on Mar 17, 2011 in Blog, Life, News & Events, Philanthropy, Travel | One Comment

My family considers Japan our second home.

We named our son Akira after a close friend we made while staying there a while back. We’ve visited many times and try and get back there as often as possible.

Akira studies Japanese for 80 minutes every day at school, in the hope that he forms a similar connection to a country his parents love. We perhaps went overboard as he has wanted to live there instead of Australia since the age of 5.

Akira’s best friend at school is Japanese, along with many other friends at his international school. He not only learns the language every day but delves deeply into the culture, environment, systems, flora, fauna, landscape, food and way of life in his ‘favourite place in the world’. Dan and I fight over who gets to help Akira with his Japanese homework to test our own flimsy grip on the language.

My first photographic exhibition was images from Japan and my hard drive is clogged with thousands of others from this wonderful country. The numerous artworks on our walls at home are a testament to our Japanophilic obsession.

My travel file is filled with details of our next planned journey to Japan, strangely enough to the north-east of the main island. Our close friend Noriko was due to travel back to her homeland last week but instead we sat with her at their table watching horror upon horror unfold.

I was about to sit down to a Chinese dinner with family when I first noticed the newsflash about the quake and tsunami. I honestly felt sick to the stomach and sat with my eyes glued to the corner TV instead of downing my roast duck.

Things of course haven’t improved much since then in terms of feeling any better about Japan’s devastation. I turn to the news frequently for updates but I’m a sensitive person and don’t last long when the human face of the tragedy is shown.

These are the most extraordinary people who have welcomed me into their country warmly and graciously over and over again.

One man drove his car 200km to return a bag I stupidly left on a bus and then apologised to me and gave me a gift. A waitress in a country town offered Dan and I a place to stay at her grandmothers house when we were cycling around the country. A bus load of elderly Japanese women bought Dan and I drinks after we cycled to the top of a particularly steep hill. Another lady drove around to every hostel in Nara throughout the night until she found the one we were staying at to return Dan’s jacket he had left at her restaurant.

These are extraordinary people. They are warm, gracious and welcoming. They are humble and stoic. They are also hilarious, fun and optimistic. They’re intelligent, talented and courageous. Many of them are our friends. All of them are our brothers and sisters. And I can’t begin to express how upset I am.

The world seems a little too fragile at the moment, doesn’t it? But we all have to remain positive, strong and kind-hearted. Please, do what you can to help. Trust me, the Japanese would give all they had if the situation was reversed.

x Andy

Girl in the Window

1 Comment

  1. Dan Solo
    March 17, 2011

    Amazing country, amazing people, amazing culture.
    The devastation caused by the quake, tsunami and now nuclear threat is horrendous.
    Thought are with Japan and it’s wonderful people!


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