My house and workplace were swept away by the 2011 tsunami. Subsequently, my family was living in a one-room apartment when we learned about this mileage donation project from information in the newspaper. At the time, we were simply trying to survive each day. I applied for the chance to receive miles based on the desire to get away from the disaster-hit region and visit somewhere warm. When we were informed that we would be receiving miles, my family all shared the joy of this good news and would think about where we would go. At the same time, however, some part of me also wondered whether we should be the only ones to enjoy this good fortune.
We did not survive that terrible time after the earthquake-tsunami simply through the efforts of our family alone. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, a friend came to check up on us, carrying a huge backpack and transferring from one long-distance bus to another from Tokyo. Afterwards, a package would arrive for us practically every week at our temporary shelter, delivered by courier service and containing letters, clothing, food, and daily supplies. Personally, I had never devoted myself to another person to such an extent. Although I would feel humble for such generosity and would say that we would not be able to return such a large favor, I wanted to find a way to do something in return, someday.
It was then that I came to a sudden realization. I would not make a trip away from the Tohoku region. Instead, I would have everyone come here.
I discussed my idea with my family, who willingly consented to my proposal. Putting my plan into action, I booked a stay at an onsen hotel in Matsushima that I found on the JAL website and asked my friends to stay with me. We toured the disaster-hit area by car, enjoyed the local fish at our lodgings, soaked in the onsen hot spring waters, and talked late into the night. During our trip, I learned for the first time that in the week after the earthquake-tsunami, when no contact could be made, my friends would be in tears as they searched for my name in the obituaries and lists of the deceased that were printed in the newspapers.
In touring the disaster-hit area, we were able to witness the large fishing vessels that had been swept ashore, the remains of buildings with only the charred frameworks left intact, the school buildings with broken windows left unrepaired, and the areas of reclaimed land that were slowly returning to the sea due to the water that was failing to recede. My love of travel exceeds that of the average person, but I have not stepped one foot out of the Tohoku region since the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster. Even so, I hope to communicate to other people all of the things I have seen and experienced.
Thank you to everyone who made this opportunity possible.
(Miyagi Prefecture / Age:50s / Gender:Female)