3.11 is a day that I want to forget. After that terrible day, I was always thinking of everything in a negative light, living each day without being able to sort out my feelings. It was during this difficult time that I was informed that I would receive miles from the JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) program. My first reaction was surprise; I had applied to the program but did not think that I would really receive any miles. After the surprise, I felt the joy of discovering that I still had a little luck left in me.
After learning of the good news, I would regularly think about the Japanese map, something that normally would never be on my mind, and picture all of the Japanese prefectures from Hokkaido to Okinawa. It was strange, even to me, that I would change my way of thinking at that point in time. To change my mindset even more, I narrowed down my options to southern Japan. My final decision was a trip to Ishigaki island in Okinawa.
I took my flight to Okinawa from Haneda Airport in Tokyo. From the Hotel Nikko in Ishigaki, I watched the Rakuten Eagles baseball team win the Japan championship. Toasting their victory, I felt my spirits lift even higher. But then, when I was touring Kohama island, I saw the outboard motor of a small fishing boat being pulled from the reef. The vessel had originated from Yoriisohama, a fishing village situated in Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture, and drifted an incredible 2,800 km journey over one year and ten months. Seeing this scene brought back painful memories of the earthquake and tsunami, memories that I had tried to forget. For a moment, I was disheartened that this reminder of the earthquake-tsunami disaster had traveled with me, despite my visit to Japan's southern tropical islands and my efforts to make these painful memories fade away.
But the tropical southern islands have a unique setting and a sense of getting away from it all. Thanks to the different scenery, different winds, and different general atmosphere, I did not slip into negativity. Instead, I remembered that I would take a boat to go fishing from Yoriisohama, with images of the local beach and shore coming to mind. I decided to believe that this positive outlook was a direct result of my trip. I would just envision the world map and try to trace back the route that the fishing boat had taken on its long journey. It was exciting to imagine the incredible endurance of this boat in crossing the Pacific, drifting south from Canada or Alaska to the seas of Japan, and then finally reaching Okinawa. At the same time, the thought of this small boat's arduous journey gave me the encouragement to believe that I still had a long way to go in my own journey of life.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed their miles and everyone who was involved in planning this project. Thanks to this wonderful trip, I will continue my road forward while being sure to remember the feelings of gratitude, inspiration, and appreciation.
Photo: Fishing boat Seifuku Maru / Vessel number: MG3-37998
(Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture / Age:60s / Gender:Male)