This is curenty a relatively bold thing to say.
As tempus is want to fugit it is likely this post will lose both its impact and meaning very quickly.
Japan has suffered its biggest earthquake ever. It triggered a huge Tsunami that wrecked even more damage, death and destruction.
Currently over 10,000 are dead and further 10,000 are missing.
It is a horrible tragedy.
And on top of this there has been an accident at a nuclear facility north of Tokyo that has pumped radioactive Iodine into the environment.
So why on earth would I still be going to Japan on vacation?
1) Bloody mindedness
Let me be honest. I am intolerably bloody minded about most things.
When I have decided on something it is very difficult to get me to change my mind.
I planned my vacation last year and booked it after renewing my passport in February.
This is something that I had set my mind on and nothing was going to stand in my way.
[Even my new boss!]
When the quake and tsunami hit, it did give me pause for thought, I am human after all, and my vacation plans actually fell from my mind.
My initial concern was more for the people who were suffering than any vacation plans.
When asked about my vacation I said simply, “I will see how things go”.
I then said, “I am bloody well going, as long as my flights are not cancelled or the British government tells me it is totally stupid.” [more on this later]
I now say, “I am going, but as I had planned, I am going to Kansai within 2 days of my arrival, which is about the distance Paris is from Amsterdam, and far away from the area affected by privations.” [I really said this… my bloody mindedness had fully returned]
2) The press are idiots!
I have, through watching the coverage of the disaster, determined that humanity is ultimately doomed.
Not because of the frightening and horrific power of nature that was in effect, but because the press has showed such ridiculous stupidity and inanity that I cannot believe mankind will actually survive to the next millennia.
The coverage at first was exactly as you would expect.
Wide angle shots of the tsunami wiping entire communities off the map.
Awed presenters looking aghast at video feeds.
Then came the parade of pundits. And this is where the stupidity started.
“Could this happen here?” was uttered by more than one of these morons.
Always trying to come up with a local angle for a disaster happening to real people half the world away.
Then the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor facility started having issues due to loss of coolant.
This is when the media idiocy reached critical mass.
Suddenly Ann Coulter was an expert in the medical affects radiological isotopes, a nightclub in Shibuya was one of Japan’s “dangerous” nuclear reactors, and the word “Chernobyl” was bandied by the media, left-leaning, right-leaning and centre.
Then there were food shortages and power cuts in Tokyo.
I will not even get started with how the press has handled this.
And so whatever the press tells me I rightfully, and disdainfully, ignore.
Instead I am trusting certain blogs such as;
blogs written by expats actually in Japan rather than clueless talking-heads in studios in New York or London.
And all the time the idiot media were saying “background radiation in Tokyo has doubled” did not change the fact that it is still less than in Denver.
3) Governments always try and save face
As mentioned earlier, my second instinct was to only abandon my vacation if the British government told me to.
They then told people to not go to the Tokyo region.
However, this had nothing to do with the disaster itself. It had to do with 2 things.
The first is that the British government did not want to inconvenience travellers as public transport and power supplies were unreliable.
The second is that France had offered flights to its citizens out of the country and the FCO were being asked why they were not doing the same. [About 1/4 of French expats fled.]
They did it because the French did it. And the USA also soon followed suit.
4) I am not in Tokyo for long
I had already planned my vacation before the quake and tsunami.
And the big draw was not Tokyo, even though I love it to bits, as I have visited multiple times before, but Osaka, which I have not yet visited.
My plan was, and still is, to arrive in Tokyo, stay 2 nights to acclimate to the time-zone, and then go to Osaka.
I had booked my hotel in Shibuya, but was still in the process of choosing the one in Osaka.
My plan was to stay in Osaka as a base and travel around the Kansai region, perhaps stay in Kobe, then stop off in Kyoto for a night or two before returning to Tokyo for the last week before flying out.
Based on how Tokyo is already returning to some form of normalcy I more than expect it to be fine for the first week of May.
5) What is appropriate?
This is the only thing that concerned me.
“Is it appropriate to go on vacation to Japan right now?”
This is a tough one as there is no arbiter of appropriateness.
Who decides when it is still too soon and when it becomes appropriate to vacation in Japan?
Can you give me their email?
Points to consider;
- I am not in Tokyo long
- Things are not as bad in Tokyo as the press says
- I am not going there because of the disaster
- I planned this vacation prior to the disaster
- The Japanese economy needs to rebuild itself
- I love Japan
I have decided that for me it is appropriate to still go to Japan on a pre-planned vacation a scant six weeks after the disaster.
To me this is not too soon.
Others may disagree, but that is their personal opinion.
[I would probably have a different mindset if I was meant to fly out today..]
6) Can I help out?
Let me be honest again, it did pass my mind that I could help out. But this is nothing but senseless egoism.
I can’t speak Japanese to any level other than tourist.
I am not in the medical profession.
I am not in the construction profession.
I am not affiliated with any aid agency.
The only thing I can do, other than donate here, is contribute my tourist yen.
I have had different reactions from friends and family about my decision to still go.
From, “You would find a way to go regardless” to “I do not think it is appropriate for you to go there on vacation at this time.”.
However, I will finish with a transcript of a genuine conversation I had with a friend of mine, Greg, a DJ, who is a pretty together guy.
Greg comes over and sits next to me while another DJ has a set
Greg: Are you still going to Japan?
Me: Yeah. The radiation risk is over-hyped and things are not as bad in Tokyo as they say.
Greg: No way! [With a look of shock]
Me: What? [Frowns] [I am fully expecting a “you will glow in the dark comment”]
Greg: Dude! You will miss Queens day!
This is true. This is the first time that I have missed it in 13 years.