Arrival!!!!!

I feel terrible in updating you all so late, but guess what!?! I finally arrived!!!! And to be honest, now that I’ve arrived, I’ve been meeting so many friends and rushing around the place that I’m more tired now than when I was walking ๐Ÿ˜›

So, I’ve officially arrived in Sendai. and I had a group of 6 friends that I met some 6 months ago, and news reporter, now a good friend of mine, that walked into Sendai Train station with me – my final destination.

ImageMy entourage – some of my wonderful support bringing me safely into Sendai and guiding me to the train station. It was wonderful not needing to check my map, and letting the crew navigate me as I walked ๐Ÿ˜›

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Together we walked the final 8kms of my journey, and gradually nudged closer and closer to our destination. I was interviewed while we walked and enjoyed having so much company after a very solitary last few weeks.

I don’t really know what to say, because the whole day really passed with a blur. I’m still in disbelief that my adventure is over, because in reality, my adventure is continuing still everyday, having the conversations I have, being touched by the people I meet, and just enjoying all of the wonderful opportunities that keep coming my way.

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The arrival – I sprinted about 100m towards the finish line, but slowed down to turtle pace before reaching the station, recognising that all of that effort has now brought me to my destination. I felt a little surreal arriving at the station, because I very well know my adventure isn’t over. If anything, I’m just halfway through. The sign behind me says: “Welcome to Sendai’s Tanabata Matsuri”.

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Changing the signs on my bags from “Walking from Tokyo to Sendai” to “Walked from Tokyo to Sendai”.

I had such a massive smile on my face as I arrived. I was elated. I could stop walking! (Little did I know that within a days I’d be missing the adventure and excitement of walking in one direction, no plans, and just seeing where the road takes you).

And indeed, with that announcement said, I’m still here in Sendai, wandering, searching for interesting information, studying and chatting to people, hearing their stories, and doing my best to absorb it all in a second language! But heck it’s been bloody good fun! And I’ve made it into a few newspapers across the country ^^

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Asahi Newspaper – Published on the 7th of August –ย http://www.asahi.com/area/miyagi/articles/TKY201308060448.html

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Aย photo of the article – Thanks for letting me know Tomomi, and thanks for writing the article Chihiro-san!ย 

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A rough translation: At around 1pm on the 7th, a 22 year old from UTS Australia named Aaron Morellini with goals of walking from Tokyo and arriving for the Tanabata festival arrived! YAY!!!!
Together with 7 others from the Kizuna project, an accumulation of students from Miyagi University, etc, he walked the final 8km.
In front of a sign we together made in March of this year, Aaron said “I’m so glad that I can be with everyone again”.
Aaron left Tokyo on the 16th of last month, walking through Ibaraki and Fukushima, talking with people about the tsunami of 2011 and walked 450km in 3 weeks. 4 days earlier, Aaron experienced his first earthquake, 4 on the richter scale. After that he began to understand what the Japanese feel living here.
After he goes back to Australia, he plans to translate the conversations about the tsunami he has had and wants to communicate it to the people of Aus.

Yomiuri Newspaper – 7th of August
–ย http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/kyoiku/news/20130807-OYT8T00751.htm

Aย few sentences are about my journey:

ใ€€ไธ€ๆ–นใ€ใ“ใฎๆ—ฅใฎใŸใ‚ใซๆฅๆ—ฅใ—ใŸใจใ„ใ†ใ‚ทใƒ‰ใƒ‹ใƒผๅทฅ็ง‘ๅคงๅญฆใฎใ‚ขใƒผใƒญใƒณใƒปใƒขใƒฌใƒชใƒผใƒ‹ใ•ใ‚“๏ผˆ๏ผ’๏ผ’๏ผ‰ใฏใ€ๆฑไบฌใ‹ใ‚‰๏ผ“้€ฑ้–“ใ‹ใ‘ใ€็ฆๅณถใชใฉใ‚’็ตŒใฆใ€ๅพ’ๆญฉใงไป™ๅฐใซๆฅใŸใ€‚
ใ€€ใ€Œๆญฉใ„ใฆ่ขซ็ฝๅœฐใ‚’่ฆ‹ใ‚‹ใ“ใจใงใ€่ขซ็ฝ่€…ใŒ่‹ฆใ—ใ‚“ใงใ„ใ‚‹ใ“ใจใŒๅฐ‘ใ—ใงใ‚‚ๅˆ†ใ‹ใฃใŸๆฐ—ใŒใ—ใŸใ€ใจ่ฉฑใ—ใ€ๅธฐๅ›ฝๅพŒใ€ๅคงๅญฆใฎใ‚ฏใƒฉใƒ–ๆดปๅ‹•ใ‚„ๆŽˆๆฅญใง่ขซ็ฝๅœฐใฎ็พ็Šถใ‚’ไผใˆใŸใ„ใจ่ชžใฃใŸใ€‚

One person, with aims of the beginning of the festival, Aaron Morellini, 22,over 3 weeks walked from Tokyo, through places such as Fukushima.
“By walking through the affected areas, I’ve began to slightly understand the suffering the people are going through” he said, and after going back to Australia, he is going to communicate his learnings of Japan’s current situation to Australians at his university, etc.

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Ibaraki Newspaper – Around the 5th of August

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“I’ve just met a gentleman from overseas, can he stay with us?”
All of a sudden in the evening, I received a phone call from my son who is studying at TAFE. We had a conversation about how there was a foreigner walking across the from of his workplace.
“Can he speak Japanese?” “What would be good for dinner?” I had a lot of insecurities about his coming.
In Japanese: “Good evening, my name is Aaron. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Carrying a large bag a big smile, as soon as he greeted me, my anxieties disappeared. “Please, help yourself to a shower. Please relax and make yourself at home.” ย was able to speak with him quite normally.
Aaron is a university student in Australia, currently on his winter vacation. He is currently walking from Tokyo to Sendai for her Tanabata festival, sleeping in his tent as he travels. He wants to personally see the affects of the tsunami and will travel up to Iwate to volunteer and help with the tsunami recovery.
Through a variety of conversations, our world just became a lot larger. Thank you Aaron. Do you think he’ll be able to arrive for Tanabata?

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Day 15 – 240km out from Tokyo

Hisashiburi!!! That’s the first thing I’ll say!!! It’s been ages!!!

I’ve rested over the last couple of days, after finding a gentleman in his 40s who is working away from his family rebuilding the destroyed sea wall that once was to protect Japan from the tsunami. The tsunami was so string that it completely knocked the wall over and pushed the concrete pieces hundreds of metres off the shore, tearing up roads, train trucks, etc. He took me onto the site, showed me around, and then drove me up and down the coast showing me the damage from the tsunami. I’ve spent 2 nights with him, Ryousuke-San, and he lives with his boss, Kimi-San, as the two of them work towards completely rebuilding this small 500m segment of the sea wall, over the next two years, that will stretch hundreds of kilometres up the coast.

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Ryousuke-San and Kimi-San – hours if good conversation ๐Ÿ™‚ many fond memories.

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Ryousuke-San giving me a tour of the machinery and processes, etc.

A little more on what Ryousuke-San is doing – he and Kimi-San are in the process of making, transporting and placing 1200 8tonne concrete blocks in the ocean to weaken the strength of any future tsunamis that might strike the area. It’s worth noting that this effort will only weaken the strength of the tsunami, but will not stop it completely. If another of a similar size does come, it will still overflow over the wall and to a large extent prevent the water from washing back out to sea. Just my observation. It’s a lot if work, and thousands of tonnes if concrete for this small 500m stretch, when maybe decking out the area with mangroves could be just as effective for tsunami weakening, which I know has been proven in India.

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The moulds for the bouhate, some 1200 need to be made for this small stretch of coast.

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About 600 have been made so far, and all of these will be dumped out a couple of metres of the coast to weaken any future tsunamis. This is being built along the coast from Chiba to Iwate.

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The previous sea wall was smashed into pieces and the concrete aided the wave in knocking down houses as it moved.

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Me on a sea wall in Ibaraki, before reaching Fukushima – this wall was effective as the wave her was only a few metres high

Something I have noticed is that the Japanese are working really really hard to try and weaken nature, to try to stop anything that might be on it’s way, when in the past, it was all about letting go and rebuilding.

But the new extra element, the radiation, is one factor many have completely left the area as a result of.

Anyway, serendipity is certainly wonderful, that I could have met them both and that they were enthusiastic enough to drive me around a large number of kilometres to show me the sights.

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The coast of Fukushima

Today I went to a festival called Somanomaoi (็›ธ้ฆฌ้‡Ž้ฆฌ่ฟฝ), a festival where locals trained on horses, etc, get dressed up in traditional samurai armour, carry a flag with their family symbol on it, and walk the streets on horse back, and have races, etc.

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It was a really cool experience, especially seeing the samurai spirit within the Japanese, and that it’s still there – This burning desire for perfection and dedication to what it is they choose – especially seen in their armour, their horse riding ability, and the amount of time individuals spend training, etc.

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The detail in the armour and the decorations on the horses were really quite exquisite. It’s obvious that hundreds of hours have gone into making all of the little elements to make it just like the old days.

However, having taken yesterday off as well to see this special and rare festival, I now only have 8 days to travel 200km, which is certainly possible, but it’ll be tough. I won’t overdo it, but I won’t give up. ใŒใ‚“ใฐใฃใบ! As the locals say ๐Ÿ™‚ Ganbatte means Do your best, but the locals, in their dialect say Ganbappe, which is everywhere you go,

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from stickers on cars and windows,

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to graffiti on walls and tsunami destroyed homes.

Keep fighting Japan! Rise up and take the power back!

You can call me what you like, but I went in as close to the nuclear reactors as I legally could without breaching the radiation boundary to observe life here. I actually had a rather interesting experience. I was able to ask around and learn that no Japanese trust the government, or their information, but they live completely normal lives just outside of the exclusion zone. People in Fukushima won’t eat the food that is grown here, nor will they drink the tap water, but they’ll live here. They’ll have festivals, stay outside, be in the rain, it’s as though no nuclear reactor exists at all. After two years, they’ve just put it to the back of their minds. Again, it’s about facing this invisible enemy that might or might not be there, they just don’t know, so it becomes easier to ignore it and live optimistically.

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Daily recordings of the radiation levels are put up to show people in the shopping malls how things are looking…

And it makes sense that they choose to ignore it though. The people in Fukushima will see the reactors on the news with minor updates most days of the week (for the past 2.5 years), to hear of more issues occurring, or “progress”, etc. it won’t leave them alone. And when they finally meet their friends or talk to someone new, the first question is: “how are you? Is the reactor ok?” The people have really had enough. And they won’t be left alone for years to come it would seem. I don’t imagine them fixing this nuclear reactor or closing down the others completely any time soon.

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Signs of “decontaminating the area” of radiation are also extremely common.

I’ve now travelled up and down the coast below Fukushima a number of times and have checked out the damage. There’s a lot. It’s all been cleared away, but there’s a large number of foundations growing weeds left behind and abandoned homes. I’ve had a couple of interviews with some interesting people on the coast, heard the stories and experiences, and seen photos of before and after of a variety of areas.

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The first day in Fukushima, immediately saw damage…

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Deserted homes – for fear of another tsunami while the previous sea wall is still destroyed, or fear of impact by the radiation.

One woman in particular, Haru, told me her story about her experience of the tsunami. She, her partner and 2 children are the only family remaining in an area that once held several hundred homes. Some 30 homes remain, abandoned, while her home was on stilts and fortunately suffered little damage from the tsunami. They live on a slight hill and very close to the sea wall (้˜ฒๆณขๅ ค bouhate) but have now received an eviction notice because the local council wants to expand the size of the sea wall for added protection to the other homes. Despite them building their own home, and even extending it since the tsunami, they now need to move within the next 8 months.

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Other foundations have sunflowers planted to lift away the dark energy and leave behind something beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚

What else to chat about I wonder? Hmm… Japan’s financial situation. Not looking good. Recently reading that most of the funds raised for Japan during the tsunami didn’t actually go to helping the people (whether that is reliable or not), it’s hard to move past the fact that the government is providing temporary accommodation for the hundreds of thousands of people that lived within the 20km evacuation zone, I’ve also heard they are also paying the temporary accommodations or those who lost their homes along the cost to the tsunami, not to mention the costs for decontamination around Fukushima, and rebuilding the lost infrastructure and thickening the sea walls. And I’ve seen, these sea walls are a huge job. And to think that Japan is thinking of holding the Paralympics next year, while facing an aging society that’s running out if jobs, with homeless on the rise and social stress increasing under the heightened strain, where is Japan getting the money to do all of this? The situation in Japan is getting really interesting. It seems just a matter of time before it cracks.

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Beware of Tsunami – 4m above sea level
These signs were everywhere in Ibaraki but quite scarce out here in Fukushima (lower population).

This is just some of what I’ve learnt over the week, but every step has been interesting.

The weather has changed dramatically, when I last spoke it was hot and humid. Now that I’ve entered Fukushima Prefecture, I’m no longer in Summer but am in Tsuyu, the period of heavy rain just before Summer. A lot of people told me not to walk in the rain while I’m in Fukushima, but now it can’t be helped, and I’m possibly far enough away from the reactor to not be at threat, though that depends on your sources. I’ll keep pressing on though. Me not achieving my goal of reaching Sendai by the 6th will do more damage to my spirit than the rain, so I’ll press on.

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But the rain certainly won’t dampen my spirits ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m having too much fun!!!! It will however decrease the number of photos I take while outside ๐Ÿ˜›
At the 199.1km mark from Tokyo.

I heard some wonderful news a few days ago!!!! Depapepe, an incredible guitar duo, are actually going to be performing in Sendai on the 7th of August!!!! A day after I arrive in Sendai!!!! Fate? I think so ๐Ÿ™‚ they’ll be holding a free concert that I’ll definitely be attending ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for telling me Moeko ๐Ÿ˜€

My feet have rested and are doing quite well ๐Ÿ˜€ so, to date, I’ve run at least 150km, and that was barefoot, and the rest with shoes and walking ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve bought a new pair of shoes a few days ago, and shaped them to fit, but I’ve developed some blisters after not really wearing shoes for the last few weeks.

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Beard update – looking good. Longest beard to date, some 4 months growth, and getting plenty of compliments ๐Ÿ˜› taken just outside if Oarai in Ibaraki, just before I reached the east coast.

Photo time ๐Ÿ˜€ I obviously have countless incredible memories ๐Ÿ™‚ but here’s some of the beautiful people I’ve met over the last week ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 6

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Takeshi-San!!!! Drove past me one day, told me to stay over but he lived 40km away – so I ran to his house over the next 2 days and met him ๐Ÿ™‚ amazing conversations, eating traditional Japanese food ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you for the precious memories and conversations ๐Ÿ™‚

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Takuya-San!!! Thanks for being with me as I finally made it to the coast!!!!

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I am a bit of a popular item here in Japan, the beard, the style, the grace, the fashion!

Day 7

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Kajima-San(left) and Satomi-San (right) – a wonderful conversation as the sun set, talking about tsunami experiences, the wars of days gone and life how it used to be.
I’ll hopefully see you in Australia soon Satomi ๐Ÿ™‚

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The famous Sunflower ferry that travels from Ibaraki to Hokkaido

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The beautiful sunset that day ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 8

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Nature showing off it’s intricacy on the beach ๐Ÿ˜›

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Thanks for the Dango Kazue-San ๐Ÿ˜€

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Katsumi-San – we lit my first fireworks on the beach that night and cheered!!! I’m almost at Sendai ๐Ÿ˜€ my dream is becoming a reality!

Day 9

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Beach Festival in Hitachi-city ๐Ÿ™‚

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Yumi-San, Moto-San, thank you both so sooooooo much for the incredible conversations, and for the letting me stay with you both.

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Some cheers and encouragement from the locals ๐Ÿ˜€

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Momoko-San, it was a pleasure to meet you, and thank you so much for introducing me to your beautiful grandparents ๐Ÿ™‚ they are amazing people, extremely caring, and just what I needed ๐Ÿ™‚

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You too Asami!!!! It was a pleasure to meet you ๐Ÿ™‚

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And Mum, I keep seeing these beautiful Lilies and am thinking of you every step of the way ๐Ÿ™‚

Time for me to go guys!!!! The road is waiting for my company ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m really glad to have some a welcoming companion ๐Ÿ™‚

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Day 5 – ็Ÿณๅฒกๅธ‚ – 100km out of Tokyo

Hello my beautiful friends and family!!!!

I actually need to get going and continue running, but I really thought it would be best of me to send out a small post to say that I’m progressing!!!!!!

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It’s been quite hot here recently, and I’m getting sunburnt, but I’ve mostly been running during the early mornings or late evenings to avoid the heat ๐Ÿ™‚ tenting it most nights, but last night was a lovely exception ๐Ÿ™‚

This photo was from 3 days ago ๐Ÿ˜› I’m actually now 100kms out of Tokyo ๐Ÿ™‚ Wow right? I’m surprised… I didn’t think I could do it. And in actuality, I walked about 10km, and have run the other 90km barefoot ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m proud of my feet who are surprisingly handling the feat (get it???) surprisingly well ๐Ÿ™‚ there’s been a couple of moments where it’s been impossible to keep running without shoes because my feet just become too sensitive, but they’re getting used to it!!!!

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This is actually an incredibly special photo to me, as I took it when I finally had the realisation that I was completing my dream!!! This was on the morning of day 3. I was some 50km out from Tokyo, I had signs on my back and front saying “walking to Sendai” or ไป™ๅฐใพใงๆญฉใไธญ, and the cars kept beeping, showing their support, smiling, yelling “Ganbatte Kudasai!!!” Or do your best!!! I really can’t describe how awesome it felt ๐Ÿ™‚ but wow. This is one of my first big dreams I’ve ever chased, and it’s a pleasure to be challenging myself with it and succeeding!!!!

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After a 20km barefoot run with my pack, a wonderful breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚ vegetable cereal with a side of vegetables and soy milk ๐Ÿ˜›

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And yes, I’m ate it with Chopsticks ๐Ÿ˜› I’m in Japan right?

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These are the signs on my back and front while I run ๐Ÿ™‚ just texta on my clothes ๐Ÿ˜›

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Fortunately, the more rural I have gone, I’ve began paying for less and less. I’ve received in numerous free drinks, fruit, biscuits, senbei, etc ๐Ÿ™‚

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Some new friends I interviewed about the tsunami ๐Ÿ™‚

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More new friends who made some wonderful new shoulder pads for me out of car upholstery etc ๐Ÿ˜›

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This is the family that I stayed with last night ๐Ÿ˜€ a lovely family in Ibaraki. Yes!!! I’m already in Ibaraki!!!! You’ll recognise the young man also helped make my new shoulder pads ๐Ÿ™‚ he kindly let me stay in his home with his family ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sumiya-San, a young lad who rode his bike along side me, and told me he was riding from Saitama to Ibaraki!!! Awesome!!!! Similar goal! ๐Ÿ˜€

To close, I suppose that I’d like to say I’m sorry. I have so so soooo much that I want to talk about, the conversations, the experiences etc, but there’s too much to write. I face losing opportunities talking to people that are here by spending so much time making around with formatting and such things on the iPad to upload them, so from here on will just be simple posts like this until I get back to Australia. It’s simple for me, and possibly even more enjoyable for you guys. Less to read? Let me know yeah?

Cheers guys!!!
I’m missing you all dearly ๐Ÿ˜€ but still having a bloody good time!!!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Day 2 – 35km from my starting point :)

Wow… Where in the world do I start…
14th July
Ok. So. I was supposed to start running 3 days ago, but that failed. I started wandering around Tokyo, went to a Colombian music festival, met an amazing man who’s travelled the world and lived in foreign countries for more than half of his life. I continued walking around, enjoying the multiculturalism that I didn’t expect to find in Tokyo, to discover so many Spanish speaking Japanese, and such a large number of Spanish speakers! Dancing, chatting, drinking ๐Ÿ™‚

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I also had some lunch in a vegetarian restaurant and was shocked to meet Mauricio ๐Ÿ™‚ a man from Canberra, there with his family who told me about his time in Chile during the intense earthquake in around 1980. He told me about his experiences, his family’s thoughts etc. quite appropriate for me to bump into him ๐Ÿ™‚

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I kept walking. I walked to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (็ตŒๆธˆ็”ฃๆฅญ็œ) where I was in for another surprise. I knew there were people campaigning against nuclear, but I wasn’t expecting this… There were tents there, this I knew and had been there for some 600 days demanding all nuclear be shut down because it’s actually not even needed in Japan. They explained that few reactors are being used now, and Japan is functioning very well – and I can back that – so many lights at night etc. the other thing, these campaigners aren’t youngsters… They’re oldies! All above 40, the chief was 72. Amazing. I was by far the youngest ๐Ÿ˜› unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, their Japanese was diffiicult and it was a noisy spot, so I didn’t get as much as I wished I could, but I’ll come back.

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While chatting, I began to hear screaming… What was that noise??? Around the corner came a demonstration… Students and their friends and family protesting… And I mean screaming out if sheer outrage at the government… I was moved. Such a conservative people screaming after tolerating enough.

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So these guys were protesting because the cost of education is far too high. They must work part time jobs at the same time, but they get paid less than Aus, and often sleep in classes, fail, all while doing Job Hunting. Job hunting might I add is the students one shot at getting a decent job, but there are too many people, not enough jobs, so many fail… Why study and work so hard, when there’s nothing waiting at the end for these people?

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After this, I went and chatted with a half Japanese, Half American girl, KT about Japan and it’s protests. Apparently there were some massive ones in the 60s. I’ll have to look into them ๐Ÿ™‚ apparently Japanese even made a fortress in Chiba to prevent the government from building it’s airport there.

I went back to the tent to continue talking until late at night. They let me use my mattress and stay the night before leaving the next morning ๐Ÿ™‚

15th July – Day 1 – Ran about 21km (not including my running off course to go view interesting sites ๐Ÿ˜›

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I’d left the tent by 5 after saying my goodbyes. It’s hot here. Especially around 12pm, so I need to do my walking in the mornings ๐Ÿ™‚ which I have been ๐Ÿ™‚

I ran a decent distance around Tokyo barefoot today ๐Ÿ˜› many MANY strange looks, but still a lot of fun ๐Ÿ™‚

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I made an effort to run past a lot of famous sites ๐Ÿ™‚ Imperial Palace

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Akihabara

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A beautiful temple in Asakusa which I said a few prayers over a few sentimental objects I’m carrying for strength and success, and that all that I do be out of love ๐Ÿ™‚

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Cool to see this pop up ๐Ÿ™‚ Anti-nuclear signs ๐Ÿ™‚ Stop nuclear, think of the children ๐Ÿ™‚

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Morning work out in Asakusa ๐Ÿ™‚

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Aaron with Skytree ๐Ÿ˜€

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A wonderful new friend, Riki ๐Ÿ™‚ we spoke for a few hours ๐Ÿ™‚ he gave me a tour of his hometown, and showed me his Uncle’s Eco Business. His Uncle converts Tempura Oil into a fuel source for cars ๐Ÿ™‚

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I liked this ๐Ÿ™‚ Let’s use Wa as a new greeting ๐Ÿ™‚ Wa means Peace. Wa also means Japan ๐Ÿ™‚

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On the road to Mito (ๆฐดๆˆธ) ๐Ÿ˜€

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Couldn’t believe I saw this at a Toyota. Japan is in a terrible state… So let’s use our money on constructing for a Paralympics! What???

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A beautiful sunflower on the way ๐Ÿ™‚

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I made some lovely new friends in Shibamata ๆŸดๅˆ^_^

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16th July – Day 2 – 15km so far, and it’s only 2pm ๐Ÿ™‚
A bunch of photos from today ๐Ÿ™‚ No deep and meaningful meetings… Yet ๐Ÿ˜›

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Sunrise at my campsite
I woke up around 4:30am to get a head start on my day ๐Ÿ™‚

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Koalas in Japan on the footpaths!!! Who would have guessed!?!

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Entering Chiba ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ So long Tokyo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Japan seems to make everything perfect… These trees really blew me away ๐Ÿ™‚

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The new age offering to the gods… A manga book… Lol

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Making progress!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Not sure when I’ll post again ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’m looking forward to it ๐Ÿ˜€
Wish me luck guys!!!!!! I’m having an absolutely incredible time ๐Ÿ˜€

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Day 0 – Start walking tomorrow :)

So it’s finally time for me to leave Tokyo, and to make my first steps towards Sendai. I’ve had an incredible week meeting with so many friends, catching up, sharing stories of growth, love and change, and taking in the busyness that is Japan’s major cities. On top of that, I’ve had the opportunity to mellow in the stillness of some of the parks and temples scattered around Tokyo and Kyoto offering a quiet refuge for people like me, often overwhelmed by the cities.

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I’ve been hesitant to leave, worrying about what could happen, but deep down in my heart I know I will be ok. I’ve been excited and anxiously awaiting this day for a long time, and it’s finally here.

My current plan is to walk to Sendai and arrive by the 6th of August. My purpose is to travel along the coast of Japan, to see the damage caused by the tsunami, and to hear the precious stories of some of the strongest people on the Earth. Not only did they endure a terrifying earthquake and powerful tsunami, but everyday now face the fear of radiation from Fukushima and it’s possible effects on not only their lives, but of their future children, an invisible, ferrying enemy.

I have already had several amazing conversations, one with an incredible homeless man in Shinjuku, who was living a normal life until the economic system collapsed and he was forced into a cardboard box without food, and one with a maid in Akihabara who was from Fukushima, experienced the tsunami and the radiation fears, and lives now with a massive smile on her face regardless.

To say the least, my time in Japan so far has been incredibly fruitful. I’ve had an abundance of incredible conversations, have influenced and have been influenced already by so many people, I’d be happy to go home now a changed person. But there is still so much more to come.

The 6th of August, my arrival date, is the special Tanabata festival, and it would be my pleasure if I can share this special day with my beautiful friends in Sendai and reflect on the adventure I will have had.

Tanabata is also a time to write wishes, so today, before I left, I left my Tanabata wishes on a tree at the Tokyo Information Centre for Tourists. It was kindly translated by Risa Hikichi, who I am glad to feel the honesty of my words and translate them so accurately.

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I wish that both Japanese and Western people can learn from what took place in Fukushima, and that we, the people of the world, can take positive steps forward to creating a more loving and caring world that nurtures each other, and the world’s beautiful environment.
็งใฏใ€ๆ—ฅๆœฌไบบใจๅค–ๅ›ฝไบบใฎไธกๆ–นใŒ็ฆๅณถใง่ตทใใŸใ“ใจใ‹ใ‚‰ๅญฆใณใ€็งใŸใกใจไธ–็•Œใฎไบบใ€…ใŒใ€ใŠไบ’ใ„ใ‚’ๆ„›ใ—ใ€ๆ€ใ„ใ‚ใ†็พŽใ—ใ„ไธ–็•Œใ‚’ๅ‰ตใ‚‹ใŸใ‚ใฎๅ‰ๅ‘ใใชใ‚นใƒ†ใƒƒใƒ—ใ‚’ๅ–ใ‚‹ใ“ใจใŒใงใใ‚Œใฐใ„ใ„ใจ้ก˜ใฃใฆใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚

I wish that even after such an event, humanity can all continue to smile and love one another, grow and be appreciative of the beautiful planet we have been blessed to live on.
็งใฏใ“ใฎใ‚ˆใ†ใชๅ‡บๆฅไบ‹ใฎๅพŒใ€ๅ…จใฆใฎไบบใ€…ใŒใŠไบ’ใ„ใซ็ฌ‘้ก”ใงใ„ใฆใŠไบ’ใ„ใซๆ„›ใ—็ถšใ‘ใ€ๅ…ฑใซๆˆ้•ทใ—ใ€็งใŸใกใŒ็”Ÿใใฆใ„ใ‚‹ใ“ใฎๆตใฟใซใ‚ใตใ‚Œใฆใ„ใ‚‹็พŽใ—ใ„ๅœฐ็ƒใซๆ„Ÿ่ฌใงใใ‚‹ใ“ใจใ‚’้ก˜ใฃใฆใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚

I wish that my travel will be successful, that I can touch the hearts of all of those I meet and spread my beautiful love of the world. I also wish that my heart may be open and willing to be touched by all of those I meet on my travels, and that I may continue to grow and truly learn to follow my heart.
็งใฏๅ‡บไผšใ†ๅ…จใฆใฎไบบใ€…ใฎๅฟƒใซๅฏ„ใ‚Šๆทปใ„ใ€ไธ–็•Œไธญใฎไบบใ€…ใซ็งใฎ็พŽใ—ใ„ๆ„›ใ‚’ๅบƒใ‚ใ“ใฎๆ—…ใ‚’็ต‚ใˆใŸใ„ใจ้ก˜ใฃใฆใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚็งใฎๅฟƒใŒๆ—…ใงๅ‡บไผšใ†ๅ…จใฆใฎใ“ใจใซใฒใ‚‰ใ‹ใ‚Œใฆๆ„Ÿๅ‹•ใ‚’่ฆšใˆใ€ๆˆ้•ทใ‚’็ถšใ‘ใ€็งใฎๆœฌๅฝ“ใฎๅฟƒใซๆทปใฃใฆๅญฆในใ‚‹ใ“ใจใ‚’้ก˜ใฃใฆใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚
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Deep down, I do pray that I will have safety over my trip, and that I will have the ability to touch the hearts of those affected by one of the worst disasters to date.

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