At first, I never thought those days will leave a strong record in my heart. When I met those strangers, I never thought they would be my family. When I experienced all those things, I never thought it would be my motivation every time I felt lazy. When I met those victims but they were keep smiling and being friendly all the time, I never thought it would be so touching. I never thought it would be like this.
I met all of them in Embassy of Japan, Jakarta. We got known each other after saying “Hi! What’s your name? My name is….”, a very cliché way to introduce yourself. They came from different cities and different culture . It was all awkward and strange, but then we got used to it. We were very excited about what experience would we had ten days ahead. We were keep guessing and guessing without knowing the truth. I adapted with ‘gue-lo’ slang, although in Bandung it doesn’t sound familiar.
We arrived in Narita, Japan. It felt so amazing, because it was not easy to be here. We were excited and we felt the cold breeze went through our face. It was very cold that day in Tokyo, but our excitement covered it all.
We were told that our mission to go here was not just for fun. It must be deeper than that. It must be more helpful than just ‘fun’. So, our mission was to see and to experience how the condition of Japan after an enormous earthquake and tsunami that happened in 2011 is and how did Japan recover from that. After we all got home, we must tell our families, friends, and our society what we have seen in these 10 days.
I saw the bigger picture of this mission. If we succeed, we could help Japan in tourism and economical section. So, we were all like the ambassadors to tell others to come to Japan, because Japan has successfully recovered. I was very interested on this mission.
The next day, we went to Kesennuma-Oshima by the most amazing train I ever had in my life, Shinkansen. I was amazed by how fast and how comfortable it is! I would never forget the time I sat on that train next to my best friends and saw the view was moving fast, very fast. And, we arrived on the destination station just on time! When they said 4.13, they really meant it! When we arrived, it was snowy beautifully.
We had a long trip before we reached our guest house named Kyukammura. When we got our room, we were welcomed with all Japanese style. It was cool and it was something different. Just imagine, everything you saw in Doraemon cartoon in every Sunday just became alive! Tatami, futon, onsen, everything! Every night we visited our friends in different rooms just to tell how amazing everything is.
The food was also unforgettable. For breakfast, we can choose everything we like (buffet), for lunch, it was in a very good portion, but… for dinner, we could not finish it. It was a lot of food on the table, in many different kinds. We had cream soup, ebi furai, miso soup, rice, fish, egg, sausages, et cetera. Our stomach was filled up with Japanese food until there was no space left!
We went to a kindergarten school in Kesennuma-Oshima. The kids were on their maximum level of cuteness! They were all so cute and innocent until we all felt like we want to kidnap one of them.
When we came to their class, their teacher told us (in Japanese of course) that the children would sing a song for welcomed us. At first, we all thought that it would be just another kid’s song, but when we heard it, I felt my heart skipped a beat just because the way they sang it, they sang it sincerely. I never saw 11-year-old children sang as beautiful as that.
Even though, we did not understand the meaning of that song, we could say that song has a very deep meaning and our coordinators (Kuswan-san and Mabuchi-san) told us, that song is about we must reach our dream as high as you can. That song named ‘Boku no Hikouki’ which means ‘My airplane’. Officially, that song inspired us until we made a project titled ‘A Song from Kesennuma-Oshima’. We enjoyed our time at the kindergarten school and it was very hard to say goodbye to them.
Next, we made a bindama! Bindama is like the fishers use out in the sea. We were divided into groups and each group there was an old fisherman. He helped us made it, because to made it, need special skills. There were around 10 people in my group. When I saw him, he was sweating a lot but he ignored it and keeps on working. Still many of us who needed his help, and there were young ones who were ready to took place in case the old ones were tired. Finally, we supported the old fisherman while we fluttered him. He did not give up, he did not complain. He keeps on working and working. I was touched by his tenacity. Although, he is not young anymore, his spirit did not fade.
Making bindama is a bit hard, but the result was satisfying. After the fisherman tied it all up nicely, we could bring back the bindama to Indonesia and show it to our friends!
Next, we visited the disaster-affected areas in Kesennuma-Oshima. It was horrible to imagine how scary the disasters are. Tsunami and earthquake combination did not seem friendly.
When we got there, we could say the disaster-affected areas are clean. I was amazed by how quick and efficient they have worked, because the disaster happened just 2 years ago but everything seemed clean. There was not any debris. Only few buildings that still need a renovation but it was all ok.
On our way, we saw a stranded ship on the land. It was hard to take it back to the sea because it was already on the land. Now, the government is still discussing about what they will do with this ship. There are 2 options. First, to divided the ship into pieces and make it all gone, or second, to make this stranded ship as a monument so that everyone will always remember this fourth biggest earthquake in Japan so far. If we choose the first one, let us think about our generation. Maybe they will not realize how big the disaster was, because there was nothing left, but if we choose the second choice, the problem is Japanese does not like it if we remind or retell them about the disaster. So, the government is still discussing about this stranded ship. What about you? What do you think about it?
I heard that Japanese always return what they had given. Seeing that after the disaster, there were a lot of people around the world come to Japan as volunteers, they helped each other, they cleaned all the debris and other noble actions. The destruction that only can be cleaned after 50 years, it was all done by just 2 years. How amazing was that! So, as the return, the citizens are showing their cheerful character. They did not want to be seemed sad, because the volunteers had helped them a lot and that is why they were always smiling. Even though they missed their house, families, relatives, but they change their sadness into a smile.
When we had to leave Oshima, it was a very sad ending. It was very hard to say goodbye to them. They gave us experience, amazing stories and realities, beyond everything, remarkable days. I would never forget each of them and stories we have made while we were still there. I would never forget each memory. I would never forget everything in there. We might say goodbye now, but it was just a temporary goodbye. I will meet them all again, someday. They gave nothing, but something precious. Something that really touched from the bottom of my heart until I keep telling myself, this was not ‘Goodbye!’, but this was ‘See you soon!’.
I met so many amazing people there. Kuswan-san, Mabuchi-san, Bu Astri, Pak Warsito, Komatsu-san, Murakami-san, and everyone who has contributed on this Kizuna Bond Project. They gave me support and I assumed them as my family too. And of course, all my friends in Group C, you are all amazing. I found every one of you is unique. I never met someone like you all before and thanks for everything.
After all, all I can tell to my relatives is how great different cultures are. Step out from your comfort zone and do something that you think you cannot do but only if it is realistic enough. Make sure what you have chosen will be a lesson, something precious in the end, not just to be a piece of waste. I never thought everything would be like this. I never thought everything would go this way. I never thought I would miss every one of them so much. I never thought I would miss every moment with them this much. I never thought I wished I could go and turn back time from the beginning again.
These ten remarkable days really meant to me. It changed the way I feel and think. No regret, just grateful all the time. Thank you, Bina Antarbudaya. Thank you, Indonesia. Thank you, Japan. Thank you, Kizuna.
Adriana Anjani adalah seorang returnee Kizuna, program jangka pendek yang diselenggarakan atas kerjasama Bina Antarbudaya dengan Pemerintah Jepang.