What and how much has happened in eleven months?
Eleven months is the time that have passed since the first big earthquake hit the Southwest region of my homeland.
Since a month ago, bullet trains have finally returned to running at full speed in this region, after completion of putting in place derailing prevention devices on the tracks. These devices were not originally planned to be placed, but when the first big earthquake hit it derailed an entire bullet train that was passing by the most affected area at the moment, so they were newly added at and around the point of derailment.
Luckily, it was a bullet train on the way to a train yard after hours, leaving no one hurt. Luckily, the damages to the tracks as well as to the train were limited, allowing all services to resume within a couple of weeks (though at reduced speed when passing by the most affected area). Luckily, such rapid recovery of one of the main means of long-distance transportation led to more people and supplies coming into the affected region to help out.
… Or was it all luck?
Okay, maybe it was sheer luck that the earthquake hit after hours.
But maybe the damages were limited because new, much stricter safety standards had been established after a strong earthquake hit the Mid-west region twenty-two years ago, which caused such severe damages that it left the bullet trains out of service for nearly three months.
And maybe much more people and supplies came into the affected regions because we became more aware of what would be most needed in rescue efforts after a huge earthquake and subsequent tsunamis hit the Northeast region six years ago.
The bullet train line in this region began its operation on March 12, 2011, just a day after we watched in disbelief as a chunk of our land got crushed and swept away. Instead of celebrating their launch with a big bang, they stopped advertising and took off very quietly. But within weeks, word of mouth got around that the ad gave strength and courage to those suffering – it filmed people coming together and wearing big smiles on their faces as they waved to the new bullet train passing by. So they re-edited it and sold DVD’s, donating a part of the proceed to the disaster relief fund.
(The ad, called “The 250km Wave,” even won the Gold Lion Award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that year!)
Maybe it was best that the earthquakes in the three regions never occurred, but we all accept it as a fact that, sooner or later, it will surely strike again.
And so, maybe that is why my people have learned to “give and be given” – a culture fostered to give in the expectation that it will be reciprocated in the future.
Today is called “White Day” in my homeland, a day to give back in response to Valentine’s Day. I think it would be a good day to give back love that we have received from the people in the Southwest when we most needed it… round and round, love goes!
We must also thank the love and support that we continue to receive from around the world. Maybe you do not celebrate “White Day,” but I hope you will accept our most sincere gratitude for keeping us in your thoughts – you are now officially riding the love train that runs round and round between us at full speed!