Sometimes, the most bizarre cultural experiences are the ones you don’t expect – and none of us could have predicted what happened just after we (we = Evan and Julia, guides, and Tom, PJT Intern) cleared passport control on Friday, March 11.
As we went to collect our bags, the shaking began. The earthquake wasn’t so bad here, but that didn’t stop the authorities from evacuating Narita Airport, letting us through Customs without bothering to check our bags. As we awaited news of the flight we were scheduled to meet – the flight carrying the participants on our Argyle/DMA Japan Invasion Tour – aftershocks kept coming, each one making the police and airport staff look slightly more paranoid than before.
Long story short: our tour participants are safe in a hotel in Hokkaido. As for us, we got free sleeping bags, water, and Ritz crackers from the airport and just woke up after a night of napping on the Narita Airport terminal floor. The aftershocks are still coming and kinda getting old – but they aren’t that strong. They finally re-opened the convenience stores so people are getting food – seeing people this happy to have cup ramen is an odd experience all its own!
I know this all sounds pretty dramatic (and believe me, it can feel that way when the authorities have a permanent look of worry on their faces), but I would be lying if I said this hasn’t shown us another side of Japan’s world-famous hospitality. The distribution of food and sleeping bags was orderly and safe, people are volunteering to help translate emergency messages into countless languages, and there’s a group of guys playing a loud game of “Uno” in the center of the terminal – making the best of the situation by having stupid fun. We’ve made friends with our neighboring “camp”, a group of young Japanese people who just returned from a trip to Mexico and were kind enough to share some snacks with us (we shared back ^_^).
We’re still not quite sure how all this will affect the upcoming Anime Insider Tour, but believe us when we say that we will do our utmost to make the tour a reality. We’re at the mercy of the authorities, but we’ll do what we can.
In the meantime, if you wanna come say hi, we’re in Narita Terminal 1, and just woke up after sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags generously provided by the airport. I’m gonna find those “Uno” guys and see if they’ll take a few extra players. XD
- Evan ^_^
If you would like to help, you can go to this website for some of your options: