Kristin Hanaoka

Kristin Hanaoka is a fourth generation Japanese American from the Chicago suburbs. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Elementary Education. She is currently teaching English in Japan with the Japan Teaching and Exchange Program as an Assistant Language Teacher in Takahagi, Ibaraki-ken, located directly south of Fukushima-ken on the northeast coast of Japan. Kristin has been in Japan since July 2009 and teaches at several high schools in the northern Ibaraki area.

Updated Apirl 2011

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Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

An Unforgettable Experience in Japan - Part 3

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Monday, March 14th

Monday morning we woke up early to get to the bus. The first bus was leaving at 9:20 a.m., but it was first come, first served. On Sunday, we saw people arriving two hours ahead of time, so we arrived early to secure our seats. I went up to the front desk to get my cell phone that they had been charging for me and a staff member handed me an article and a note. He told me rolling blackouts would be starting that day and the Tsukuba Express train that we ...

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Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

An Unforgettable Experience in Japan - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

Saturday, March 12th

My friends and I woke up at 6:00 AM to see if any of the buses were running and going to the airport. I had made a bus reservation for 6:45 AM that would take them directly to Narita Airport. Their flight to Chicago was scheduled to depart at 11:20 AM. However, we couldn’t get through to the bus company and the hotel staff said no buses were running and all the taxis were in high demand. There was no way to get to the airport, so my friends called ...

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Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

An Unforgettable Experience in Japan - Part 1

Friday, March 11

On Friday, March 11, 2011, my life was turned upside down. A 9.0 earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Japan, followed by a massive tsunami that killed more than 8,100 people, left 12,000 missing and displaced 452,000 people. Since March 11th, there have been close to 1,000 aftershocks felt all over Japan, including over six quakes around Fukushima and the northern Ibaraki area.

There have been mounting fears about the Fukushima nuclear reactors and radiation as well as a shortage of fuel, food and water in many areas. I witnessed the long ...

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