Iron Man in Japan: Seeing the Devastation and Looking Forward to Seeing the Kids

Today we left Tokyo and traveled for 7 hours to Ofunato, one of the areas most devastated by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that left much of the eastern shore of Japan destroyed.

Despite being inundated by media coverage of the earthquake in the United States and being prepped by members of the U.S. State Department upon my arrival, nothing quite prepared us for the actual first-hand account of this disaster. It seemed like I was always the first one back on the bus as we stopped a few times to get out and review the damage. Maybe that was a defensive mechanism to protect myself a little from all we were seeing.

As hard as it is to imagine what the Japanese people endured, I tend to look at the positive side... the strength and resilience of the Japanese people and how the towns are being rebuilt eight months later.

Soon we will be conducting clinics for kids who lost so much and it will be even more important for us to see that they have fun, smile and laugh. I hope that our being there gives them a little break from the realities of the day and lets them know that people from around the world care about them and the Japanese people overall.

I guess the next few days are really why we are here and I am looking forward to it. We will see some of the kids who came to the United States earlier this year and met us at our baseball complex in Aberdeen, MD.

We will also visit the hometown of the great Japanese player, Sachio Kinugasa, this weekend. Sachio has been working with us on this tour and it is great seeing him again. We got to know each other a little back in 1996 when I broke his world record of consecutive games played. I know this trip means a great deal to him personally and as a native of Japan.

Thanks for reading and for following our trip. It has been a wonderful visit so far and I have a feeling it will get even better over the next few days.

Cal Ripken Baseball