I lived in Japan for one year, from 1996-1997 and LOVED it. I was an English teacher with the JET Program, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. The people were so kind, and everything was so different from Texas, and I learned a lot!
The first American death has been recorded in Japan, a JET teacher. I was at Disneyworld when the earthquake and tsunami happened, so it sort of seemed distant to me. Watching this 60 minute story about Japan made everything seem real.
I lived in Ibaraki prefecture, in Yasatomachi, which is on the other side of the mountain from Tsukuba, the science city. Ibaraki is about 4 hours southwest of Sendai by car. I taught at 4 junior high schools, and I rode my bike to them just like the American teacher who died. I loved my year in Japan. I made great friends, and loved the culture and the beauty of Japan. If you want to learn more about the experience of teaching English in Japan, read this excellent book by Bruce Feiler. I kept up with a few Japanese friends via email for a few years but have lost touch.
I did experience earthquakes while I lived in Japan and they were terrifying because I had never experienced any in my Texas life. Apparently, Ibaraki has had many earthquakes and aftershocks.
You can learn about what the United Methodist Church is doing in Japan right now and donate all at the same time. May we continue to lift up to God all those affected in Japan.