When she first arrived in Japan from Ireland in 2008, Sarah Hickey was mostly concerned with adjusting to her new life in Fukushima Prefecture. The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme placed her in Iwaki, which is itself a large city, but she found herself near the coast in less metropolitan surroundings.

"There was nothing there, just a supermarket and a school I was teaching at. It was an incredibly beautiful place — but it was tough," she says.

Gradually, Hickey grew accustomed to her corner of Iwaki, where she taught English at several junior and senior high schools. One thing she wasn't ready for were natural disasters, which she says scared her. She also doesn't recall receiving information about what to during a natural disaster at school during JET's Tokyo orientation or when she first arrived in Fukushima.