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When disaster struck Japan on March 11, the whole world gasped over media news of the horror. We prayed every day for your great country to be spared further pain. The loss was and is inestimable.

Back at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, we waited to know whether our opera tour was still going to Nagoya and Tokyo. Would we be safe? Would anybody in Japan want to see an opera after so much sorrow?

These were only some of the questions. Some people also wanted to rush to Japan and begin to use our days off to travel to the disaster site and help in any way we could — such as removing rubble, cleaning shelters and entertaining children.

This is my third tour to Japan with the Metropolitan Opera Company, and on this trip, I have truly fallen in love with Japan and its amazing people. Their kind hospitality is No. 1. Everywhere I go, from the local grocery store to the subway and the theaters, everyone I meet is friendly and helpful.

I will be learning Japanese from Rosetta Stone for my next trip, I promise!

Japan’s largest city, Tokyo, is clean, pretty, orderly and safe, because its people are. The teenagers we meet are polite and respectful. They were even giving away “free hugs” in Shibuya the other night, near the NHK theater. I was thrilled to get five free hugs. It was a pleasure and an honor to perform in Japan.

May God bless you in your recovery efforts. I look forward to returning soon with the help of the Japan Arts Council. With enormous gratitude and good wishes.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

alexandra newland

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