This has been the coldest March I’ve experienced in my 6 years in Japan. It’s spring now, but still feels like early February. It’s supposed to finally warm up next week, though! It’s soon time for hanami, but this week’s pictures feature other flowers. Spring is finally here!
Monthly Archives: March 2011
I’ve been asked a few times by friends and family about what I’m going to do. The simple answer is that I’m going to keep living as I always have. Get up, go to work, enjoy work, come back home, sleep, enjoy my days off, just live like always. No, I am not leaving Japan. I’m not leaving the area, either. Only once during this entire time did I feel any kind of fear or panic, and that was during the earthquake. The nuclear aftermath doesn’t worry me. I’m not the least bit worried about the situation. It’s under control, radiation is dropping, power is being restored. In fact, reactors 5 and 6 are now in cold shutdown. Danger of radiation outside the 30km zone is negligible. Life right now has some inconveniences, but that’s all they are, just inconveniences. Most things have returned to normal. Work is completely normal, for one thing. No, I am not going to leave. I’m safe, and so is everyone else. And it seems that the western media is starting to clue in to the fact that they have overblown everything. They panicked a lot of foreigners living in Japan. They’ve been irresponsible.
Also, I just wanted to add that 75% of French people who live in Japan have gone back to France. The joke’s on them, radiation levels in France are higher than Tokyo’s. Wow.
There’s so much focus on the nuclear problem that’s happening in Japan, I think many people are forgetting the victims of the tsunami. There are tens of thousands of people in shelters waiting for food and water that isn’t being delivered fast enough. People in the Tokyo area need to make sure they conserve gas and stop hoarding food. It’s making it difficult for the victims to receive much needed aid.
I’d also like to mention that there are several charities that you can donate to. If you can, please donate.
Just a quick post with some updated information. The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains the same. They’re still pumping water in (actually, dropping it from helicopters), but there is good news. Power is expected to be restored to the power plant this afternoon, which will make things a lot easier to control the cooling. Western media has been reporting an explosion is going to happen, and the US Embassy is advising an 80 km evacuation radius. Japanese officials are denying that it’s needed. Radiation levels outside the 20 km radius are safe. In fact, radiation has been dropping over the past 12 hours. Tokyo is safe! Also, there’s been a large number of foreigners leaving the area. French and German governments are advising unnecessary evacuations of their nationals.
Again, I’d like to repeat, do not believe what you hear in western media. They sensationalise everything for ratings. Search for NHK World online and see if you cam watch or listen. It’s in English!
A couple of hours ago, there was a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Fujinomiya city in Shizuoka prefecture, just west of Mt Fuji. This earthquake is not related to Mt Fuji. I’ve been monitoring twitter quite a bit lately, just so I could get some actual news, rather than what CNN is reporting, and the Japan Meteorological Agency stated that it is not related to Mt Fuji. The mountain is quiet.
On the topic of CNN, I wish that they, MSNBC and FOX would just report the actual news. They hype things up and provide misinformation. No, Tokyo is not in a panic. No, there isn’t a poisonous cloud of radioactive gas heading to Tokyo. Tokyo is safe. No, Sendai was not destroyed. My advice to western media is this: Start reporting real news or shut the hell up. They’re doing more damage than good by reporting lies just to boost their ratings. Shameless. Absolutely disgusting and irresponsible.
There are probably a lot of similar photos on blogs, but this us what I saw at the supermarket near my apartment. Convenience stores are quite similar. The shelves are bare not because of a shortage, but because of panic buying by hoarders. The supply is coming in. People need to calm down and only buy what they need.
Thankfully, Budget Trouble’s “Show Me Japan” is happening this week. This post is taking part.
It’s been more than 48 hours since the big earthquake. As of this moment, the magnitude has been revised to 9.0, there are still tsunami warnings, still a possibility of an aftershock of up to magnitude 8.0, a likely partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, more than 1000 dead, entire towns wiped off the face of the earth, frequent aftershocks in the 5-6 magnitude range, and a very real threat of blackouts in the Tokyo area tomorrow when offices and businesses open. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s going to happen. I’ve been reading about economic difficulties for Japan, yet the rebuilding process will likely greatly boost Japan’s economy, with a large number of jobs being created. Japan is a resilient country. This isn’t the first time disaster has struck, and it isn’t the deadliest, but this is the most massive earthquake ever recorded in Japan since earthquakes started being measured. It is tied for the 4th largest earthquake ever recorded in the world. But in the Sendai area, they will rebuild. Homes, farms, towns, cities, they’ll rebuild. They’ll probably even rebuild all the shrines and temples that were wiped away, just as they did after World War II. This is the reality right now. I’m at home, as it’s my day off, and I’ll be returning to work on Tuesday, as usual. When I go outside, you’d never know there had just been a massive megathrust earthquake that moved Honshu 2.5 metres to the east and spawned a deadly tsunami that devastated the east coast of northwestern Japan and caused damage in Hawaii, Oregon and California. It is absolutely surreal. I still can’t believe it happened. I just experienced a 9.0 magnitude earthquake! Yes, I’m not near the epicentre, but it was frightening in Yokohama. So, this is what happened at 2:46pm on March 11, 2011.
I was teaching my first class of the day, with only 9 minutes to go until the end of the lesson. The building started shaking, and I said to my student, “Oh, it’s an earthquake.” We stopped talking and just looked at each other and the walls and door. No big deal, I’ve felt earthquakes like this before, I thought. The shaking continued for a while, and I realised that it was getting stronger. I opened the classroom door, and we immediately went out to the lobby where my student’s 4 year old son was watching a video. My coworkers and I decided that we had to evacuate immediately. Our school is on the 4th floor of a building that’s not so new, so we were quite worried. The shaking continued to get stronger. One of my students for my next class was also present, and as she was an elderly lady, we had to slowly help her down the stairs. The shaking kept getting stronger and stronger! I was wondering when it was going to end. We were all scared. I normally weather earthquakes quite well, and shrug them off, but this was nothing like I’d ever felt before. This was a violent earthquake! We finally made it out of the building, and saw many people outside.
After a few minutes, we were unsure of what to do. The ground had stopped moving, and there appeared to be no damage. We decided to go back up to the school, see what the damage was, and find out what we could do. I couldn’t get any phone calls out with my cell phone, though internet still worked. I looked up earthquake information, and it said magnitude 8.9. 8.9! Was this “The Big One?” Of course, it turned out it isn’t the big one that Kanto is expecting, but this was unimaginably huge.
We got back up to the school and found no damage. Some books had fallen off shelves, but that’s all. We wondered what to do. I was actually ready to start my next lesson, and we thought no one else would be coming. But the manager told us that we were told to evacuate. So, down the stairs we went again! But this time, I was sure to grab all of my belongings, in case we weren’t returning. One of my students arrived just as we were leaving. Class was canceled.
For the rest of the day, we were back up in the school, just waiting to see what’s going to happen. A big aftershock hit, a 7.1, but we still waited. No other students came, many had to take the train to get to the school. All trains were stopped. We wondered how we were getting home. Phones were working on and off, text messaging wasn’t working, but I could still access the internet on my phone. I made sure I left messages on Facebook to let everyone know I was ok immediately after the earthquake. The news reports were shocking. I’m sure you know what happened. Most businesses closed and didn’t allow anyone inside.
So, how did we get home? Well, after some waiting on the floor in a bank by the station for someone to pick us up, we learned that the traffic was so bad that it would take quite a while. So, we decided to start walking in the direction of Yamato. However, as we were in the station, they announced that the trains had started running, and we went to the platform. We all separated, and I took the Izumino Line to Shonandai. The train moved slowly, probably as a safety precaution. The rest of the way was uneventful, and I met up with my girlfriend to get something to eat. Restaurants were open, which is a good thing. Supermarkets were closed, and all the food was gone in convenience stores. When we arrived home, there was no damage. A light was hanging at an angle, a few things were knocked down and all the sliding doors were open. We were lucky.
Yesterday, it was difficult to get food in convenience stores. All sold out. We had to get food from restaurants. I have yet to go to any stores today, but I’ll check out the supermarket and convenience stores to see how their supplies are.
I hope that those of you who are in Japan are safe. It’s been an unforgettable experience, that’s for sure.