It was about 3 weeks of silence due to the great Tohoku earthquake. I have a lot to say and little time for blogging so let’s start. However, what you will find here are not breaking news, but thoughts and conclusions from the point of view of a foreigner living in Tokyo.
It was 14:46, I was working in my office at Tameikesanno st., just the next building close to the American Embassy. As you can imagine it just started shaking, then stronger and stronger… and then really badly!
It’s hard to explain what was in my mind at that moment. The first thing I thought was “Is this the great Kanto earthquake?” Fortunately or unfortunately it wasn’t.
I was thinking about my girlfriend, friends and everybody else around. Where are them? I faced the possibility that in that very moment they could die. In such situation, I wasn’t able to understand if that was a really big quake of just a bigger one. I had never felt something similar, so for me, and everybody else in the office, it was just insanely big! The building I’m working in is new, well built, strong but… what about other ones? One thought came to my mind just straight away: “If you get out the building now or 5 or 10 minutes later, nothing is going to change. If something really bad happened to somebody you care, it has already happened and you cannot do anything now to stop it!” So I waited until the first quake ended, then took my stuff, checked with my coworkers and run away from the building, looking for a taxi to reach home and see how she was (my gf) !! I couldn’t contact using the mobile network but fortunately data network was almost OK. Twitter was the main source of information and the faster way to contact with her and friends. I could see from the taxi people in the streets with their helmets, people looking up to the buildings to see if some of them were damaged.
Then the second quake came, when I was still in the taxi. The driver turned the radio on just before the second quake came and at a certain moment the radio sent out an alert for the next coming quake. The driver stopped the car, and we waited for a few seconds. That moment into the taxi was like being in a boat… The taxi driver was pretty old and he told me he had never experienced such a big quake before in his whole life. The traffic was jammed and it would take a really long time to reach home if I kept inside the car. So I just paid the driver and came back home by walk. Fortunately I was quite close already so it took me about 1.5hours to reach home. Other people didn’t have the same luck. Many of them spent 6 to 8 hours or more to reach home and some other people had to spend the night at stations or in their offices until the next day. Trains collapsed and the entire transportation infrastructure was almost frozen.
Finally I reached home, everything was quite fine. A lot of stuff around, some stuff broken but she was OK and also friends were OK. At Tokyo we were really lucky, infrastructures resisted pretty well and not a single one building had collapsed.
For the next days we stayed at home feeling an aftershock after another. It was like a never ending dance of the earth. The feeling at some point, experienced by many other people as well, was like being dizzy, like being in a boat! Always worrying about the next quake, worrying about the next alert, worrying about almost everything. Those were a really paranoid days I won’t forget.
Here you can see a map showing the sequence of quakes in Japan since March 11th 2011. http://www.japanquakemap.com/
This was basically my story. It was the first time I felt an earthquake of such magnitude and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Unfortunately for people in the north of Japan, affected by the tsunami, things weren’t so smooth. Thousands of fatalities and missing lives, families destroyed, broken, no food and water during the first days. The psychological impact that such a cataclysm will have in their minds will last for decades.
They need help. Japanese National Guard, Japan Red Cross, US military forces and many other organizations and volunteers are doing a great job but help is always needed and not just right now but during years. Money and support will help those people during a short period of time. They not only need to feed their stomachs right now but they need to rebuild their lives. That takes time and, especially, that takes constant economic support.
So please don’t forget victims after few months.
More information about the earthquake in the wikipedia.