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21 March 2011 @ 01:25 am
9 Days Later..  
It's been nine days since we (northern and mid-Japan) were hit with an Earthquake. One of the biggest ever in recorded history. Here in Tokyo it was only a magnitude 6, whereas it was a 9 in northern Japan. (Meaning that it was about 31 times stronger in Sendai according to my amateur calculations) It's really, really windy tonight. So much so that my house is actually shaking now and then. But after 9 days where the earth has barely stopped moving from under my (our) feet, a house shaking from wind isn't in the least bit frightening.

So far, there have been 618 aftershocks (as of the time I'm writing this). There have also been several unrelated quakes and their aftershocks in nearby places including Tokyo bay. For us, some of the aftershocks were even stronger than the original quake, though a lot shorter. Right now, even a 6 quake barely has me get up, unless it lasts longer than a few seconds. Long small ones still make me tense up, though, because like the first one, they might start to get stronger.

Samurai spirit. Never has it been more apparent than now. And, I confess, that for all that I have lived through here in Japan, all of the personal ups and downs that I've went through, somewhere in the back of my mind I still had the feeling of.. well.. outsider. When all is said and done, nothing has fundamentally shifted (haha- allow me my dark humor) in my life, but I finally feel as if I know. I don't want to leave the country, even for vacation. Maybe this means that when things get hard or rough I am the stick-my-heels-in-the-ground-and-fight-against-the-tide kind of person (I apologize for the bad choice of words). I've been called stubborn before, so it definitely isn't a surprise. I tend to want to change humanity for the better, and it's a Gene Roddenberry's vision or BUST kind of stance. I really want to do better about how I handle this, though. This is just something that I noticed personally about myself.

I know that most information is easily found elsewhere online, so I'll just sum up I guess what's going on for Tokyo at the moment. It really varies per person, but in general I think that Tokyo is settling in. I REALLY wanted to go to Sendai to help after the quake, and went as far as to answer some mails and ads from volunteer groups and the like. For various reasons, I ended up not going, and so I went out and did the only other thing that I felt that I could do: I donated to the Red Cross Japan fund, specifically to the Earthquake relief task force. For those of you in Japan, you can do the same thing that I did and go to a Family Mart. If you use the ticket machines, just press the icon with a heart on the front page and go on from there. If you need any help send me a text or call and I will try to walk you through it! For those of you who still aren't sure of other ways to donate or help out, I put a bunch of links under the cut, so please take alook if you are so inclined. I think I will buy items and donate them directly to 2HJ or another organization after I get paid at the end of the month, too.

Well, aside from the horrible natural disasters, there are of course the aftershocks. I was getting pretty frazzled, jumping up what felt like every two minutes when a particularly strong aftershock came by. Living alone and with the trains unreliable in an environment where the earth never stopped moving, I mostly stayed home alone, so it was a bit nerve-wracking for a while. In the midst of all of that, though, there was skype. I never, ever have used skype to call my family, but I did, over and over again. Somehow, it really helped. It made me feel a lot less lonely, and helped me keep worrywart family (XP) back home from overreacting. Skype being useful was a huge surprise for me. I will probably continue to use it to call abroad for quite a while.

It seemed that Tokyo got off pretty easy in the end, though. Unless you count the massive hoarding that is still continuing!! Bottled water, cup ramen, bread, milk, juice, and tons of other things just disappeared off the shelves. I can find all of them if I go to the right store at the right time, but I do hope that people let up soon. I will stock up and keep an emergency supply of things like bottled water next month or so after people settle down a bit. In fact, I am going to build a whole emergency kit with hard hats and radiation pills. You never know, and better safe than sorry!! That is one fact that has been pressed home quite clearly. I tended not to keep too many material things around, because being a person who has moved a lot in the last few years, less was more. But in this case, I will make sure I have the essentals. (Watch me turn back into a packrat, which I used to be...)

With so many power reactors down too, Tokyo is on a rotating blackout schedule. Somehow, my block is exempt.. I don't have a clue why we are so lucky, but I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth, and am doing my very best to conserve what electricity that I can, so that others hopefully don't have to go without. It has sure been cold a few nights, though. Although, nobody is as cold as the people in emergency shelters in Sendai.

And then of course there is still a radiation panic.. sort of. I'm not sure, really. It seems that there is a low level of general concern, and then there are people totally and completely panicking. And probably everywhere in between. But seeing as how radiation levels in Tokyo are completely normal, the reactors are more or less under control (I am an extremely optomistic person in anything other than love..), I'm not worried at all. I do have a fairly concrete idea of what I will do if something unbelievably horrible happens with the radiation, but I would generally set my panic level over that at zero. I guess I am just too laid back about that.

I did confirm what was most important to me. My friends and my love. Love trump all. It is very stressful there at the moment (love, not friends, they are all fine that I know of!), but that is a really personal thing for me and I would rather not talk about it. One small ray of light was that last Monday was White Day, a kind of reverse Valentine's Day, and with all of the things going on I nearly forgot about it. But the bf brought me a tiny little gift. It was so touching that I nearly cried. I just... if only all moments could be so special.

Currently, a lot of my non-japanese friends are not in Tokyo. Some of them left almost immediately in huge panics (I think mostly radiation), some left to get some relief from the aftershocks (which I can totally understand), and some left to assuage family members or for another reason. I think that most of them are coming back in a week or two, but some of them aren't. Some of them have already left, and some are leaving soon, and yet others who I assumed were going to stay forever are saying that this year will be their last year. In a way, it's really sad. I am sad to see people go. It's a fact of life when you have a lot of non-japanese friends living in Japan that most of them leave eventually, and lifers like me and Jenya are hard to find. But it's still sad to see so many go so quickly. I am glad that at least we have the internet and Facebook and such to keep in touch.

Well... when all is said and done, at least I am alive! Alive and shaken on an intimate level, but more or less the same person. Now I have a clearer understanding of who I want to be in an emergency (prepared and reliable), what is important (love and family, friends are included in this family), and how much Japan is my home (I never, ever want to leave). I am very, very lucky.

Now, I will leave you with a few pictures of empty shelves from last week, my only earthquake damage (paltry!), and a TON of videos and links. Everything from funny to tragic, heartbreaking to heartwarming, they are all there!! And I will try to update more often from now on! I also need to get another Video Friday out there.. maybe on Monday (tomorrow :))



Lots of things fell down and the apartment was more or less a mess, but I didn't suffer any damage except for a cup that I broke later on of my own accord. Very very lucky!



This is what some of the stores still look like, especially in the evenings. I have heard that it will start to normalize by Tuesday, though.. I really hope so.











(The masks are for cold/hayfever relief. Nothing to do with radiation or anything like that. Btw, it doesn't really help with hayfever, at least to me.)





This is a video someone took not too far from where I live, of the original quake. I think it shows pretty much what it felt like for people in my area. I took refuge in a doorway away from windows like I was taught in school (my desk is next to my fridge, which seemed as if it might fall over, so I thought the doorway was a better option). But it was so long that it really shook me up and for a while I couldn't even move from where I was crouching.



This video is a little bit funny.. hopefully it will take away some of the shock! Buildings swaying in Tokyo right after the quake:



We didn't have it near as bad as people up in Sendai did, though..



For days, these tsunami videos were shown on the news. That was all that you could see. Some are worse than others. All are really, really scary. The power of nature is scary. If you keep in mind that some of those specks are probably people, and there were probably people in many of those cars and floating houses.. Sometimes you can hear them screaming. It's horrible.


This is the video that I saw the most often on tv:






I'm sure you have seen your share by now..

So I will show you something more.. umm.. interesting. This came out a few days ago, and is trying to teach kids (and me) about the situation in Fukushima right now. Well, at least some parts of Japan haven't changed, and they sure are fast!



It only covers the first couple days, but this video of the quake and aftershocks is kind of interesting. For me, it was a bit soothing and distracting in a time when I was feeling pretty tense. About halfway through is the "big one". You'll know it when you see it.:



This is the blog of a friend who lives in Sendai, that I want to share. She left for Taiwan yesterday to take a break, but she writes a lot about what it was like, and how you can help too. Please take a second to read!! http://youkofujima.livejournal.com/

This drawing sums up some things very nicely: http://phobs.deviantart.com/art/to-support-Japan-201163773

GREAT news source (from the paper that I write for, even!) There are a few heartwarming stories in there that I love.. like the baby that survived being washed away from his mother's arms ♥ : http://www.facebook.com/AJW.Asahi

Wikipedia with a lot of information about the nature of the quake (some of it's not up to date, though): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Sendai_earthquake_and_tsunami

Why there CANNOT be another Chernobyl in Fukushima. This page is really, really interesting. It's written by a nuclear physicist, and was recommended personally by someone I know: http://excelerating.tumblr.com/post/3848169644/a-full-explanation-of-nuclear-power-plants-in-japan

More about the reactors: http://www.businessinsider.com/japan-reactors-pose-no-risk-2011-3

Some good links for people in Tokyo:

Up-to-date information on the nuclear reactors in Fukushima: http://metropolis.co.jp/quake/quake-2011-03/fukushima-nuclear-power-plant/

Daily radiation readings in Tokyo: http://metropolis.co.jp/quake/quake-2011-03/tokyo-atmospheric-radiation-levels/

Official TEPCO site listing the blackout areas and times (changes daily). Also be sure to check your ku's homepage, as some areas are exempt (like mine, luckily.. x.x): http://www.tepco.co.jp/index-j.html

Japan Meteorological Agency Earthquake Information Page (Earthquake information is up soon after occurence): http://www.jma.go.jp/en/quake/00000000053.html


Some good stories are coming out of the rubble:

Amid disaster, Japan's societal mores remain strong: http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/16/japan.cultural.order/index.html?hpt=C2

This made me laugh! Marauding mobs in Tokyo! (Thanks Adele!) http://makikoitoh.com/journal/marauding-mobs-japan-earthquake

And subsequently, these messages made me cry. It's things like this that I want to read when I have lost any faith in humanity. Because we are not bad at the core, and I never want to forget it!! https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1oR7mRBNCog-FeVrtl0dD4Suoi2hL0XE4YOoAPdCyZ3w&pli=1



Ways to Help!!!!

Donate food and supplies to Second Harvest Japan (I have volunteered with them before, they are a great group and very legit! If you are not sure where to donate money and actually have it be put to good use, this is a good one!): http://www.2hj.org/index.php/news/send_us_food_and_supplies/

See Yohko's blog for info: http://youkofujima.livejournal.com/

And Eda's: http://dilettantka.livejournal.com/494631.html

Another place to donate items: http://disasterjapan.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/tokyo-volunteer-team/


Wow, I started this post more than four hours ago, so I think that it's time to cut it short for now.... night everyone!

PS: I really tried to make sure that I didn't sound callous toward anyone or anything. If I did, I am very very sorry, rest assured it is not meant that way! I am paying a lot more attention to my writing now, to never hurt anyone. I'm very sorry if I have before, as well. -_-

And..

Thank you SO MUCH for all of your comments/tweets/emails/messages/calls about my safety and the safety of my friends! I was so touched reading the messages. Short or long, it doesn't matter at all.. Thank you so much! They really helped at a time when I was not feeling so well.

Anyone who wants to see random stuff from me can follow my twitter, too!! It's pretty boring at times, but I love getting messages on there too!

http://twitter.com/jamieism
 
 
 
Fiammattafusakugyoku on March 20th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
Sounds absolutely frazzling. Thanks for the report; it's nice to hear how things are going from someone actually there. I am so glad you're all right, and that Tokyo is starting to pick up. Stay strong!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on March 20th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm pretty much fine and only worried about stupid personal issues, so don't worry about me. I am going pretty strong now!

I am worried about the people in Sendai, though, and will do the best that I can to help!
Julie: standing on the outsideragnarok_08 on March 20th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that you're all right and that Tokyo is beginning to pick up. You stay strong now :)
Taka-Katechizenakira on March 20th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
That was a great read, and the pictures you took really showed how this food shortage really was. It is amazingly severe... If this had happened anywhere else than japan, boy would people be rioting, stealing and all that.. I have seen indeed many videos, but throughout a lot of them, disaster was apparent.

Japan is a strong country, but losing that much land to the flood... wow. Not only land, but families? It saddened me a lot, and if it were happening to me, I am not certain I could go on. That people find the strenght to do so is something that amazes me.

This truly does make me want to visit Japan and see everything for myself. So many incredible sights must be destroyed ;_;

Good to hear things are stabilizing in Tokyo. As they say, life must go on. Good luck, Japan! Go Japan!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on March 21st, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
I agree about how it would be if this had happened anywhere other than Japan!! The food shortage really isn't as bad as it looks, though. ^.~ Those are the aisles with the instant ramen and bottled water and bread mostly, which are the hard things to find. There is plenty else to eat, though! =^^=
(no subject) - echizenakira on March 22nd, 2011 02:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
night_owl_9: standing in the sunshinenight_owl_9 on March 20th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC)
Oh wow...thank you so much for the report. I'm so glad to see that you are doing ok and that the samurai spirit in Japan still prevails.

*hugs*
Kyo-chan: FF8 - Squall proudkyofujimiya on March 20th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad to hear that you're safe and that it wasn't so bad where you were. *hugs a lot* This post is...really emotional for me (probably not as much as it was for you... ^_^) but it's a life-lesson. Hardcore and thought-provoking. You are a fighter and always have been. Randomly, I have Skype also, so if you ever need to talk, I'm still here. There's email too if you feel like it. :) Do take care, hon. Stay strong!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on March 21st, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
Oh! Can you send me your skype user name? Just send it to my email and I'll add you on =^^=
in_the_mood_for on March 20th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the update. I have been curious.
bedelesteriabedelesteria on March 20th, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the extensive report and your personal account to the disaster. I'm happy to hear you're doing okay, although I'm still very much worried about the radioactive contamination. Stay safe. ;___;
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on March 21st, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
Oh, don't worry at all! The radiation here is at normal levels, it's only close to the reactors that there is any problem. ^^
EQBeccequambonum on March 20th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
I'm very much a lurker up here, but I wanted to thank you for giving us your perspective of the events, and the tons of links and articles. I've been doing all I can from far away to help on my poor student budget. Continue to stay safe, and please do what you need to do to feel secure and not become too isolated!
Sherseishin on March 20th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
I know we don't know each other well, but you were one of the people I kept in my thoughts constantly after the quake and tsunami. The other is a friend of a very good friend of mine, who lives in Sendai - it took a week before my friend got word that she and her family were alright.

Long story short, I'm really glad to hear that you're doing alright, and coping with what's going on (as best you can). And got some affirmations about making Japan your home. Have to take the silver linings where you can. :)

Stay safe, and strong!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on March 21st, 2011 01:07 am (UTC)
I'm really glad that your friend and her family were all right! And thank you for keeping me in your thoughts ^^
Laurenblackjedii on March 20th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
Glad you're all right.
Kimyunni on March 20th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
March 11th was my birthday and I really didn't feel like celebrating it. It was too sad and weird... all my Japanese friends and my boyfriend were so worried, my mind was all on them. My boyfriend have family in Sendai so we were so friggin scared for them - luckily they are all safe!!

He's back in Japan now, as his UK visa runs out and I'm going to move there this year to be with him :) The earthquakes and such don't deter me, but I won't lie and say I'm not nervous! I donated right away to the Japan Redcross... some of the footage and photos i've seen from the effected areas are so sad.... but also amazing to see things like this:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/film-crew-narrowly-escapes-tsunami?awesm=awe.sm_5HFCY&utm_content=awesm-tweet-button-horizontal&utm_medium=awe.sm-twitter&utm_source=twitter.com

The Japanese are really inspiring people, the way they reacted to the disaster and are pulling together is something other countries should take note of.
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on March 21st, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
Oh man, what an awful birthday. I wouldn't have felt like celebrating it either. :/

When you get to Japan, let me know! Maybe we can hang out ^^
(no subject) - yunni on March 21st, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jtjpjtjp on March 20th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)

Wow, this entry had some interesting things about the earthquake/tsunami I had never seen. It's like witnessing it first hand. Those videos gave me chills. =/

takenokotakenoko on March 20th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I'm glad you're okay and not too terribly affected by this natural disaster. Stay safe :)
(Deleted comment)
calliopem_eratocalliopem_erato on March 20th, 2011 09:32 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to know you're ok and blessed that nothing serious happened to you.

The food shortage is really severe although I'm optimistic that Japan will recover soon enough.