Today began as a slightly adventurous day, as a tremor-induced emergency jaunt to the parking lot brought relief from the monotony of marking entrance exams. But as news began to roll in of the effects of what is now being called the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s recorded history, the adventurous mood turned much more somber.
Before I go any further, I want to let everyone know that we personally are okay, the earthquakes we’ve felt in our area are relatively modest, and our apartment is towards the mountains and up a giant hill, so we are not in any danger of tsunamis. We are stocked up on water, calorie mates, Pringles, and chocolate, and our official “evacuation shelter,” the local elementary school, is a two minute walk from our place, should we need to utilize it.
The main earthquake, which was a magnitude 8.9 last I checked, felt like about a 3.5 for us. Check out the map below to see where we’re located in the fray of things. This map was released immediately after the first earthquake, and the magnitude has since been upgraded, but you’ll get the idea:
I was in my office on the third floor of our school when the shaking began. It felt like we were on a large ship, such as one of the big BC Ferries, rocking back and forth on the sea. I actually felt seasick for awhile afterwards, I don’t really know what else to call it. Anyways, the sensei and I all looked around at each other, not saying much beyond nervous laughter, wondering if the rolling sensation was going to stop or get worse. When it did subside we noticed other staff were gathering out front in the parking lot, so as an emergency announcement came over the PA, we hurried downstairs to join them. Thankfully there were no students in the school at the time, otherwise the evacuation would have likely been much more chaotic. We gathered outside for awhile, and eventually filed back in, huddling in the front office to watch the news reports.
There have since been a series of aftershocks, and as you well know if you’ve been watching the news, some pretty serious tsunamis in many areas. Apparently more earthquakes and tsunamis are expected, and for our port city of Yokkaichi flooding is anticipated, although as I said our apartment is towards the mountains and should remain unscathed (by flooding, at least). Accordingly, we’ve canceled our travel plans for the weekend.
I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of what our neighbours to the north have experienced and are experiencing, so I will not ramble on about our mild-in-comparison experiences. We don’t personally know anyone so far in any of the seriously affected regions, but many of our friends and coworkers definitely do, so we are only two degrees separated from many of those affected. That makes those of you reading this three degrees separated from them at the most, so while we appreciate everyone’s concern, please turn your thoughts and prayers to those who need them most!