On march 11th 2011 the earth shifted off the coast of Japan and more then 20,000 people lost their lives.
It was possible that I might have been one of them.
I was living in Tokyo with a friend. He was just starting a relationship, and he wanted the apartment for himself for some time and I was planning a trip. My choices of destinations where the pacific coast north of Tokyo, or the mountains near Nagano to photograph snow monkeys. I wanted to visit the sea, but I had promised my nephew’s partner I would get some snow monkey pictures for her.
So instead of being on the effected sea coast when the fault slipped and a wall of water came racing for the coast of Japan, I was very many miles from the sea.
The earthquake itself was a surreal experience for me. I was alone in the woods, on a road that was closed for the winter. It was the most alone I had been in Japan, and I was enjoying the solitude when the mountains around my started moaning and groaning. I was unaware of what was happening.
When I returned to my hotel, my normally jovial hosts looked very solemn. Through their broken English they said their had been an quake. I remember their children where watching TV, and when it started to show pictures of the tsunami, they turned it off.
I really had no idea of what was happening, until I started the Internet in my room. After sending an email to my parents letting them know I was alright, I tried contacting friends in Tokyo.
I had to stay an extra day in the hotel, the trains were not running.
The Tokyo I returned to was not the city I had left. The earthquake and tsunami had knocked out so many electrical stations that there were power shortages. Tokyo is illuminated by billboards and signs…these were turned off. Tokyo was a dark city.
And there was the fear. For the next month there were, on average 2 or 3 quakes a day. ( for an idea of what was happening go to http://www.japanquakemap.com/ click on since march 11 at the top and let it run for a few minutes……)
As bad as the disaster was, everyone was concerned about the nuclear problems developing up the coast. Everyone I talked to asked the same question…what are you going to do?
Some of my friends left Japan, some moved further south. I stayed in Tokyo, spending most of my time huddled under blankets,( we had electric heat) reading all I could find on the Internet. I now know more about Japanese nuclear plants, and how they work then I ever thought I would need to know.
I had a bag packed, and my route(s) planned if I had to move but I felt the best place for me was where I was.
There were times I almost left ( Tokyo, not Japan) but I didn’t.
So what did I learn from this?
I have a deeper respect for the Japanese beliefs and culture.
I have a deeper distrust of the media.
I have a greater application of the power of the Internet.
And I have a better understanding of who I am.
here are some blog posts from this period.
Earthquake March 11
Why am I still here March 14
Today Wednesday Evening march 16
Taking Stock March 17th
Mercy or Art imitating life..march 15
mercy part 2 march 28th
ok what’s next..march 24th