Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 11th Japan Earthquake

So you all know about the horrible natural disaster in Japan. Thankfully I live in Tokyo and only had to deal with 5.7 earthquake. During the Earthquake I was teaching a lesson to a group of 3 year olds in a prestige department story east of Tokyo. At first I didn't realize it was an earthquake but one of the Children's mother mentioned it. We thought it would stop but it just got worse. We could hear the 4 large, 8 feet glass windows banging, toys and books started to fall off the shelf and my stomach started to feel like I had just done the loop-de-loop on a roller coaster, or bad turbulence on a plane. We went out to the hallway and sat in the doorframe and has our bags and items ready to dash down the 6 flights to go outside if we had to. One of the children's mom wasn't doing too well and was sick and dashed off to the washroom right after the earthquake, so I spent my time holding little Rio and telling her she was such a good girl, and doing great, as well as reassuring the other students. There were tables set up outside because we were doing sales for our school, so we all gathered around the tables, and as the 2nd big earthquake hit we all dashed to hid under the tables as the building because to shake once again.

After the first large earthquake I spent the time with my students and parents and trying to keep them calm and reassuring them. I was feeling sick, my hands wouldn't stop shaking, but I held it together for the kids. I did end up calling my mother using skype on my iPhone to tell her I was ok and I love her, must have been a big shock to hear from me at 230am. After the second large earthquake hit, we hid again under tables. We spent the next hour riding out the aftershocks playing with toys and crayons under the table as the department staff provided free water, tea and candy. When the students left we cleaned up the class and had to figure a way home. Usually by train it takes 30-40 mins to get home. But trains were all stopped and traffic was congested. Taxis were near impossible to get and traffic was bumper to bumper. With no train service, and most of buildings and shops were closed, people crowded the streets and most decided to walk home. So that's what I did. I walked home. Merging in with all the people, many wearing helmet. I made friends with a wandering foreigner, who I noticed was caring a map and asked him where he was going and realized we were going the same way, and together we walked towards shinjuku which took 3 hours. Finally at the end it took 3.5 hours to get home. Usually if I walked home it would take me 2 and a bit more to get home, but the streets were so crowded with people.

I arrived home to some books and items tossed on the floor, but no damage. My friends have at most found their way home safely or were stuck at cafes or net cafes until they are able to get home. I spent the night in a light sleep, waking up every once and a while as large 5M aftershocks shook my room. Even up to now we are getting large aftershocks. They said we will get them until a month after. But the real disaster is the nuclear reactor up in Fukushima. I keep getting worried emails from family and friends on twitter and facebook and here. thanks so much for all your worry. I got an email from my moms boyfriend saying I should come home as soon as possible because if the nuclear reactor goes it's going to be horrible. But Tokyo is 160 Miles away from it. So it should be ok. I'm hoping anyway. My nerves are already on the edge from all the aftershocks. 

The day after in Tokyo was somewhat normal. By mid afternoon most trains were working, so I adventured out and got lunch and went to Ikebukuro to do a bit of shopping, the streets were pretty bare, most shops were closed, though restaurants and convenience stores were going, karaoke, pachinko, movie theaters were all open as well. Most clothing shops were closed.  Any grocery store you went to most dry foods and frozen foods were gone, people stocking up just in case. All breads and lunch boxes and sandwiches were cleared out. My hopes and prayers are with those up in Fukushima.
People crowd the streets, trains were all shut down.

Everywhere you look, all you see on the news was the earthquake

In shinjuku some old buildings were affected by the earthquake.

Traffic and streets are crowded in tokyo

Everywhere you could see people wearing helmets and emergency earthquake bags.

People walking home as the trains were all down.

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