As the world knows, there was a massive earthquake on Friday off the northeast coast of Japan. There are no words for the shock caused by this, and the awe in the power of mother nature. Even though I’m in Osaka, several hundred kilometers away, I felt this earthquake, while on the 8th floor of the office building that I work in. The building started swaying slightly, and people were just laughing it off. Then a worker who was on the phone with the Tokyo office said “Tokyo’s shaking bad” At this point, people stopped laughing. Then, “There’s a massive earthquake in Sendai!” and the swaying started to get worse. Woman started screaming, and grabbing their emergency helmets and getting under their desks. Ironically, we had just had our fire/earthquake drill on Wednesday, and so what to do was fresh on our minds.
I headed back to the 3rd floor, where I work. I didn’t use the elevators.
The 3rd floor was shaking, but not as bad as the sway felt on the upper floors. Pulling up Yahoo and CNN, people started realizing how bad this was. We couldn’t get a hold of offices north of Tokyo, the trains are out in the Kanto region, and then there is the video of walls of water washing away houses, cars, boats, and most likely in all that liquid, people. I thought about my wife, who was at home, on the top floor of our ten story building and called. I couldn’t get through. I called our home phone, and no one picked up. Thankfully she got back to me within the hour. She had simply gone to the dentist, and hadn’t even felt the quake.
We try to continue with our work, but no one can focus. I get pulled in to write up an emergency announcement in English to be broadcast to our Osaka offices informing employees to check public transportation before going home because of the earthquake. My manager, who goes home each weekend to his family in Yokohama, realizes they’ve stopped the bullet trains and he can’t go home.
I think to myself, I’m suppose to be in Tokyo on Tuesday next week. I was going to be in Yokohama on Thursday and Friday next week. Saturday, GaiGun and I were planning to meet up for our monthly drinking in Akiba. And I think, if this earthquake would have happened this time next week, I’d be right in the middle of Tokyo.
I came home Friday night to do what the rest of the nation was doing, sitting in front of their televisions, watching the images of what happened hours previously. It was on every channel. There was nothing else to watch, but the shock and awe. And Saturday too. Sunday as well. Yet, for west Japan, life outside is simply that, regular life. It’s so depressing to see nothing but the news and video, and the rising death toll. Currently the missing and dead total over 3,400 people. Yet there are reports that this will top 10,000 people easily. So we went out today to the movies. And yes, life goes on, because it seems like everyone in Osaka was out today. And I can guess why. Who wants to sit at home and watch death and destruction? Yet that too, is going to be part of regular life now for Japan for the next day, weeks, months, and most likely years.
I realize that this is just depressing, sad and that I have only felt this way twice in my life. The passing of my mother, and the day the twin towers collapsed. Despite being hundreds of kilometers away from the affected areas, it’s still a part of the country that I live and work in. And I feel nothing but shock, and awe.
At this point, I’m really not in the mood to post about Gunpla, so my apologies for the lack of posts on that. Eventually I’ll get back into it.
For an even more first hand account, I recommend that everyone read GaiGun’s post about the day of the quake.
Some amazing, and saddening shots of the earthquake and it’s aftermath can be seen below.
In Focus – Earthquake in Japan
In Focus – The Aftermath
Information and Donations.
Google Crisis Response (with link to donate to the Japanese Red Cross)
GAF Quake Appeal – Gunplars unite