The Great East Japan Earthquake / 東日本大震災

I had just finished my last class with 5-2 class. We were doing a bit of question time. The class was meant to end at 2:40, but the kids had lots of questions, so we kept going. We’d just finished, and I was on my way out the door, when the quake started.

There had been a sizable quake on Wednesday, and the teacher and I thought it would be about the same. Once it was clear it wasn’t a wee thing, we told the kids to get under the desks, and the teacher and I went to the hall, as we had no desk. We kept standing until about 30 seconds in, I guess, when it (1) became clear it wasn’t ending and (2) it picked up enough that we couldn’t stand. We sat in the doorway to the classroom, calling to the kids, 大丈夫よ!It’s okay! You’ll be okay! Stay under your desks, and you’ll be okay. Of course, between calling this, we were looking at each other, commenting on how long it was, and generally being pretty scared.

Once it stopped, and the announcement came to escape, we got up and headed down the stairs. There was an aftershock as we were escaping, resulting in shouts of SIT DOWN, SIT DOWN UNTIL IT ENDS.

Even though I had seen how violent the quake was, and how everything was a mess, I still thought, somehow, that outside would be pretty normal.  It wasn’t. There were cracks in the ground, puddles where low-grade liquifaction had happened, etc.  It wasn’t what I was expecting. This was a proper fucking quake.

Staff Room

Cracks

Sinkholeishness

Ground shift

The clock fell over. Lucky it stayed up there.

Statue base askew.

Cracks

broken asphalt

how much my car shifted during the main quake

One of many collapsed walls in town.

I suppose I should say that, in Tochigi, though it was strong (a Shindo 6 Upper), it was nothing compared to what was felt in Fukushima and Miyagi.

Out on the field, we crouched and waited. Once it had stopped shaking, I headed to my car and go home, but not before a group of my 6th grade students insisted I take an Earthquake Commemoration Photo.

Got in my car, and tried to drive home. Was dodgy. Lots of downed walls, lots of not-quite-down power lines.

There are a couple of garages completely collapsed here and there, really slipshod things constructed out of cinder blocks and that’s it.

There was no power, but there was some water, so I filled the bathtub with water.  Turned gas off. Went to my car to charge my phone and listen to the radio. There was no cell phone service. I went upstairs to get my drink on, because fucking hell I needed a drink. Drank too much, puked, came back to my apartment and passed out for a few hours.

Got up, drove to Utsunomiya. Bought gas, but just enough to fill my car. Everyone else was hoarding it like mad. I’m trying to not be a bigger burden on the local region than I have to be. Went to a 7-11 that was open, bought some food, filled my face. Sat in the parking lot for hours, couldn’t relax, heart was racing. Decided to head back here to Takanezawa to see how things were. Water was still off, but power was back. I couldn’t handle being here, so I packed some shit in the car, and headed back to Utsunomiya, checked into a hotel, had a fairly good sleep.

This morning, got up around 6, watched TV, checked twitter. Checked out, came home. Stopped at supermarket. Not a lot left, but picked up some dried goods, some just-cooked food, some candles, etc. Pocari Sweat and Ion Water. Came home. Turned on the TV, hooked phone to the wall to stay charged, started cleaning. Several times my phone warned me of incoming tremors, and I’d check to see how strong it was gonna be. Usually Shindo 2, so I kept on.

My apartment is clean now. I went and bought some more dry foods. Only restaurant in town open was a pizza place, so I ordered pizza. I can keep that in the fridge for a while, it’ll be fine even if power goes off, so that’ll help me save my dry goods.

Relaxing now, as much as I can. My lower back and my thighs are killing me. Dunno why. There was just another sizable aftershock. There are going to be 3hr rolling blackouts starting at 6:20am tmrw. I dunno when I’ll be affected, the list isn’t up yet, and the TEPCO site is overwhelmed. Taxes are going to go up. People keep telling me that I can stay with them if I go back to Canada. I appreciate that, but I’m not ready to run away yet. Here in Tochigi, it’s not that bad. I may feel differently if I’d been in a tsunami afflicted portion of Miyagi or Iwate, but here, now? I’m not gonna run away.

If you haven’t already, please make a donation to the Red Cross, and tell others to do so too. This isn’t something that’s going to go away overnight; this is going to be a long, difficult road back to normality.