Earthquake in Japan

As you might already heard by now or seen in television, a massive earthquake measuring at an intensity of 8.9 on the Richter scale hit the northeastern part of Japan (red circle on the map below) triggering a 10 meter high tsunami that literally swept the coastal towns.

japan map

It was unbelievable to see the devastation on TV. It felt like watching an ‘end of the world’ themed movie. I wish it was fiction but it was real and it was raw. I could not imagine the effect of the quake and the waves to the people living in the affected town. It is hard to imagine. I immediately thought of family and friends back home and called them.

All the phone lines are dead.

M’s family, my in-laws are living on the other side of the country, in Niigata Prefecture (in pink arrow) so they are safe. My brother, however, was on the Pacific side (in blue arrow) – he was in his office in Yokohama when the quake struck at 2:46 pm Friday, March 11, 2011. I learned later once I got in contact with him was that although he was about 300 kilometers away, south of the epicenter, the buildings shook and panic enveloped the city. All train operations stopped so everyone was forced to take shelter and wait out. He couldn’t call his wife or check on his baby at home. All the phones were dead.

People started going out on foot, hoping to get home but most of the city workers live in the suburbs and a 4 hour walk wouldn’t be enough! My brother finally got on the train at dawn when the public transport system resumed.

*****

I’ve lived in Japan for more than 10 years and pretty used to quakes occurring every now and then. I remember the first earthquake I felt in 1996, just weeks after I got there. It was 4 am and the dormitory shook. It was as if I was sleeping in a hammock and being rocked to sleep – only, it wasn’t a hammock but a sturdy bed, shaking. I ran outside only to find out I was ALONE. No one bothered to go out as the quake stopped in only after a few seconds. I asked around when morning came and everybody just shrugged their shoulders.

Everyone is so used to quakes that they sleep through it!

Since then, I’ve become used to it that mild quakes don’t scare me anymore. And they do come very frequently in seismically active Japan.

But this recent earthquake is different. The magnitude is so great that it’s impossible to ignore it. And I am glad people chose to act – evacuate and seek shelter or the death toll could’ve been worse.

Lastly, there’s no country in the world like Japan that could be more prepared in natural calamities like this. I know they will be bouncing back like how the city of Kobe did. But the emotional scars of people who lost their loved ones and friends will take a longer time to heal.

11 thoughts on “Earthquake in Japan

  1. I bet your husband will be happy when he can speak to his family. Even though they are far away, it is still reassuring to speak to everyone after something so horrendous!

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  2. Grace, I am a fine example of someone who got used to earthquakes here in Japan that I sleep through most of the “regular” quakes. This is why, I refused to fall asleep Friday night after the big quake. 🙂

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  3. I often read your blog but don’t post. I’ve been wondering about your family and am glad to hear they are ok. Thinking of you and all the people in Japan. It’s just shocking.

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  4. I, too am a regular ‘reader’, and wondered about yr family in Japan – it’s great that they’re all ok! I was horrified tohear about the Nuclear Power plant after the recent earthquake & Tsunami – I can’t imagine what the threat of exposure meant to those adults who lived through World War II – Prayers are going up all over the world for the people of Japan!!!

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  5. Oh, Grace, I am so thankful that your family and relatives in Japan are OK. I am so sad, though, for those who died, and those who lost loved ones. Your blog post was helpful.

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  6. Great news your family is safe. Though Japan has a lot of quakes it seems this came out of nowhere. Thanks for posting the map so we can understand where the epicenter was in relation to other cities. We haven’t had a real big quake in years but we are due for one in California. And I’m lucky (crazy) to live on a fault line.

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  7. I knew that Japan has lots of earthquakes but this was really big. It just goes to show that nature can harbor life but also take it.

    I hope they can surpass this problem and get back on their feet as they always do.

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  8. Hi – looking for some information about the Japanese community here in Dubai for a fundraiser for the recent devastation. Would you be able to send me an email so I can send over some questions?

    Thanks!

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