Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11 Tokyo Earthquake

At 3 this afternoon as I write this (it's now 6:30 PM, Friday, March 11; edit: - making small corrections Saturday morning before posting this) the Tokyo/Kanagawa area got hit with a major earthquake that lasted well over a full minute. I've been through small quakes before, and usually I just kind of sit in place and wait to see what happens. Mostly they're so mild that no one else notices them. I had been in one quake back in 1994, when I was working in a video game company up on the 9th floor of the office building, that was strong enough to send one of the office women scrambling under a table in tears. But this one really scared me. My apartment is at the top of a 14-story building, and the shaking threw stuff all over the floor.

Broken dishes, spilled drinks, toppled computer monitors, etc. The flat panel TV was knocked over and now it doesn't work anymore (we're going to have it looked at by the shop this weekend, I hope). Our apartment actually lost power, apparently because the quake managed to physically trip the main breaker. It's taken close to 3 hours for phone service (both land and cell) to be restored. Without power, and no phone, there was no way to get information about the severity of the quake. Because I could still feel aftershocks, I insisted that we go outside and away from the building in case we started getting falling glass or fires. At ground level, the aftershocks were much less noticeable, but you could see the traffic signals waving around on their cables, and people kept stopping near the police box to complain that the shocks weren't stopping.

Funny enough, most stores remained open. The trains have all stopped running, and my building didn't restart elevator service until around 8 PM. There's a small electrics store across the street from my building, so I bought a battery-powered AM/FM radio. I can't get any AM reception at all, but the first FM station I found had non-stop announcements on the quakes. Seems there were four quakes together, and the fires out at the Odaiba amusement center are still burning.

As of 4:30 AM there were STILL aftershocks.

The apartment needs cleaning enough now that instead of eating fresh fish for dinner tonight that we're going to have to eat out. I'm looking forward to eating okonomiyaki and drinking beer. And I have no idea if the trains will be running again for me to go to work tomorrow morning.


Chris Belcher said...

It is good to hear that the worse to happen was only to your TV. I hope the best for you.


TSOTE said...

Thanks. Yeah, we were lucky.

Shiroibara said...

I'm glad to hear you all are okay. I would love to hear more if you're willing to share tomorrow. My prayers are with you.

lbkwan07 said...
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SyunFung said...


Good to hear you are okay over there. Many of us overseas are rather concerned for y'all, and I'm glad that you escaped with a broken TV. Here's to hoping that the aftereffects stop soon so y'all can recover.

bartman905 said...

Happy to hear that you are safe. Thanks for sharing your experience and the pictures.

Our thoughts and prayers to all those who died and are missing.

TSOTE said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Shiroibara, not a whole more to add regarding our area. The gas regulator for the apartment also tripped closed yesterday, so no hot water until the maintenance people came by this morning to turn it back on. Still cleaning up the stuff that was thrown to the floor. TV looks like it's going to need full repairs, but it might just be a loose circuit board.

The actual shock from the main quake was severe enough in the apartment that I had to brace myself in the hallway, and I was afraid that it was going to get out of hand very quickly very soon. Fortunately I was wrong. Just now, though, there was a little bit of jiggling in the apartment, so we're still getting small aftershocks, but this one was almost unnoticeable.

I did go into the office today - trains are running erratically and at about half-speed, but I still got in in about 90 minutes (normal is 1 hour). None of the other English teachers bothered coming in, and the few Japanese workers that normally show up on Saturdays turned around and went back home at noon. Elevators in the office building were running fine, but I noticed some dust buildup at the base of one of the walls where the drywall panels rubbed against themselves during the shaking. I closed out all of the open lessons the students had booked and returned home again. It's now 3 PM, and not much to do around the apartment except more cleaning. (That and I'm still writing up summaries of the Geobreeders manga I bought this week.)