One Month Later

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Disaster, Family and Friends, Life in general, Rants and Raves

Its been just over a month since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami shook Japan and claimed over 13,000 lives (and counting.)   Although almost everything is back to normal in terms of transportation and electricity, life in Japan has changed quite a bit since.  The Japanese government is claiming that they have removed and destroyed contaminated crops and livestock, people are very cautious about buying anything produced in the northern areas of Honshu (the main island) due to the spreading of the radiation.

Supplies are slowly returning to the stores; it’s still a bit difficult to find 2 liter bottles of water in my area because people are still hoarding despite the number of messages from the government and ad councils telling people to be more considerate and only but what they need.  My local liquor store always seem to be in supply of water because they have a 2 bottle per family per day limit, which is very smart, although they must have a hard time controlling that.  If people have the strong desire to hoard, they’ll find some way to do it despite the local policies and restrictions.

Electricity has been on constantly in my area (knock wood), but that could easily change when the summer heat hits and people start using more electricity to cool their homes.  I conscientiously try to limit my use of power around the house.  I even contemplated shutting down this blog server, but decided to keep it up and running because it has been a very effective means of communicating to my family, friends, and relatives who read it.    Internet has been the only reliable means of communication during times like this, as mobile networks and land lines tend to easily get flooded by people frantically trying to get through to people in earthquake stricken areas.  As long as electricity stays up, I should be able to communicate to the outside.

As for the radiation, so far it has only effected us a minimal level.  As I mentioned earlier, people are being more cautious about where their food comes from and not drinking from tap water whenever possible.  The Japanese government is now saying that the power plants could take several months to a year to deactivate, which means that it could (probably will) continue to spew harmful radiation into the ocean and atmosphere.    Although thoughts of permanently leaving Japan has crossed my mind, it is a lot easier said than done, because I am so deep rooted here.  It would take take a lot of time and effort for me to relocate elsewhere….time and effort that I am not quite ready to commit just yet.

It’ll be a very long time before we are fully recovered.

A Small Sense of Normality

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Disaster, Life in general, Rants and Raves

Its been 17 days since the big earthquake, and there have been literally hundreds of subsequent earthquakes since.  We even had an earthquake early this morning, but of course it was no where close to be being as bad as the one on March 11th.   Sometimes I feel the building shaking even when the building isn’t shaking.  Even little rattle, every little sway makes me think we’re having another earthquake.  But even with all of this, I feel that a small sense of normality is returning.

I no longer have to take taxis and the bullet train to work (although I did kind of enjoyed that).  I am able to find small bottles of water here and there, and there is no real shortage of food.   My area doesn’t seem to be too effected by the schedule power outs.  Although I am grateful to have electricity on tap 24/7 (or at least when I am at home),  I would be more than happy to do with out if it meant that it would help someone else out.  Right now, I only use the dining room lights with a single LED light bulb to conserve electricity.

The hoarding and the glutenous behavior still continues, which saddens me.  I wish that people would realize that there are people and small who rely on stuff like fresh uncontaminated water, yet they still buy water and milk by the case, and I still see empty shelves at the supermarket.

But the one thing that makes me sick the most is the whole Tokyo Dome fiasco.  For those who don’t know, Tokyo dome is a huge indoor sports arena located in Tokyo.  It is often used to host night events like big sporting events and concerts.  The Tokyo Yomiuri Giants baseball team was suppose to have their opening night game there this week, but several people as well as government officials protested that they should really consider canceling in consideration of the current power outage situation.  However league owners say that they will only merely postpone the game, and will eventually hold an indoor game with full lighting sometime within the next few weeks.  I don’t understand why there is a need to have a night game in an indoor arena.  Baseball is an outdoor sport that is intended to be played during the day.  And guess what?  If you have the game at an outdoor stadium, or even in a plane Jane ball park, people will come!

I don’t think these people will ever understand unless their electricity is shut off for several hours day..sad and childish indeed!


In the Midst of Chaos

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Disaster, Life in general, Rants and Raves

It”s been crazy, to say the least. It’s amazing how one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, can become a third world nation overnight. No food or water at the stores, long lines to get supplies, power rationing and scheduled outages, no gas, public transportation crippled during peak hours, and bone shaking aftershocks in the middle of the night currently sums up the situation now.

Japan has gotten a lot of praises for being a nation of model citizens in times like these because there has been no violent crimes or looting, which usually takes place after major disasters like this. As a matter fact, there have been reports of vending machine owners opening up machines and handing out free drinks to people to help out. For the most part, I agree that Japan is a very admirable nation in that respect. However, there is one thing that Japan is extremely guilty of which is really starting to affect the many, and that is hoarding.

Within 12 hours of the first M9.0 earthquake, it became absolutely impossible find bottled water ANYWHERE.  It’s wasn’t as if buildings crumbled  and that the water was shut off (at least not in my area), and yet people here felt compelled to run to the super market and hoard.  I agree that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is important to reasonably stock “enough” food and water so that you can survive a week or two, but there are bounds of reasons for everything.  Buying out whole shelves of milk for example is completely illogical and irrational.  Milk is a perishable food that cannot be stored for long periods of time, so whoever decided to stock milk is a complete idiot and just made it difficult for everyone else who really needs it.

In addition to food and water, people are also hoarding fuel.  This has caused public transportation to stop or limit their services in may areas.  What really makes me upset about this, is not only the fact that people are taking more than they need, but they needless waste it.  Case in point, on the way to the airport yesterday to pick up family, I was overtaken by so many people needless speeding (going speeds exceeding 130km/hr) when they should be conserving fuel.  Another case in point. one of those cars that overtook me was a Lamborghini Diablo.  REALLY? a Lamborghini during a time when people are lining up 2 to 3 hours to get gas…REALLY??   Some people just don’t get the graveness of this situation.

Transportation has been steadily getting worse, because the company that owns the troubled nuclear power station in Fukushima prefecture, started rationing power to different areas of the country, while other areas are left completely without power for 3 hour blocks.  Being a very power hungry nation, Japan highly depends on electric power to run its vast network of commuter trains.  Without these trains, the nation is pretty much crippled. People are unable to get to work or home, traffic lights cease to function cause mass gridlock on the roads, and homes are without heat and electricity for several hours at a time.

Luckily for me, I live in an area which seems to be exempt for the schedule outages.  I am not sure what the reasoning behind this is, but I am not complaining.  Some have speculated that its because there’s a large community of senior citizens in this area, including senior citizen homes, so a three hour outage may cause too much grief and hard-aches among the elderly.

Unluckily for me, I depend on the bus system to take me to the station every morning, and this morning I found a sign at the bus stop saying that they were limiting service from today.  I had no choice bu to take a taxi to the station everyday last week.  Admittedly, it was pretty nice to be able to take a taxi to the train station and then the bullet to Tokyo where I work, but I would  trade that just to regain a sense of normality.