A small part of Tokyo from the top floor of the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. May 2010

+ Please see various updates below.   +

A friend Tweeted that the Shinagawa Prince, where I and a group of MBA Students stayed last May, had run out of blankets for commuters stranded in Tokyo when the train lines were shut down following today’s (March 11, 2011) 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Honshu Island, above Tokyo.  You see, the Shinagawa Prince is next to Shinagawa Station, where several train lines converge, including the major North-South Shinkansen (“Bullet Train”) line and the Yamanote Loop Line that circles Tokyo.

Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, the city in Miyagi prefecture, or state, closest to the epicenter. Another 110 were confirmed killed, with 350 people missing. Police also said 544 people were injured. AP Wire Story

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I have a business trip to Japan planned a little less than 5 weeks.  I look all the more forward to being there, seeing friends and carrying on with life in Japan.

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Sunday Morning (in Japan) update:  Very Sobering-but-Calm, Matter-of-Fact Blog Update from Friend in Tokyo

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Sunday Morning Great LA Times article:  Japan’s Massive Earthquake Has Little Effect on Culture’s Impeccable Manners

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Saturday a.m. Update:

The death toll is likely to surpass 1,000 as about 1,800 houses in Fukushima Prefecture were found to have been devastated, according to the Defense Ministry.

According to a National Police Agency tally as of 5:40 a.m. Saturday, at least 184 people were killed and 708 others were missing as a result of the magnitude 8.8 temblor.

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11:00 a.m. U.S. Central Time (12 March 2011) / 2:00 a.m. 13 March in Japan:  over 1,000 confirmed fatalities.

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Sat late a.m. Email (excerpts) from a Japanese friend living in Huntsville, Alabama

Now, I get good news from my sister.  She got information from nieces about my brother and his wife  [ in Sendai ]  are safe.

It is thanks to you [various friends] that I can find out my family and relatives and also my wife’s, all came through the event unscathed.

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U.S.G.S. Map of the Northeast Honshu Earthquake

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More on the Friday afternoon/night train shutdowns affect on Tokyo-ites and travelers:

Crowds of people gathered at JR Shinagawa Station in Minato Ward in the evening, pondering how to get home after JR East announced it was canceling all train services for the day after strong aftershocks hit the metropolis.

Tokyo Metro Subway lines were also out of commission as of Friday evening.

Long lines formed at convenience stores and fast-food restaurants near Shinagawa Station as people tried to stock up on food and beverages, either to spend the night at their office, or in preparation for a long walk home.

A friend with the Hitachi corporation’s U.S. representative’s office told me by telephone that employees in the company’s Tokyo Headquarters (a large building near Tokyo Station) virtually all slept in the office building last night as they had no way to get to back to their homes.

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More Saturday Morning Update: One of those I follow on Twitter is a quirky, kind-hearted Tokyo hotel/hostel called Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Hotel.  (“Delightful, International, and Fundamental Hotel in Tokyo”).  I’m not sure who does the “tweeting” for Sakura Hotel, but they have this charming, simple, style of English composition.

Here are two (within the past several minutes) tweets from Sakura Hotel (@ikebukuro_hotel)

ikebukuro_hotel 8:51am via HootSuite

Don’t worry, Tokyo is OK.

ikebukuro_hotel 8:53am via HootSuite

You will see the rainbow after raining.

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Last November a ~6.9 magnitude quake shook Tokyo.  “Earthquake” in Japanese is “Jishin” (地震).

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  1. I thought of you right away when I saw this this morning. Hope all of your friends are out of harm’s way.

      • letsjapan
      • March 11th, 2011

      Thanks, Melissa. Yes. Think so. But Hitachi, Birmingham’s Sister City, is situated on the East Coast, northeast of Tokyo and southwest of the quake’s epicenter. Checking on things there.

      Thank you again. I’m now more eager than ever to get over there next month.


  2. Have to say that I could hardly concetrate at work today. Even though I havent been to Japan yet my heart ached terribly much for the culture and country of my dreams. Thoose friends I have gotten through the net are all allright even though some of them have witnessed and survived terrible things through this disaster.

    I hope that the numbers of injured and dead people will not rise to high and my heart goes out to everyone over there int eh land of dreams.

      • letsjapan
      • March 11th, 2011

      You’re there in spirit, as are so many millions from around the world.


    • Trial Lawyer Richard
    • March 11th, 2011

    BenGoshi: I thought of you when I heard of the Quake in Japan. My heart goes out to all those people in the Quake zone. It is a real tragedy.

      • letsjapan
      • March 11th, 2011

      Thank you. That means a lot to me, hearing from you. Really.

      The Other TL Richard.

    • JaxDem
    • March 12th, 2011

    With each update I read, my thoughts always return to you. You can provide such a unique perspective for us. I know you are anxious to return and survey the damage for yourself.

    Heartsick and holding good thoughts for Japan.

      • letsjapan
      • March 12th, 2011

      Dear JaxDem,

      Thank you so much. I’ve a business trip to Japan planned to start 5 weeks from now. The U.S. corporate client’s a little concerned, but it’s leadership has never been to Japan before so doesn’t really realize the “British-style” “stiff upper lippedness” of the Japanese.

      Very tough days lie ahead, but the gov’t response to this disaster seems to be a lot more on-the-ball than that in the wake of the Hanshin (Kobe/Osaka area) Quake of 1995.

      I’ve discovered that Twitter is tailor-made for this kind of event/disaster. I’m keeping up with friends and friends of friend and friends of friends of friends, etc., all over Japan. “Tweeting” and “Re-Tweeting” news and updates.

      Thanks again JD,


  3. Richard, so true when it comes to Twitter. Getting most of my news on people over there from my second twitter account. Atleast it seems that people are eager to tell everyone that they are okey. Its just heart breaking every time I see anything from a friend of a friend and so on, missing a family member still or yet another friend not being found. Luckely the atomic reactors are stabilized now so that there would not be a third disaster. That would have broken a lot of hearts to the ground I would say.

    It is amazing how fast and hard the Japanese community seem to react to the disaster though. Everywhere I read and in every stream I look, the Japanese community as whole seems to be working like a well oiled machinery and doing everything they can. Even those that are stuck and can not get home seem all to know exactly where to head to stay or wait for transportation to start working. It is amazing in all this disaster that it still seems to be working so well. If only rest of the world could behave like that as well.

    The old people at my work are all terrified at such disaster happening, even though it is on the other side of the earth. It makes my heart cry even more when they have a need of talking about it non stop when I am at work, since they know I have friends over there. But even they are worried for the small children loosing there families and being lost.

      • letsjapan
      • March 12th, 2011


      As I allude to above, the government was sharply criticized for its (slow and uncoordinated) reaction and response to the 1995 Hanshin Quake (the official death toll in that was over 6,400). So I think it’s done a lot of planning over the past 15+ years and is trying to demonstrate that it can, indeed, competently manage a major disaster, tragedy.

      I think the Japanese and British share a resilient attitude; Japan as in situations like this, the British, those Londoners, during the Battle of Britian, the Blitz.

      Be Concerned, Grieve, then Move On and Get to Work.

      “Stiff upper lip,” and all that. Americans have many positive traits, but the Japanese and the British are much more blessed with such stoic focus than are my fellow Americans.


      • It is the “stiff upper lip” that I admire in teh Japanese, and as you are saying the English has it too. No matter what happens, you get up and get to work to amek sure everythign gets moving along again. A wonderfull strong people indead.

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