Earthquake Update (15 March). News from Tokyo, and Tochigi…
The Tohoku Earthquake (東北地震). “Tohoku” (東北) means Northeast (or, literally, “East North”). It’s the region of Japan the off-the-coast 9.0 magnitude quake struck, where a terrible tsunami hit and where most of the damage and loss of life is isolated. The city of Sendai, on the coast of Sendai Prefecture, is where one part of the terrible tsunami (津波) struck. You can see Sendai and Japan’s Tohoku Region on the map below (that is, the Northeast part of the main island, Honshu), with Sendai being pretty much in the heart of the Tohoku Resion. I’ve copied and pasted from friend Chris J’s (March 15 updated) blog. Chris lives in the Tokyo suburbs.
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This blog post is really meant to guide you, readers of LetsJapan.Wordpress.Com, to said Tokyo friend, Chris’, blog and its insightful and in-depth updates on the quake: Accidentally a Blog. Chris and I (and many, many others who live or have lived in Japan) have been carrying on a Twitter/Email/Facebook dialog over the past few days with the upshot being that U.S.-based media types are distorting coverage of the earthquake and tsunami.
Here’s an excerpt from Chris’ March 15 update:
“Trash and mail service ran on normal schedule and Yuko published the school newsletter (for which she is currently editor) as planned. Again, like yesterday, we did not lose power during the evening. However we did go into low-power mode as a family during the scheduled block to help save energy. Unlike yesterday, many parts of Tokyo and the surrounding area did have blackouts. I believe these were of shorter duration than the standard three-hour block, but that may vary from location to location. . . . The danger is that ultimately nuclear material in the reactor could melt and seep through the casing into the ground. There is no concern that a nuclear explosion could take place. Tokyo is not in danger of being obliterated by a nuclear event. (As disappointed as media networks may be I am sure.) I do believe that we will have some contamination to the environment from at least partial meltdown but this is not the Armageddon being suggested by foreign media. . . .”
And here’s an excerpt from Chris’ March 14 update:
“[T]he foreign media is painting a picture of apocalypse that would leave those unfamiliar with Japan with the belief that this entire country has been reduced to rubble and we are being picked apart by crows (Though we do have more than our fair share of crows). This scenario is not even remotely close to reality. The fact is that a small area of the main island of Honshu has been decimated by a 9.0 earthquake and — more importantly — the tsunami that arrived nine minutes later….”
More than an indictment of the international media, Chris’ blog, and today’s (March 14, 2011) update provides readers with a real, on-the-ground, walk-through of conditions in Tokyo. Photos and videos are included. Some of it is, indeed, very sobering. Much, though, tells the story of people coping and living their lives in a non-post-apocalyptic Tokyo. I cannot recommend Chris’ blog enough.
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After the recent nuclear plant developments, I have been asked time and again when I am leaving Tochigi. The answer is – I am not leaving.
The morning panic of March 15th is over, things at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima seemed to have stabilized, radiation levels are falling, life goes on, we are staying. Why? Because NOTHING is happening. Really. As hard as it is to believe, and I know the media has you thinking about some sort of end of days scenario, it’s still liveable.
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Here’s a great article from the L.A. Times on Japanese manners and stoicism in the face of hardship. Excerpt:
“She was elderly and alone, injured and in pain. When the massive earthquake struck, a heavy bookshelf toppled onto Hiroko Yamashita, pinning her down and shattering her ankle.
“When paramedics finally reached her, agonizing hours later, Yamashita did what she said any “normal” person would do, her son-in-law recounted later: She apologized to them for the inconvenience, and asked if there weren’t others they should be attending to first.”
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Streaming news from Japan
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If you at least read hiragana (ひらがな), here’s a very good collection of timely vocabulary worth studying (Earthquake-, Tsunami-, Nuclear Energy-related terms).
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