If I had a quarter for every aftershock…

My twin sister currently lives in Tokyo and this is her most recent email.

Konnichiwa Everyone,

Apologies for the silence on this end; it is difficult to gauge the true status of things, and I am not particularly interested in unnecessarily filling heads–my own included–with worrying remarks.

On early Friday afternoon (your laaaate Thursday night/wee hours Friday), I was at a conference in Nagoya (250km from home, 550km from earthquake epicenter) and rode out the earthquake in the lecture hall of a very modern building. Basically ALL trains stopped on Honshu and I was unable to return home, but able to contact a former frisbee teammate and stay with her. Luckily, I had planned to go straight from the conference to a frisbee tournament, so had toiletries and changes of clothes with me. 

Since I was just an hour’s trip from my old home even further west, I dropped in on friends there and spent Saturday and Sunday with them, returning in the evening to Tokyo. Our first planned black-out was to happen for 4 hours Monday morning, the second in the afternoon. They did not happen, but the schedule has been revised, and my town will be black from 3 pm until 10 pm today. I’ve already got dinner ready, toilet and drinking water set aside, charged cell-phone with Twitter feed, head-lamp & batteries and plenty of warm stuff. While it is a nice idea that Narita and Haneda airports are operational, with the rolling black-outs, stopped train lines, stopped traffic & fuel shortage, the thought of getting to these places which are on a good day 1.5 hours away is nothing less than a fantasy.

Even though it has been 4 days since the main event, the ground continues to jitter constantly. Sleep is difficult. Most of the time it is obvious and more than once I have dashed to the doorway (which together with the pre-fab concrete & steel stairwell seems to form the most structurally sound part of this place). Sometimes, however, the movements are so faint that this newly-minted 30 year old wonders if she is just experiencing inner-ear problems due to ‘old-age’. I have a backpack with clothes, ID, snacks, etc. ready at the door. At times like these I believe it ok to say ‘to hell with tradition’ and have been guiltily wearing my tennis-shoes indoors. I am not ballsy enough to completely write-off what the neighbors think, though, so do tend to tip-toe.

Early Monday morning, I took care to buy what groceries I could and was surprised to see how bare all the store shelves were. Bare. It’s enough to make a person libertarian. Am glad to not have a family to support. I was able to find rice at the third store I visited, and got the last bag.

Somewhat ironically, attempted delivery of the tent and sleeping bag I’d ordered as ‘back-up’ for the ‘rustic’ home I am moving to in 8 days in Shiga Prefecture was made the day after the earthquake. Given the state of things, I figured it not inappropriate to practice setting it up in my apartment. Quick and easy, but probably a poor defense from radioactive particulates.
I currently live about 235 km from the beleaguered power plants.

I am curious to hear the state of things in the homes of Japanese acquaintances; it has been hard (read: impossible) for me to gauge the level of their own worries.

I’ve found that Twitter has been a helpful way to stay up-to-date. If you search #jishin_e or follow journalist @DanielKahl, you can keep on top of things…or rather, slightly behind them, I guess. While my morale is rather low and stress rather high, there is no doubt that I am comparatively well-off.

Love always,


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