journal

day 5, tuesday march 15th

since the earthquake, tokyo had been having many aftershocks, threats of rolling blackouts (later implemented), reduced train service, and as i understand it a bit of disruption to daily life. i had invited a few friends (a childhood family friend and her husband) who had come to tokyo just the month before to come stay with me in kyoto where it was calmer. they took the overnight bus, and arrived in kyoto early on tuesday morning. they had been living in an international house in tokyo, with a mix of foreigners and japanese, and there were some mixed opinions about what to do, some people leaving. several nights staying up in front of the tv to watch for the earthquake warnings.

i think that morning was maybe the 3rd day for me of staying up late glued to the tv/internet, and getting up early. this pattern was to continue for a few more days.

the week before, when i was in china, my professor had discussed the possibility of a last minute trip to new zealand with some other professors, to survey the damage of the christchurch earthquake. on tuesday, and as i expected, they decided to cancel the trip. everyone related to disaster and recovery was obviously very busy and focusing on tohoku. there had been a separate conference about lessons from disasters scheduled for friday that was also cancelled, along with the meetings that i would have had related to it. i was a little relieved with everything going on to have a few less things.

we had a little break from thinking about the unfolding disaster. had lunch at the japanese family restaurant near my apt., then had the pleasure of introducing my friends to muji (one of my favorite stores in japan). they were sold of out batteries and gas canisters for cooking stoves (not that we needed these things, but it was a sign that people were buying them up, even in kyoto).

we had a nice coffee, but i felt the need to come home pretty soon to check the news. somehow i didn’t want to be far away from my house for too long.

that night we stayed in, and stayed up much too late drinking sake and playing cards. i think we were all a little on edge, and trying to make the best of a tense and uncertain situation. as i was already exhausted, it was nice to have other folks around to talk about what was going on, try to figure out what might happen, what we should do, etc.

About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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