There is no way I can type up everything that I experienced or heard in the last 8 hours. I tried to give you a grasp of what I went through in Tokyo, which is actually remote from the actual epicenter of the earthquake.
Earthquake hits. Epicenter is off shore of Miyagi prefecture, approx. 220 mi. away from Tokyo. The Japanese quake scale hits 7, highest, in northern Miyagi, shaking entire Japan in a certain degree. Tsunami hits the area immediately, washing away houses.
Tokyo is counted for 5- on the scale. Quake started slowly, shaking side to side. After 10 seconds of shaking, I immediately noticed that this is not the usual earthquake. I ran with my phone, wallet and coat, outside the house, to see how my mother was doing in the cafe she is running downstairs. Still shaking, old ladies were supporting each other, and many bottles for display were crashed on the floor.
After what felt like 3 minutes of continued shaking and shocks, I was too afraid to go back upstairs - I was doing everything I can to gather information on my phone. This is the first when I discovered that this was possibly the largest earthquake we have experienced - at least I've never experienced anything like this before. Twitter and mixi were overwhelmed; I decided to put up my first post to facebook, to let the world know what's happening, and to have friends help me calm down. It was way too difficult to contact anyone in Japan; everyone was, very naturally, preoccupied with what had happened to themselves. My way out was facebook.
Mother decides to shut the store for the day. I run back upstairs to see what happened. A glass container had crashed, but that was just about it. My room, jam-packed with CDs, DVDs, books and what-not, was miraculously safe. Everything was either too packed between each other, or too heavy to move and drop.
Post-quake tremor continued; sometimes great, sometimes mellow, never ending. The survivors of the Kobe earthquake in 1994 tweeted that the big aftershock strike usually happens three hours after. In reality, the aftershock itself lasted for approximately that long.
Phone lines were down. We were better off online. Twitter and mixi were the two main sources of making sure that people were safe. I posted on twiter and mixi, but somehow, I was more reliant on facebook.
All public transportation, including airway, were suspended. Even the worst typhoons nor the bad snow days had never impacted ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. Moreover, typhoons and snow days were always expected to a certain degree, and we knew when they were leaving. Livehouses, clubs and bars which I followed announced suspension. However, many announced that they will be open for people who had no way to reach home.
The government announced people not to walk home, but to try to stay in office instead, to avoid confusion and possible dangers in the long walk. What if people were not in office in the first place? Many public buildings, bars and restaurants with minor impact, decided to keep themselves open for those who had no way to get back.
The regions closer to the epicenter were already past sundown. Some of them may not know that there is even a large-scale tsunami warning. I confirmed that one of my friend had made it to a getaway.
I was in total fear, which I never experienced. The room was shaking loosely for three consecutive hours. Two emergency calls came, but neither impacted Tokyo as largely as the initial quake. I warned my mother to make sure she had her belongings close in case of a real emergency. I dashed out at each call, but it only made me end up shaking.
The tremor not only shook me physically, but perhaps more mentally. Some of the aftershocks which were causing the tremor moved its epicenter southward, closer to Tokyo. What if, after everything had calmed down, we get hit with another quake, directly hitting Tokyo?
Again, the epicenter of the initial quake is more than 200 miles away from Tokyo. Yet, virtually the entire city of Tokyo, the capital city and the largest city in Japan, was defunctionalized by this incident. Moreover, 3 casualties were reported - in Tokyo, not anywhere in the Tohoku region.
Finally decided to grab a bite, to calm myself down. At the same time, I posted my third post to facebook. By this time, unless it wasn't my head floating in the air or something, aftershocks had calmed down... until I noticed a short shake while I was typing, and the very moment I hit update, the second emergency call rang.
The larger problem, as of now, is that information from the Tohoku region, the most hard-hit with this quake, are not being reported in the media. Factory plants in Chiba, right East of Tokyo, was burning. The top of the Tokyo Tower is bent. Traffic was a mess, as Japan Railways announced the suspension of its operation for the remainder of the day.
Certain subway lines were resuming. Limited number of international flights have resumed departure, but no arrivals are being accepted in Tokyo. A nuclear plant is being reported at risk of a spillover. Darkness and cold, along with the fear of the tsunami 30 feet high at its highest, is all over the Tohoku region. Fire and explosion is being reported from several plants in Japan.
Just received a call from my Korean ancestor. I haven't spoken to him in many years. He was relieved that my family was safe. A full stomach - thanks to the fact that I live at home - also helps.
But there is no way I can avoid the fear of a possible major aftershock, after what I experienced today. Minor aftershocks are still shaking the room.
Aftermaths and bodies uncalled for are continuing to be reported. Much more are yet to be handled, accounted, or to be noticed in the first place.
I only hope to wake up tomorrow morning in peace.
10:24pm, and ticking...
Once again, thank you. Thank you so much.
Thank you everyone for your love and support.
You don't know how much those comments of just 10 words give or take, helped me and relieved me. I tend to slack on these things, so in fact, I really don't deserve this. But for this once, this unconditional passion has relieved me so much, and words cannot describe how much I appreciate them.
I will add on to my previous statement.
I only hope to wake up tomorrow morning in peace, and as much relief as possible for all who suffered this incident.