Earthquake Update

For those of you who are still worrying (cough Granny cough), here’s an update on the post-earthquake situation in Yamanashi.

The most troubling thing is that everyone is a little on edge.  We’ve felt three or four aftershocks a day, everyday since the earthquake.  Some of them are so gentle that you can only feel them if you are laying down or sitting very still, but some (like the one the happened while writing this paragraph) are strong enough to make the room shake, dishes rattle and pictures sway back and forth on the walls.  It’s rarely dangerous, just unnerving.

I know you’re hearing a lot about the nuclear power plant that is having issues.  Not only is that plant 300 miles away from me, there is also a mountain range between us.  Also, please remember that American news media tend toward sensationalism.  While it is a really dangerous situation, really intelligent and capable people are dealing with it, and there are all sorts of safeguards in place in case sometime does go (more) wrong.

All Yamanashi has working power, but in an effort to conserve energy, Tokyo Electric has issued rolling blackouts for all of the prefectures surrounding Tokyo, to be effected as needed.  Every city has a daily three-hour period when electricity may not be available.  On top of that, everyone is trying to limit their energy usage.  At school, the students and teachers are bringing their own lunches instead of firing up the school kitchen, and none of the heaters are being used (not that they were used much in the first place).  Most businesses are making an effort to use as little energy as possible.  Grocery stores only have half their lights on, and my gym closed the pool instead of heating it.

All food and gasoline transports have been diverted towards the area damaged by the tsunami.  Here, stations are pre-emptively rationing gas to avoid a future shortage.  Customers can only purchase $25’s worth at a time.  I guess people could just fill up partially at one station, then head down the road to another to top off their tank, but they don’t because Japanese people are more considerate than that.  Last night at the grocery store, some of the shelves were looking pretty bare.  People are stocking up on staples and non-perishables in case an aftershock causes an unscheduled power outage.

Even if Japan weren’t having a national emergency, these would all still be just minor inconveniences.  Please channel your worries into something productive. For anyone still tempted to worry, let’s put things into perspective with before and after photos:

Town in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture



Neighborhood in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture



School in Minami Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture



My neighborhood in Hokuto, Yamanshi Prefecture



So there you have it.  Yamanashi is more or less life as usual, just a little shakier.  The only other change is my hair. I let my friend’s little brother shave it for me, which was it’s own type of scary. I’ve received two responses from my students: “Oh my gosh! What happened?” and “Oh my gosh! You look so cool! Like Beckham!” I’m not sure either counts as a compliment.














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