My Experience of the Japan Earthquake

Japan 2011 earthquake

Just thought I would write a short blurb on what the earthquake was like to experience…

I knew in coming to Japan I was going to experience earthquakes. And I was ready for that, I wasn’t overly upset about it. I felt I could handle it. However, when that big one hit, it threw me for a loop.

When it started, we had no idea it was a big one. Not having experienced an earthquake we had no idea what to rate this as. As it turned out, we suffered a moderate quake. None of the horrific stuff they were/are dealing with up further north.

When it hit

The earthquake occurred in the middle of the afternoon. I think that made it in many ways easier for us to deal with our first quake. Trav pointed it out, just as I was realizing what was going on. It seemed to be going on for longer than I expected a small earthquake to go for. I grabbed the video camera and got a short video of what was happening, but then it was still going on.

By this point I was getting nervous. This was going on 3 minutes long already. It wasn’t the actual shaking that was upsetting me. I think it was the fact that I had no idea what to do. I pride myself on being prepared for handling disasters, at least, as much as a person is able to. However, that meant I was ready for tornadoes and blizzards. I had no idea what to do for an earthquake, except perhaps stand in a doorway or something to protect yourself. (I have since learned being in a protected area-under a table or the like- near an outer wall –which don’t fall in as much as the centre of buildings- is likely about the best you can do.) If you have better earthquake tips for me, please share them in the comments.

I went outside to see what people were doing: is this a big one? should we be going downstairs? should we be going to a certain area? I saw a couple older people open their windows and look out and then go back in. So I decided this was not something to go racing down the stairs, screaming over. However, I was still very nervous that this quake could get worse, especially since it was going on for such a long time. Also, I didn’t like that we didn’t really have any contacts to check on us in case this did go bad.

What now?

Japan 2011 earthquake

Photo Credits: by LuisJouJR on Flickr

So after pestering Travis, who in my opinion, was not taking it serious enough, I got him to email a friend here with our cell phone number and our actual address. Just so someone out there would be able to make sure we were ok. Also Alex (our apartment contact) called to check on us an hour or so after the quake, which I really appreciated.

I also pestered Trav to see what our evacuation area was. After seeing how many escaped the tsunami by racing to their safety area, I am more convinced than ever that we should be familiar with it.

We turned on the TV almost immediately after the shake, and all the channels were already broadcasting the quake. That made me feel a bit better, that there was information going out. But then to see how other places had it much worse was upsetting. And actually, the actual quake didn’t cause that much damage, a couple fires, some falling glass and concrete. It was the tsunami that really caused all the havoc.

I found that the next day I was really exhausted. While we didn’t have to deal with the extremes others did, I found the fact of just having it constantly on your mind and worrying about others to really cause a strain. By the end of yesterday, when all the red lines around the Japan maps were turning to orange and yellow, I was able to relax more. It has left me very tired though.

It is hard to believe this all happened before we were even here for a week. The one consolation I tell myself is that surely something like this will not be happening again in the next two months.

The other thing that was uplifting was seeing how many people worried about us and contacted us or family. It was incredible to see how many people cared. Thank you everyone for your concern!

4 Responses to “My Experience of the Japan Earthquake”

  1. Timboliya  on March 13th, 2011

    You guys caught the big one! Crazy. Three minutes would be extreme. I guess the only bright side is how well the Japanese engineer their buildings. Amazing there is not more casualties from a quake of such magnitude. Obviously any losses are sad and unfortunate. Stay safe! And I’ll see you in April.

  2. Sasksak  on March 15th, 2011

    Thanks for your concern. We are doing ok! Looking forward to your visit.

  3. Shani  on March 16th, 2011

    Wow! That sounds crazy! I’m so glad you weren’t in the norhern part that got the worst. So sad though for the ones that are there. Is the video the whole 3 mins? That sounds really long to me.

  4. Sasksak  on March 18th, 2011

    No, Didn’t record the entire 3 min. Took a bit b/4 I started filming and after about one min, it was just sort of the same so I stopped.


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