So, people have been asking how things are on a regular basis, so I thought I’d give an update on the situtation here. Everyone must know y now that the earthquake has been measured/estimated to be 9.0 on the richter scale. By far the most powerful measured in Japan since they started keeping records and measuring in the late 1800s. The earthquake itself caused some structural problems and injuries and deaths but the tsunami on the Tohoku coast about 250 miles North of Tokyo and where the epicentre was, caused huge amounts of destruction. Whole towns and villages seem to have been swept away, some losing half their residents as well as all of their buildings. The TV in Japan just keeps showing the footage of these terrible events.
We’re having continued aftershocks, which is disconcerting but nothing worse personally. Both TOmoko and I are getting “phantom quake” syndrome (quite usual in these circumstances) where our bodies for some reason report a non-existent quake. The Japanese Met agency estimated on Satuirday that there was a 70% chance of an aftershock of 7.0 magnitude or greater within the next three days, which passed without such an event. I’ve been using this nice online mashup to see what and where the events have been, after the fact. Sometimes we get a warning via a mobile phone app that a quake is coming, though we didn’t get one of those for the big one on Friday.
Last night saw a 6.2 quake inland in Shizuoka, which is worrying because that’s a different fault line and the line that is overdue for a big shift according to some reports. That one could hit Tokyo much more directly than the one on Friday.
Day to day life in Tokyo is rather disrupted. I was working at home anyway on Friday, and have been staying at home since. I can’t say I’ve been getting much work done. It’s hard to concentrate at the level I need for the stuff I need to do just now when the world shakes every hour or so.
Due to various nuclear power plants being offline at present (they’re checking the safety of others in the region affected very carefully as well as the Fukushima plant) Tokyo Power (TEPCO) have instituted rolling blackouts and are asking people to reduce their power consumption as much as possible. The blackouts aren’t occurring mostly, due to the reduce load that is being asked of the system. An exaple of this is that larger installations are running with many fewer lights. Our local supermarket has only half their sets of fluorescent tubes going and the Kinshichou JR train station probably had only a third of their lights on yesterday afternoon.
As some of you know I’ve been working on losing weight for the last couple of years and go swimming almost every day as part of that. Apart from Friday itself my local pool has mostly been open. They re-opened at 13:30 on Saturday and closed slightly early on Sunday and Monday to conserve power (they’re also on fewer lights than normal). They’re closed Tuesdays but said on Monday that they expect to be back on normal operation today, unless Sumida is scheduled for a blackout (which is hasn’t been so far). On Tuesdays I normally go to Kinshichou pool one stop East along the Chuo line, but their movable pool floor was damaged by the quake so the pool there is out of service for the meantime.
Some of my friends have left Tokyo or Japan due to the power plant at Fukushima, but I’m not really worried about that. They seem to have it under control and the danger is localised only.
What is worrying me is the food supply situation in Tokyo. I haven’t been out yet today Wednesday, but yesterday the supermarkets and convenience stores were all running out of much of their supplies of fresh and semi-fresh goods. There was just about no milk available anywhere yesterday, and very little in the way of vegetables. Bread has very limited availability. Meat is running out. Instant Ramen noodles were gone by Sunday or even Saturday. Eggs are mostly gone. My wife thikns this is over-buying and hoarding by people, but the pattern seems more like shops not getting re-stocked to me. There is a problem with fuel deliveries which is hampering deliveries up to the disaster sites as well, because the petrol refineries are mostly shut down. This is not getting any news coverage really, probably because the nuclear power plant is more sensational, but to my mind is a potentially bigger problem. Because Tokyo apartments are so small and shops so distributed, most people don’t stock large amounts of food in the house and if supplies don’t start flowing soon, there will be people starting to go hungry. We’ve got a few days of supplies in before we have to start living off dried food stocks and that’s the point at which it’s a matter of nutrition starting to be a problem rather than just choice disappearing. Tokyo is a very modern city but it depends very heavily on significant logistic chains. I’m surprised how easily this has been disrupted. I can understand the fresh things like milk being disrtupted, particularly as the area worst effected is one of the largest dairy areas in Japan, but the lack of any real re-stocking in our local supermarkets and covnenience stores suggests that very little supply is happening. I did see a 7-11 truck doing some deliveries to their local store on Sunday, but that was just one truck.
Current Music: Much Ado About Nothing Soundtrack