Many people have contacted me. Thank you very much. I’m all right. The following is my reply. (Reset of the time failed for some reason, so the date of this blog is wrong. It is 3/12/2011 05:44 pm)
I returned to Japan a few days ago, expecting my favorite sushi bar already closed. So, when I met a friend of mine at the Yokohama station, I told her I was very disappointed about the sushi bar. “No, not yet closed,” she said, “it is still open until the end of March.” I was overjoyed. So, we had our lunch at the sushi bar which I have blogged about before. The blog title was “Ito-san’s Smile.”
The restaurant is on the 6th floor of the building named Cial. The building was probably created around early 1970. It will be demolished along with the Tokyu Hotel next door, and a new and larger and stronger- to-earthquake building will be built later.
I’ve never felt an earthquake as strong and for a long period as this one. There was a minor one the day before, but I didn’t know. So, I guess the magnitude 8.8 yesterday was an after-shock. A few minutes after the beginning of the earthquake, I crouched under the counter and persuaded the people around me to follow. Nobody moved at first. I repeated, “Get down! Duck your head under the counter!” My friend replied, “I’ve been living in the earthquake country all my life.” I said, “I know you have, but never mind that. Get down here. Put your head under the counter at least!” A young couple and two older women were sitting near us. They said nothing, unmoved. I kept repeating the phrase, and eventually they all got down because the shaking didn’t stop.
“I came here to eat lunch,” I said under the counter, “because the building will be demolished soon for earthquake. So, I wanted to eat their sushi one more time before the price goes up.”
A woman across me got down under the counter and turned her head toward me.
“Me, too,” She said.
I smiled back. A young man clicked his phone and said, “The epicenter is Miyagi and 6 strong.” 6 strong and 6 weak are Japanese earthquake terms. They are confusing because they also report by the world standard, Magnitude. Magnitude 8.8 cannot be 6 strong, but I think Japanese delicate or vague sentiment plays a role here. Every time we have an earthquake, generally people try really hard to downplay everything so that we would at least appear normal under any circumstances.
I’ve been in the U.S. maybe too long. It is okay for me to say, “Gee, I’m scared!” when I’m scared. But, nobody around me had said, “I’m scared.” They all looked very cool.
After the earthquake settled a little, we paid and walked down the stairs, not elevator or escalator, and went across a bridge. The area is reclaimed from the ocean, so it is spacious, and many high rises have been under construction. We spotted a large number of construction workers gathered in a field across the sidewalk. It’s the first photo. One worker yelled at us, “Don’t go near the edge of the sidewalk. It is sunk.” Sure enough, all along the sidewalk, I saw a dark line between the asphalt and the grass and flower area. The second photo you see, there is a crack on the concrete. It wasn’t there before. And the photos are Yokohama, not the northeast.
Then we decided to walk home straight. It was about 4 pm already. My home is farther than my friend’s. I rested a while at a crowded burger shop before I started to walk home again. It usually takes one hour, but yesterday, it took much longer. I was calling and trying to reply my son’s email message on the cell phone. I’m very slow in typing on the phone. One side of the river had street lights on, but the other side was complete darkness. Many people were walking beside me, and train, bus, subway were unavailable at the time. I saw one taxi with four men inside. One okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) shop was open, but it had a long line. I went around finding other shops, but no places were open close to my home. I reached my home and found my electricity was out. It was 7:30 pm, but I went to bed.