Saturday, April 6, 2013

Earthquakes and Eloquence

Having lived in Japan for the better part of a decade, I experienced a fair few earthquakes.  Most of them in the first year I was there. 

I lived in Saitama, which is right next to Tokyo.  If I understood all the explanations about earthquakes correctly, there are no fault lines where I was living but there were some all around us...which means we felt all the quakes in the area.  If it happened north of us, areas south of us might feel it a little bit or not at all.  If it happened south of us, areas north of us might not feel much of the effects if at all...you get the picture. 
Taadaaa!  Saitama!
Basically, we felt quakes a lot.  Strong enough to make you stop and notice...about every two to three weeks.

I think I became pretty fascinated with them.  As did most of us who had no experience with them back home.  Within seconds of feeling one, the texts between us were flying around fast and furious.

And being the graceful, poised person that I am, I always handled my earthquake experiences with ease. 

Like the very first time I felt one while I was completely alone.  It was about 3am and I was wide awake with a miserable cold; coughing and hacking so hard that sleep was just not going to be happening.  I was laying on my belly, praying for sleep when suddenly, there was a bit of vibration.  Then my whole apartment was shaking back and forth.  Now, you need to understand that my bed was in a loft.  I had to climb up a ladder to the loft...in other words, I slept on a shelf.  A big solid shelf way up in the air.  And when my world was shaking back and forth, I felt a fear so pure and so instinctual, all logical thought left my brain.  I managed to raise myself up as far as being on my hands and knees and I wasn't fast enough to beat the ice that rushed through my veins and froze me in place.  I just stayed there...on my shelf...on all fours...at 3am...and screamed.  All I could think was about how impossible it looked to get down my ladder.  I was later cheerfully informed by a coworker, "Don't worry, if it was that bad, it would throw you out of your loft.  You wouldn't have to worry about climbing down the ladder."  Awesome.  That was good to know.


Eloquent poise
I did eventually join the ranks of the other, more experienced "gaijin" in learning to ignore a quake and keep teaching, sleep through one at night and look at folks in complete surprise the next morning when they tell me about it, and finally, exchange stories about where we were and what we did not stop doing when we felt one hit.  I will let your imagination fill in those blanks as to what some folks said they were up to at the time...whatever you think, you are probably right.

So as you can see, I was clearly the picture of level-headedness and calm confidence in the face of new situations.  Fortunately for me, I had not lived in Japan when an extreme quake hit.  What I experienced was really nothing.  And that suits me just fine!

10 comments:

  1. Hilarious way of telling your story! Traveling is such a great experience.

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    1. Thanks! Travelling is an amazing experience...I love to be on the move. So much so that I can't even stay in an apartment for very long before moving to a new one! lol! Living in Japan was the best time I have had anywhere!

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  2. I grew up in Northeast Arkansas which is situated on a huge fault line. i experienced many earthquakes. Such a strange and helpless feeling. Also I spent a summer in Japan one summer during college. Loved it!!!

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    1. Right on a fault line? Yikes! That would not be fun. And I agree, it is a helpless experience. The only things that go through my mind are "Where are my shoes?" and "Does that doorway look sturdy enough"? Hahaha! Japan was great...I really miss it!

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  3. I lived just outside of Vancouver BC and have felt many quakes too. Just wee ones but they always seem to give a person a good knocking about, don't they?

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    1. They sure do! Definitely get your attention. I have never been to Vancouver and would love to get there someday!

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  4. I have only felt a small tremor, but that was enough for me. We don't experience many quacks here in Oz!

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  5. I've never experienced an earthquake - but I feel like it would be interesting. The only thing I would worry about is the precariously perched collectables on my shelves!

    T'Laina at I have a Life and it is Usually Boring

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  6. Wow! We had an earthquake here once (live in Virginia), and I didn't even know what it was until everyone was talking about it on Twitter. It was scarier to know after the fact than when it actually happened. LOL!

    A to Z Participant
    Cherie Reich - Author and Surrounded by Books Reviews

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  7. Great story! I'm reading through your A-Zs and enjoying them. I had to click on earthquakes for E because I think about them a lot, since I'm from California. It's implanted in my subconscious this awareness of how not solid everything is--even here in Brazil where there are no earthquakes, I think about meteors hitting the earth or the planet shifting violently on its axis or anything really that could cause this ball to simply start falling through space.

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