I met up with an old friend on Sunday for lunch. Ayumi is a former student of mine from London, and she was always really cool. She played in a punk band in London, and looked after the school principle's little boy as a part time job. She's really different from many of my Japanese friends. We once went to an izakaya in Tokyo and she asked for a spoon. They waiter gave it to me, and I promptly handed it to her as she had lost her patience with chopsticks for eating rice - too much time in England with mashed potato. We went to a little omu-rice restaurant in Amemura (America-mura) and then went to buy earrings in a silver shop. We walked past a group of young kids having a dance competition on the street. There was a lot of silver lame, spandex and braided hair going on. Very cute. Ayumi took off for a band practice and I took to wandering the streets, where I observed some guy getting mobbed by people and upsetting the traffic. It turned out that he was Kid Yamamoto, a famous K1 fighter. I had no idea who he was until I googled him after a friend also mentioned seeing him.
So today, we've had three noticable aftershocks. They've been 5+/6+ tremors, though in Tokyo they only registered 1 and 2. I noticed the first one at work, mainly because I started feeling nauseous, and then the secretary called out "jishin" (earthquake) and we waited to see what would happen. The other two have been since I got home, though I don't recall noticing the second one, which is actually a good thing.
This afternoon I headed down to a hotel near the British Embassy in central Tokyo to pick up some iodine tablets. The likelihood of having to take them is low, as was stated when the embassy handed them over, but it provides some peace of mind for myself and the people back home. The queue was quite long. It took about an hour waiting to register but was pretty quick after that. I bumped into three other people I know in the queue.
The man standing next to me got talking, and provided a great conversational hour. He is teaching techincal writing at Tokyo Univeristy, but has a doctorate in civilisation collapse in ancient cultures. We talked about that, Angkor Wat, Frtiz Schumacher, and vertical farming, as well as his forthcoming book, which he says is a response to Jared Diamond's "Collapse". I've not read Jared Diamond, but I am aware of his stuff, so will have to look it up. This also ties in with what my friend Erik has been blogging about since last week. Erik has some really good stuff to say on environmental issues, and he writes very well. Check it out. Very interesting, and very lucky that I got to talk to him, as the people ahead of us spent much of their time wailing about some sort of apocalypse, telling each other to hush up about the apocalypse, and slagging off the French.
So, apart from the continued tremors, things are slowly slowly continuing and getting back to normal. The trains are running, though there is no set schedule running on some lines. I had to take the subway to get the tablets earlier, so was a little nervous about doing that, but it turned out alright. The subway is pretty empty in comparison to over-ground trains, but in general things are quiet. Food is back in the shops. In one supermarket they are rationing how much you can buy. I got two 2-L bottles of water today (I guzzle a lot of water), and my friend picked up some gas canisters (1 pack per person). 10kg bags of rice at rationed to 1 per purchase, and there was no bread left, but plenty of bakeries. So, not so bad. There's still palpable tension about, but the Japanese are good at dealing with difficulty - mature, as Erik put it - and are battling on sensibly where others might lose their heads.
Oh yeah, I checked the BBC yesterday, only to find that we had started bombing Libya. When did this happen??!! And more importantly - ANOTHER war??????