blacklilly: (Default)
Hey all,

After last night's big aftershock, we're now being pummelled by some impressively strong wind.  I'm not sure now whether it's the ground, me or the wind shaking the house.  Thanks, weather.  Just in time for my hanami party too.

So, I actually just wanted to post this link to the Deathgaze review and interview at Rokkyuu Magazine.  Photos by me.  What a good gig that was.  I was a bit gutted that Deathgaze cancelled their Tokyo gigs after the quake, though it was entirely understandable.  I guess I shall be somewhere around the world when they next play Tokyo.

Speaking of which, there are now two weeks to go until the Peaceboat sets sail from Yokohama.  I am nowhere near packed (I have to be ready to send stuff off next weekend) and there are all these things I keep needing to do which jump out at me.   I attended two Peaceboat events this week.  The first was a pre-voyage fundraiser where I got to meet alot of the young volunteer staff, who are all ridiculously energetic and funny.  I then had a staff nomikai (drinking party) last night, where I was able to spend a bit more time with my bosses and co-workers.  They all seem like a great bunch of people, and there are a couple of people I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be good buddies with.

I've had flu and tetanus shots this week, and am thinking about thyphoid and hepatitis B - though they are prohibitively expensive.  I guess I shall just have to be extra careful.  I'm also a bit unsure about the malaria situation.  Basically, the costs and side-effects of taking malaria medication for over 80 days outweigh the risks of actually getting malaria, so we decided not to do it. The doctor just told me to go straight to a clinic if I get at all feverish.  A friend of mine told me he has had malaria four times (his father is/was a Nigerian ambassador) in his life, and he's doing OK...

In other news, I celebrated my freedom by making a return to my old goth self.  It certainly makes me feel about 10 times sexier than I did before, and is a  damned good excuse to wear more lipstick:

 
blacklilly: (Default)
Oh ye gads, it's the end of the freaking world!!  There's almost no beer left in Asagaya! The only stuff people won't touch is the non-alcohol and calorie free stuff...and Beaujolais Nouveau, but that is entirely understandable. Not only does this tell us what shit even Japanese people won't touch in a crisis, but that should the end come, I won't be able to drink myself to death first!! 

Ha ha ha.  I joke on that last count, of course.  Seriously, though, this beer shortage is a problem.   With the water supply issues at the moment, bottled water is scarce, so beer kinda seemed like an option until a week or so ago when I overheard a discussion between the owner of my local bar and his supplier:

" I've got one keg of Yebisu left.  Do you want it?" the supplier muttered into the bar owner's ear.

" What happens when that runs out?" the bar owner asked.

" We still have the Asahi Super Dry."  Both men looked seriously into space.

" Give me whatever you've got left.  Bottles as well," said the bar owner.  " Hopefully things won't get that bad."


It turns out that one of the Yebisu breweries was knocked out either by the quake or the tsunami, and is out of action until they can safely return gas and power to it.  The Kirin brewery site in Yokohama is subject to blackouts and supply problems, I would assume.  As for Asahi, who knows, but there isn't much of that about at the moment either.  Though it gives you a good indication of its popularity, that it was one of the last beers to still be hanging around in the convenience stores.  I'm well aware that there are other locations in Japan still brewing beer, but they are unlikely to divert their supplies to Kanto when Kansai and Kyushu are also needing to slake their thirsts.  I bought one can of Yebisu in the supermarket earlier, along with a 12 pack of toilet roll - mango-scented - which was a relief.  I was starting to look at which book was going to be the first to be ripped up for bog roll.  Maybe I should request copies of the Daily Mail and Sun newspapers to be shipped over to Japan.  They'd make good bum rags.

Last week I went out to grab some food and wrote this when I got home:  "Ito Yokodo had a massive delivery of water when I popped in earlier.  People were taking them out of the boxes before the staff could get them open properly.  One old lady was trying to fill her basket with bottles until one of the staff reprimanded her and told her she could only have 1 bottle.  She had to put them back.  Ha ha.  Old ladies = wagamama monsters."

I know much has been said of how people in Sendai have been stoic about their situation and haven't resorted to looting or fighting etc etc, but I think people there have a better spirit than those in Tokyo - a better sense of community.  I sometimes feel the fact that Tokyo mostly comprises people from all over the country makes it a rather disconnected place to live, which perhaps results in people immaturely hoarding food, water and other necessities.  Anyway, just a random thought.

So, things have settled down a lot since last week.  Omotesando and Harajuku are their normal heaving selves.  The police in the Omotesdando Dori police box were feeding biscuits to some woman's pet rats dogs on Friday morning, and the street nampa-ing (or whatever it is those guys are up to) is back on.  Curiously the tissue guys were absent this week - possibly they got mobbed for their tissue stashes and are tending to their old lady-shaped bruises at home.  Work is busy with spring intensive courses for the kids.  Thursday, fortunately, is my last day at work until July (not including Peaceboat), so I'm counting the hours until my freedom!

So, I shall leave you with a photo of plum blossom from one of my wanderings from the other week:




blacklilly: (Crazy)
I came back to Tokyo yesterday. The shinkansen was packed, but my friend and I were lucky to get a seat. The four days down in Osaka were a much needed break from the constant anxiety in Tokyo - I stopped shaking, and despite dreaming about earthquakes for all but one night, got some rest and relaxation.  Every time I go to Osaka I wonder why I don't live there.  The atmosphere of the city seems to suit me much more.  The pace of life seems less frenetic than Tokyo, and the people much more friendly and relaxed.  There's something nice and grimy about Osaka which I like, too.  And the mexican restaurants are deeelicious.

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?????? 


blacklilly: (Default)
Day 3 in Osaka!  I was sitting in bed last night and thought the hostel was shaking, but yet again, it turned out to be me.  I hope I can keep myself from going nuts when I go home tomorrow.  No word of any big events or changes on the news this evening, other than that power is soon be restored to the coolers at the nuclear plant (fingers crossed).  Japanese TV has cancelled all advertising and so is running the same four or five public service announcements.  One is about strokes, one about cancer, one about having good manners on the train, and the other (curiously) about being friendly to people. Talking to strangers is the best way to make friends.  I'd like to see that work in reality.  Or maybe that's just me.

I thought I'd show you a couple of pictures from last week:

            

The one on the left is my kitchen.  As you can see, stuff was thrown around, but apart from that not unlike the state of my kitchen on a Saturday morning - though I am less prone to hurling the microwave around.  The picture on the left is my friend's apartment.  He lives on the 4th floor and came home to find all his bookcases tossed about.  He didn't go home for 2 days, as he couldn't face dealing with the mess, only for it be tossed about again if another big one hit.

So, continuing from yesterday, reports in the Kansai region say that there are 90% more foreigners around than usual. Being the most conspicuous, it's an easy observation to make, but there are a fair few Japanese escapees too.  Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe hostels and hostels are fully booked for this weekend, and restaurants are packed out.  I was walking through Shinsaibashi yesterday with a friend, who spotted a group of people she knows vaguely from Tokyo, and I'm fairly certain I've seen a few familiar faces.

There have been some comments made by people in Tokyo saying that it the behaviour of people who left Tokyo is shameful.  I recall watching people leaving messages on Facebook last weekend saying they were moving to Osaka, and thinking that it was a bit of an over-reaction.  I can only say for myself that I waited until it became obvious I was going to get sick if I didn't leave. I admit to feeling a little ashamed of the idea of leaving, and certainly felt it when I was taking the train to Tokyo station on Friday morning, but the masses of (mostly Japanese) people at the shinkansen gates reassured me that this behaviour is not confined to just the foreign community.  So far as I can tell, and this is purely form observation, but the majority of people who left the country fall into two categories - those who are in their early 20s, and those with young families.  For both, I can appreciate their reasons.  Something hugely stressful like this is bound to have you heading home if you have responsibilites to your family, or a family who are desperate about your safety.  I certainly received a lot of messages from people asking me if I'm leaving, and some even offering to buy me a place ticket out.  A friend, who lives out here with his brother, posted a message saying he didn't want to leave Tokyo but was heading to Osaka purely for the peace of mind of his family.

The family pressure comes from the overblown coverage provided by the British press.  The Sun and the The Daily (hate)Mail are most guilty of this, but even the BBC seems to me to be over-egging things.  I appreciate they need the ratings, but the news they were providing was out of date, sometimes inaccurate, and came in such a bombardment that it was difficult for people not to get hysterical. I also felt that the focus on the nuclear plant was way out of proportion when there were thousands of people elsewhere in Tohoku who need that media attention more.

OK.  Dinner time. 

Here's a picture of an octopus.

 








blacklilly: (Default)
I am currently in Osaka.  I came down yesterday, after realizing that my nerves had got the better of me.  Despite the first two or three days after the earthquake being pretty constant for aftershocks, I thought I was handling it OK, but by Tuesday I realized that I was starting to go down hill. My head felt as though I was viewing everything through a haze, I couldn't sleep, and throughout the days I was constantly experiencing fake earthquakes - it was either in my head, or my heart beating so strongly that I the rest of my body was shaking.  By Thursday evening, I found myself in my friend's bar with my legs and hands shaking almost non-stop after having two strong aftershocks inside 10 minutes.  I had also taken to sleeping fully-clothed, with the light on, too scared to even take a shower for fear of another shock. 

My boss very graciously gave me yesterday off work, so I could have 4 days rest - this being a long weekend anyway.  My two other jobs have cancelled everything until next week at the very earliest.  The Omotesando job is bravely toiling ahead - they say they have no choice but to carry on - they have no where else to go, and a business to run.  

Since coming to Osaka, I've met up with quite a lot of other people who have also left Tokyo - and the reasons are a mixture.  Some, like me, cannot deal with the constant aftershocks and the fear of another big quake, whilst others are much more concerned with the nuclear situation in Fukushima,  I've spent a lot of time researching the reactors, and trying to find out as much as possible about the likelihood of a meltdown and it's possible effects.  Most information seems to point to things being unlikely to get as far as the need to shelter indoors whilst a radioactive cloud passes overhead, but as the days go on and the British Embassy edits its advice (they have now started distributing iodine to British citizens), one can't help but start to feel a little anxious about what we are not being told by the Japanese authorities.  Despite people doing their best to carry on as normal, there is a palpable tension to daily life.

On Monday I went down to the station as I had heard it was crazy busy.  There were people queuing out of the building to get on a train.  Allegedly it took a friend an hour to get from the entrance onto a train.  The supermarkets were also bare by Sunday night - no rice, no water, no bread, no noodles.  I would like to show you pictures but my friend took them and I am unable to snatch them off of Facebook for you.  Anyway, I'm sure you've seen plenty of that on TV already. Despite the state of the the supermarkets, the smaller stores  were and are still operating extremely well.  Local bakeries are making a killing as they don't rely on a supply chain for bread, and the vegetable stores are still selling produce.  In fact, one supermarket in town managed to restock on Wednesday morning, though it was almost empty again by the early afternoon.

I'll continue more tomorrow.  I've got to go out!
blacklilly: (Default)
I am getting so fed up with these aftershocks.  Yesterday, we had one pretty much every hour.  Just when you started to relax, the house would start shaking again.  The other thing now is that sometimes I think we're shaking, when we're not.  I was sitting in my friend's bar last night and we spent our time watching the bottles to see whether it was us or the building.

And now the problems at the nuclear plant, which some people are getting worried about down here in Tokyo.  Some people are even talking about leaving the country for a few weeks.  The idea is quite attractive this morning, but I don't really want to uproot myself 6 weeks before I leave the country anyway.  We'll see how things work out.  I made sure the British Embassy have the correct details for me, and the British Council called me on Saturday to check I was doing alright.

I feel like I'm over-reacting a little.  I got off lightly - only a broken teapot - but it is really stressful not knowing when another quake is coming.  Interestingly, I was talking to a friend last night and their phone alarm went off.  It turns out the Docomo network have an early warning system, which gives you the location of the quake.  Last night it read Niigata, and 10 seconds later the bar shook.  It was actually a relief to know it was coming -  you at least have 10 seconds to process and react.

Anyway, I shall keep posting when I can.  From tomorrow we're going to be having 3 hour power cuts everyday - don't yet know what time yet, but allegedly we'll find out later today.
blacklilly: (A Vad Day)
Just to let you all know that I'm OK.  I had a pretty scary time in Tokyo yesterday, and an intense 5 hour bus ride back home (would've been quicker to walk, I hear), but was relieved to get back and find all my friends OK, and that house is still mostly in one piece.  Later I will be heading out on my bicycle to see what's what - plus, staying outside is better than in at the moment.

It's a beautiful sunny morning in Tokyo, but I can't begin to imagine what is happening in Sendai right now. 
blacklilly: (Default)
What is going on around here lately?  Anyone would think with all the typhoons, floods and earthquakes that an apocalypse was approaching.  Although, I think I may have predicted such an event a few posts ago.  Worryingly, i saw said band on the Metal Hammer website.  I was so shocked at actually seeing their name that I quickly hit the nearest link to get away from them, and ended up on the Evony website - coz what better way is there to sell RP than close-ups of tits - see to the right of your screen now if you're not a paid up LJ member.

Anyway, woken again this morning by a long quake.  Only a 2 or so here, but a shallow 6.5 in Hachijojima.  One wonders if this is signalling some kind of volcanic activity, what with the epicentres tending to be out towards the Izu islands.

Okay.  Now I have to finish my tea and carry on packing.   Horrendous.  I don't know what to do next.
blacklilly: (Shibuya)
And once again, I would like to say that I am still fine after this morning's earthquake.

NHK can tell you all about it.

I've experienced a stronger quake than that before (it was around a 4 here) so I wasn't too worried about it, though it did wake me up moments before the shaking started.  It's slightly weird lying in bed wondering if the wobbling things around you are signalling the "big one" everyone is predicting.  What especially freaked people out was the duration of the quake - it was pretty long as far as standard quakes go, the third long and strong one in as many days too. 

Still packing.  I've been informed that my apartment will be shut down after I leave, so I can take what I like with me.  Which means nice microwave, fan and saucepans, if they'll fit in the car.  Hurrah.

blacklilly: (Genki)
It's a sticky, horrible, rainy day.  The only small blessing is that the cloudy, rainy weather has reduced the temperature to 26 degrees, although the 88% humidity is doing little to help matters.

Last night we had a massive leaving dinner for one of my co-workers - about 61 people turned up - and we pretty much took over one half of an izakaya in Yokohama.  Half way through my co-workers' speech the building started swaying.  It wasn't a strong quake, maybe only a 3 or a 4, but when you're on the 25th floor it feels slightly like you've been drinking too much, which most people had, though pleasantly I hadn't.  I think the weird thing was that it lasted for about 2 minutes or so, which is a pretty long time.  If you check the Japan Meterological Agency site  for yesterday at about 8.02pm, you can see that pretty much the whole  Honshu experienced the quake.

Today, after lazing about in bed this morning, I will be packing up my stuff as I'm moving house at the end of the week.  Today is the only day I'm going to get off until next Wednesday as I on the go from 10am to 10pm every day this week with various bits and pieces.  After moving house on Friday, for which I have taken a day off, I will be working Saturday and then taking a a night bus to Niigata and Sado Island for the Earth Celebration festival.  The island is deceptively large, probably about the same size as Tokyo, so my friend Rachel and I have been mulling over how to get to do all the things we want, including taking a tour through a fjord in a glass-bottomed boat.  The Taiko drumming workshops are all fully booked, but as long as the weather holds out I'm certain that we can do whatever we want on bicycles.  As we're camping, we'll have no shower facilities, so we're planning to hit the sea, and the onsen in town, everyday.  An excellent excuse to sit hot baths which are rumoured to be good for gout.  I didn't even know that condition lasted any longer than poor Sir Lester Deadlock in "Bleak House".

So, anyway. Packing...

blacklilly: (Default)
Whenever we have a large earthquake I like to check it out at the Japan Meterological Earthquake. I like how the map goes from this to this.

That was the third noticeable earthquake we've had in the past week. Two of them were during the day while I was at work. Sitting on the 8th floor during a quake is quite interesting as the building seems to continue swaying for quite a long time. I also found it amusing when my class of business-men had a freak out in response to a tiny quake. Of course, I won't find it funny when my flimsy apartment collapses about me...

The quake on Wednesday night was a little different from the others. I was lying on my sofa and thought that I was having a vertigo moment as I felt a little dizzy. Turns out that it was vertical movement of the quake before the horizontal set my light and bookcase swinging. Hmmm, the hazard geographer in me can't help but get excited about it all. Ghoulish.

Tremors

Apr. 2nd, 2007 09:25 am
blacklilly: (Default)
I forgot to mention that we had an earthquake last Sunday. Forgot, in that I didn't really notice it. I only found out about it two days later.

Anyway, this was the earthquake itself, and it was felt over here by a lot of people. I, however, was in bed watching "Heroes" and felt only a small tremor. Being so close to the road, I thought it was the vibration from passing traffic and didn't think anymore of it, though I do remember noticing my free-standing mirror quivering and thinking: "That's a big truck".

Further to the post earlier about writing a story, and on the theme of last weekend, I wrote a poem for the first time in about 3 years last Monday. I might post it here when I get the guts.

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