Saturday, 19 March 2011

Friday 18th March 2011

Wake to the sound of the Hallelujah chorus which Christopher Robin uses to time his boiled egg. It must be firm on the outside and completely raw on the inside otherwise, he says, his day is ruined. He and the English lecturer head off to an antiques fair, while I take his supermarket `Heart Point` card and buy bread, grapefruits and tea. There is little bread but plenty of rice and Pot Noodles. And plenty of everything else.

There is one minute`s silence at 2.46pm for the victims of the quake and tsunami but I don`t find out about it until later. (Christopher Robin doesn`t watch television – too modern, I am guessing.) But I am asleep anyway because I am exhausted. Having said that, I was also dozing last Friday when the quake struck.

In the evening a group of us go to Yamachan which is famous for its fried chicken wings. Then to Karaoke. I sing `Anarchy in the UK` because I am tone deaf and can still sound good.

My Japanese chum spends the evening referring to her i-phone. Apparently there has been some nuclear development. We are now at Level 5. As with much else we have heard this week we don`t know what it means (except for Ukranian D H Lawrence who says that Chernobyl was a Level 7). Is it out of 10? Apparently not. Should we be worried? D H Lawrence just wants to sing and shake his tambourine.

More understandable for the women in the group is the internet gossip that Kimutaku (SMAP boy band member) may be about to divorce his wife and may be planning to announce this news during the current crisis in order to bury it. Apparently he was seen going into a love hotel with a `beer lady`. Japanese people are good at looking for hidden news. In honour of the occasion we sing their hit “Dynamite (my Honey)” although I have trouble reading the Japanese fast enough and don`t catch up until the chorus.

This week has actually been a case of making the best of a bad situation. At times I`ve even had fun. Like everyone in Japan I have felt very stressed because I don`t know what is going on or what is going to happen. Also, except for those in the immediate disaster, area there seems to be nothing we can do. Except donate money. But Japan is a very wealthy, high-tech nation. They`ve got plenty of money to deal with the situation.

At least I THINK so. After the Kobe quake in 1997, the government said that everything was under control and no help was needed. I was living in Hamamatsu at the time, about two hours by train from Kobe, when a colleague suddenly got a call from a fellow teacher in Kobe asking them to send the basics, in particular food and nappies. So they got in their car and drove to the outskirts and handed the stuff over. And even on the 10th anniversary of Kobe, people were still living in the emergency housing. Kobe is another reason why no-one believes what they hear now.

Anyway, I am planning to head back to Tokyo on Monday. I need to clean my apartment, prepare for the new semester and get back to work. I will take a bag of food. A Japanese friend says that her mother is wearing her hard hart indoors in north Tokyo. She says I should buy one. But there aren`t any. Never mind. I really just want to get back to normal. I`ve had a break, calmed down and met up with old friends. But enough is enough. I actually want to get back to reading my academic journals... Even if it is by candlelight.

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