Monday, 14 March 2011

Monday 14th March 2011

Mood: Extremely short-tempered because I am very very very tired.
Health: A sprained back from having to push the fridge back into place.
Favourite hat: The blue fire-proof hood in my new profile picture. Do they sell matching fire-proof gloves?
Favourite book: Anything that stays on the shelf.
Favourite food: Carbs. Biscuits, toast, chocolate. I now realise that my stocks of earthquake food are completely wrong. When the (next) big one strikes I do not want to eat tinned sardines or Spam. I want Tim Tams and chocolate-covered Macadamias.
Not-so favourite friends: All those people who are saying that the quake up north has put an incredible strain on the faultline under Tokyo and we are really in for it now. You sods.
Scariest moment: Being only 99.9% sure that the Japanese-language gas company manual, showing a very complicated diagram of the outside gas junction box with pipes and meters and blinking lights, said, “Press red button once to restart gas supply”. And then pressing the red button.

As a foreigner with no local Japanese friends, I need to go out every day and see what`s going on. (I have local foreign friends but they have even less idea than me what is going on. Facebook has been very useful, the British embassy website pretty useless, BBC twitter very interesting.) At 11am at the supermarket there was controlled panic buying with queues all the way to the back of the shop. People seemed to be buying a lot of rice and eggs, and everyone was picking up a bag of toilet paper too. But when I went back in there 30 minutes later the queues were gone and there was still plenty of food. Milk is rationed to 1,000ml per person but there was plenty of it. The Japanese don`t drink much milk. There were salads, sushi, tofu, fried fish and plenty of vegetables. So either they have had some deliveries or they still had some stock which they put on the shelves after I had visited last night. By noon however, there was no loo roll, rice, eggs, yoghurts or water. But there was still plenty of beer. I went to several other shops and there is no bread to be had. There are a lot of men and kids about so I guess they have taken the day off. Many of the men have backpacks and are standing in shops holding lists or on their mobiles receiving instructions. The roads are very crowded and the side streets are packed with people on bikes. It`s a bit like a national holiday, only everyone`s carrying toilet roll.

Mitaka station has some trains running but all the shops there are closed including the bakery and .... Starbucks! So this is really a national emergency now. However Mr Donuts had all their donut varieties in stock. The video store was open. So was the bank and there was no queue for the cash machines. Some restaurants were closed, others open. The bike shop was open so I got my bike tyres pumped to the max for a quick getaway. (Prime Minister Kan was right, this IS just like the Second World War. The French are evacuating. Brits and Americans have been advised to stay put.) Back at home, the rubbish was collected and the postman delivered yet another academic journal.

Tepco annoyed me and a lot of other people by announcing and then cancelling the power outages this morning. I spent a long time last night trying to find out when my block would have no power (the Tepco website went down as soon as the outages were announced). Eventually I found out that my block would have no power from 9.20am to 1pm and I prepared accordingly. I did my washing last night and I had my breakfast ready to go. Then this morning they moved the outage to 6.20-10pm, and now we don`t know if there will be outages or not. Of course it is good news that they currently have enough power not to have to cut us off. Apparently enough people turned off their heated toilet seats.

We had one tremor this morning that had me reaching for my camera but it stopped quickly. Bright and sunny now so I think I`ll get back to my work.


  1. I am reading you. Please keep posting.
    I am in Mexico City, anything I can do to help you?


  2. Thank you, Marisol. It makes me feel very good - and rather weepy - to know that people like you are sending good wishes.

    I`m OK here in Tokyo but, like everyone else, I am frustrated that we can`t help people up north except by saving electricity and gas.