(View from my office ... again. Can`t get enough of it ... the view not my office.)
Around this time last year I took my seminar students to the uni library to look for English books for their graduation theses. English books were pretty thin on the ground although, like most uni libraries I have visited in Japan, it has a plentiful stocks of German literature from around the late 1930`s. Before we went in, I told my students to set their phones to manner mode (silent mode) in order not to disturb others but about 10 minutes in, several students` phones begin to ring, not just mine but other students` phones in the study areas.
"I TOLD you to TURN your phones to MANNER MODE. You are being RUDE and THOUGHTLESS to other people. If you DON`T turn off your phones RIGHT NOW I am going to TAKE THEM AWAY from you and you will have to get the from me AFTER 5PM ...." Etc etc. I was on form that day.
The students let me finish then one guy said, "Erm, sensei, that`s the earthquake alarm. We are about to have an earthquake".
"Is that right?" I said, from underneath the table. "So, um, what do we have to do?"
Well, we didn`t do anything and luckily the quake struck up north. I have been teaching for over a decade in Japan and at no school or university have I ever been told what to do with my students when a quake happens. I have since told them that evacuation point is the Starbucks at Tokyo University.
What the students had on their phones was a quake warning app (which overrode the manner mode setting). Yure Kure - (shaking coming) is the most popular. You are supposed to get a minimum of about 3 seconds warning but sometimes a lot more before a quake strikes. Apparently they worked well before the big one in March, giving around 10 seconds warning. Much good it did people because 90% of those killed drowned in the tsunami afterwards.
Some colleagues asked me if I was going to get Yure Kure but I don`t see the need. I am surrounded by students who have it. Also when all those phones did go off in the library we didn`t do anything. We just waited.