A Week in Tokyo 64
Its been 2 weeks since the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake hit Japan and today we'll take a look at whats been happening in Tokyo since then.
First photo taken in a small street near our station - we've got a load of streets around here full of personality.
Arrival back in Tokyo a few days after the quake. While folks recommended that we stay away, I just could not bear to watch from the outside and do nothing but hide. Dying is the last thing I'm afraid of - the thing I'm afraid of the most is dying without living my passion and Japan is where my passion has been since I discovered it. The write up and photos of our arrival in Tokyo and post-earthquake transportation situation in this post.
Arrival back at home in Meguro and first thing is first - let Saber out for some fresh air ^^;
Over at our neighbors house to listen to their account of the quake and current situation in Tokyo. Their TV was strapped down to prevent it from falling over as there were constant aftershocks.
One of the rescue workers who managed to save a 75 year old lady.
The earthquake was bad - Tsunami was worse and to top everything off, A few reactors at the nuclear power plants at Fukushima were damaged by the tsunami which released radioactive materials into the air.
Due to the nuclear plants being out of action, not enough electricity is being generated so the government put into effect rolling blackouts in the Kanto region (Tokyo is in Kanto). Most of Eastern Japan is now saving electricity as much as possible and thanks to this, the rolling blackouts were put off for a few days. The interesting thing was that many folks complained that the blackouts didn't happen as scheduled!
West Japan was hardly affected by the quake and are not subject to any scheduled blackouts. The reason why they cant just channel electricity from West to East Japan is because both sides run on different electric frequencies. East is 50Hz while West is 60Hz.
The reason why things ended up like this is because during the Meiji period, Tokyo imported its power generators from Germany while Osaka got its generators from the US.
Many electrical appliances would just break if the wrong frequency of electricity was used.
Radiation levels around Japan have been higher than normal and they've found traces in spinach and milk. The levels however are not high enough to cause damage - one of the statistics I saw was that unless one drunk more than 50,000 cups of milk then one would be fine. This chart should put everything into perspective and this article at the BBC may help folks who are still worried.
Coverage of the damage at ground zero.
On the night we arrived there was a large earthquake where the epicenter was Shizuoka which we also felt in Tokyo - me never seen Strike Gundam sway so much from the ceiling! Many folks started to worry that the icing on the cake would be the eruption of Mt Fuji which is located in Shizuoka.
While we didn't really have any trouble getting hold of food that we wanted to eat, supermarkets and pharmacies had empty shelves like this. Readily edible foods like bread and milk were hard to get hold of depending on the time of day one went shopping. The Supplies Shortage Tokyo post explains some of the reasons why shelves were like this.
The lights in our local arcade usually turn off around 9PM. What with the shops closing earlier than normal, the Palm shopping arcade was quieter than usual but pretty much back to normal during the day.
Samurai Champloo gets the Pachislot treatment.
The ramen place around the corner which we've been going to quite a bit of late.
And this is why - their Shio Ramen tastes great! Many ramen places have a stack of Manga for folks to read - this one all about golf.
Sushi for dindins.
On the way to Gakugei Daigaku for dindins.
We got rabbits sleeping in the shade at our local station.
Singapore laksa for dindins at home.
A notice from a local pachinko parlor informing us of how they are continuing business but with many lights turned off to conserve electricity.
The word Jishuku [自粛] means "self imposed control" and is an important keyword used in this disaster. Many companies are refraining from their normal marketing and advertising activities which is one of the reason why most of the ads on TV are public service ones.
For the first few days after the quake, most TV was just news. As TV started to get back to a normal schedule, the first few days had disaster related information at the top and side of whatever was being aired.
Our local bookstore back to normal.
Evening dinner meeting with Toranoana and Ascii Media Works - some rather good Chinese food near Akihabara.
Something going on at the other end of the room...
Little people larking around the lounge ^^;
Dinner for the evening.
One end of the lounge has turned into a diving area all of a sudden.
After dindin noms.
Walking around Keio Mita campus during a break. This room had many university students who went ahead to celebrate their graduations together - many schools ended up canceling the graduation ceremonies due to the quake. The writing on the board says "Chun's Prom."
Catching up on some mail while nomming on a bento provided by the organizers.
T'was a public holiday today so hardly any students around.
Noticed many Mac users in the audience.
Also noticed a member from Evangelion in the audience too.
Quite a few meetings out n about town means a lot of travel on the metro.
The latest from the metro manner posters. Had to look at this one closely before I worked out where the girls were supposed to be standing.
Off to the next meeting at Edogawa Bashi.
There was an earthquake in the morning and when that happens, many trains stop to make sure everything is safe before letting the trains run again. Me waiting by the river as my counterpart got stuck on the trains.
View from the King Records offices.
Cherry Blossom season upon us very soon. The board on right is a familiar sight during election time - numbers are slowly filled up with posters of political type folks. Vans will be driving up and down the streets with politicians shouting out their names soon too.
Edogawa Park will be lined with a load of cherry blossoms soon. A day before they are in full bloom, folks will typically put out blue mats under the trees as the tradition is to drink, eat and be merry while admiring the cherry blossoms. Photos from last years Cherry Blossom season posted here.
The dogs over here are smart because they carry plastic bags and scoop up their own poo.
Changing from the Yurakucho to the Nanboku line.
Our Palm Shopping arcade pretty much back into the rhythm of things.
Urusei Yatsura gets the pachinko treatment.
Pharmacies are mostly back to normal with supplies of toilet and tissue paper.
A poster issued by the police department. This one warns of the problem where folks are tricked into transferring money into a bad mans account.
Working on the 3rd floor with good company. This photo taken a few days ago when the news reported how traces of radiation was found in Tokyo water. Within minutes, folks ran out to buy as much mineral water as possible despite the levels being very low.
As for me - the first thing that went though my head was "its now or never" to try my first cup of PG Radiated Tips - tasted good!
Our Mirai Itasha still standing strong against the sun and is due to do so for the next 2.5 years. Regarding stickers for car owners overseas - am meeting Nakamura-san next Tuesday to go over costs and logistics.
Time to mow the lawn.
Palm early in the evening - a wee bit darker than usual due to electric conservation. Looks like we all need to do our bit to save electricity throughout the Summer too.
Saber gets to go out for a change.
Noms at Imon - the Chinese restaurant where we do all our dinner meetings.
One of my fave Japanese dishes - Ton Katsu.
Cakes made with your fave anime character. Which would you choose?
Heading back to the office after lunch.
Yoso Guy giving away free gowns and towels with new Softbank mobile subscriptions.
So far I've used all three major carriers - Docomo, AU and now use Softbank. Out of the three I prefer Softbank as all calls to fellow Softbank users between the hours of midnight and 9PM is free.
Local supermarket Tokyu informs customers that they are also continuing business with reduced electricity consumption.
A lot of my work involves using Skype which enables me to collaborate with folks in various locations around the world. The screen sharing functionality is a lifesaver. Would be quite lost without it ^^
Sometimes I would be working on the first floor...
...and sometimes up on the third floor.
Shelves cleaned up after the quake but not going to be displaying any figures here this time round ^^;
Folks have been wondering where all the figures go - some are kept and then others are gifts to folks who visit the office.
Hmmm. Whats all this then?
Getting round to tidying up the books after the quake.
My fave figma Yui has an accident - been carrying her around for over a year now ;-;
Anyway, now that you have seen what life is like in Tokyo now, does it change any decisions you've made about coming to Japan? If you was planning to come over to shop and do some sightseeing then your schedule will be unaffected - some shops will close an hour early and you may have trouble getting hold of batteries but that's about it.
As for the radiation levels - Japan's standards are so stringent anyway that even if levels are above normal for Japan, its still way below the levels in many cities worldwide - Google should provide you with more info.
Previous editions of A Week in Tokyo listed below.