In Japan, many cell phones are equipped with earthquake alarms that are activated 5 to 10 seconds ahead of tremors. The sound of 30-40 all going off at once in the teacher’s room this afternoon was possibly one of the most frightening sounds I’ve heard in my entire life, like an air raid and a flashback rolled into one. One teacher bolted for the door, and I very nearly dove under my desk–we’re still a little shell-shocked.
We were back to work today, though it was a planned teacher workday, so there were no students. This is a good thing, as there were no trains running in our area. My school draws students from all over the prefecture, and even a few from the neighboring prefectures, so a lack of train service is a serious problem for our students. There was a meeting after school about the situation, and I’ll find out soon what was decided.
Tomorrow is my weekly visit to a small town south of her, my various supervisors were quite concerned that the bus might be overcrowded, late, or just not running at all. In fact, one of my favorite coworkers suggested that maybe I could just stay home, and he was also really worried about me crossing the street.
This is because, as I mentioned yesterday, there are rolling blackouts planned throughout the area. They failed to materialize today, however, despite being pushed back and pushed back. The uncertainty has been stressful, but I’m very grateful to be sitting in my warm apartment, with my laptop, the light on, and a tummy full of warm food.
Still, at 3:15 we turned off all the lights at school and gathered around the window to see if the traffic signals would quit. They didn’t, but I was still glad to see uniformed crossing guards on my way home, just in case.
There were also some signs of returns to normalcy as well–today is White Day here in Japan, and my coworkers didn’t forget. As I mentioned on Valentine’s Day, traditionally women give presents to men on this holiday in Japan, due to a marketing typo when the custom was first imported. Realizing that they were missing out on 50% of society’s disposable income, retailers came up with White Day as a “Response Day” when men return the favor of their Giri or Honmei Choco.
If a gentleman returns the feelings of some “true feelings” chocolates he should splash out in return, but the obligation chocolates are answered as well, as evidenced by the pretty bags and boxes sprinkled on my (female) coworkers’ desks this morning. Sean even picked up a box of sweets for me in response to the chocolates I got him last month!
As I mentioned before, the lady teachers had banded together to purchase their obligation chocolates, and today the male teachers banded together to respond. The first year male teachers purchased lovely baskets of flower arrangements, and presented them to the first year female teachers after lunch. It was really sweet, and nice that they remembered the holiday despite all the upheaval of the past few days.
Of course, things aren’t completely back to normal yet–as I was sitting alone in the teachers room this morning (everyone else was in a meeting) the papers that I was grading seemed suddenly closer to my face, and I noticed that the cabinets were shaking violently. After what seemed like forever, the shaking stopped.
An aftershock off the coast had clocked in at 6.2, which is unpleasantly high even on its own, let alone as an aftershock. There’s a high probability of aftershocks clocking in as high as 7 these next couple days, and the earth doesn’t seem to be planning on letting us forget it.
Further Earthquake Posts: