Friday, March 18, 2011
One Week Post-Earthquake - Illusion of Normality
Again, not a particularly fun post perhaps, but more of a status report for those of you who for some reason check in to get a glimpse of how people in the Tokyo area are coping.
Today was a sunny great day, albeit a bit chilly, spring is supposed to return in force from tomorrow and get the Tokyo temperatures up to almost 20 degrees Celsius. As the Salaryman family headed out on foot today to get some groceries in the local supermarket (just to be safe, we try to save the gasoline we have in the car since it's still difficult to get) things almost seemed back to normal. All the small shops close to our house was open for business and to our great joy the fantastic (but expensive!) local bakery was open for business allowing us to get hold of some good bread for the first time in a week. The supermarket was reasonably well stocked and we managed to get hold of some diapers and the other stuff we needed (toilet paper, tissue paper and rice was still sold out, but we had secured some at least earlier).
The situation in the Fukushima plant is still worrisome, but the worst doomsday advocates seem to have calmed down a little bit; perhaps because the reality is bad enough and some foreign media was playing up the "the situation is beyond critical" angle so hard yesterday that instead of trying to trump it, they went with Libya instead and other news that had more drama in them.
Minor aftershocks keep on coming, but my impression is that the frequency and intensity is calming down a little bit and at this stage, a 3 or 4 on the Japanese scale from 1-7 hardly grabs my attention anymore as long as I know that the Baby and Mrs. Sunshine are with me. Planned power outages are announced and said to be rolling in the greater Tokyo region, but either they have forgotten our little hidden valley or we have something very important that we don't know about next doors, because power has not been interrupted in the Salaryman base of operations.
The Japanese media is not as extremely focused on the Fukushima situation as overseas and a lot of tragedy and desperation is coming to the surface with stories of survivors who have lost everything and people who are desperately waiting for help and supplies in isolated "safe zones". The total death toll has now surpassed the Hanshin earthquake and is sure to rise further as "missing persons" will need to be added to the death roll. But in all this, there is also a sense of returning "normality" and as I'm writing this, I'm drinking a beer and finally relaxing after a week of constantly trying to learn more about the situation, about earthquakes, about tsunami, about radiation and about the extent of death in this tragedy.
I know that strong aftershocks might follow, but I'm ok with that and realize that it doesn't mean that the whole thing will repeat itself again. For now, I feel like I can relax a bit for the first time in what feels like an eternity and after finishing this, I will enjoy a big whiskey.