Apr 30, 2011
Yesterday my friend Keith and I went to the Vegalta soccer match. It was the first game since the disaster. The stadium is just south of the Izumi Chuo and as promised the subway was in operation again so there was a big crowd. The funny wrinkled roof is the stadium and this is the access street from the station.
Before and during the game, there were a few unusual events. After the teams had warmed up and had returned to the dressing rooms under the stadium, A man sang the national anthem, so that does not usually happen. Then we had a minute of silence in respect of the tens of thousands of people who had died. I found it very emotional - almost 20,000 people standing in complete silence. I did not even hear any coughing. Then the mayor of Sendai and some other people gave short speeches.
As the teams were lining up to return to the pitch, I went out to the men's room and on the way back, I took this picture of Keith.
As the teams entered the pitch to start the game, there was an extremely unusual event. Earlier they had demonstrated this but I was surprised that it actually happened. They asked everyone to hold hands with the person next to them and raise their hands high over their head. You can see in this picture that most people actually did it. Very unJapanese, but it complimented the ad campaign that is being conducted, especially on TV, saying that "We are one and together we can revive the country." It stresses working together as a country, being friends, supporting each other, and the trying hard.
All in all, it was a good day and one on which I was almost able to forget about the disaster.
Apr 29, 2011
As I have said, Japan, at least the Tohoku area, is now covered with blue plastic tarps, held together by tape. Tape is also holding many other things together. Here it is a large window.
Also today is the first home game since the quake for Vegalta, the Sendai soccer team. In a couple of hours I will walk to Izumi Chuo to have lunch with my friend Keith, after which we will take in the game together.
Today's newspaper again had lots of advertizing inserts and this morning our mailbox contained a half dozen flyers in addition to the paper. I should point out for the American readers that Japanese mailboxes can be used for other purposes than official mail. Ours contains the mail, newspapers, ads, and notes and packages that are left by friends.
Apr 28, 2011
Speaking of normal, today's newspaper was back to the normal 26 pages and it contained more advertizing insets than we have seen since before the earthquake. The paper still has a small box on the first page apologizing for the inability to deliver to some of the most damaged areas. Also on the first page, there was an article telling about the local government's new 10 year plan to repair the damage to both the system and to physical structures.
Today I will be having lunch with the teacher and other students from my art class. We are going to decide what to do about continuing the classes. The location where we used to have classes is so badly damaged that the school, the NHK Bunka Center, has decided to close and move classes to their building downtown. However, they will not open our class again until July, but we want to continue. Today's meeting is to decide if and where we can meet until July.
Apr 27, 2011
This was taken near my building, which you can see in the upper left. The wall in the middle is about ready to fall over. Someone has placed tires, probably snow tires that are usually stored for the summer, next to the wall to keep people away from it.
Life is about to become busy again. I finished last year's classes at the beginning of February and have been on vacation ever since. Full time teachers receive their salary and use this time for research, also there are always meetings. However, I now work only as a part time instructor, no longer a professor, so it has been unpaid vacation time. Normally the vacation period lasts from the beginning of February to around the 10th of April. This year the earthquake caused classes to be postponed for a month. This means that I will start classes again in two weeks.
However, Friday is the beginning of what is known as Golden Week. Friday is a holiday celebrating the Showa Emperor's birthday. Then Saturday and Sunday are the normal weekend. Monday is a regular day but many places give students and employees the day off. Next, Tuesday is Constitution Day, Wednesday is Green Day and Thursday is Children's Day - all national holidays. Friday is again like Monday was, and then comes another weekend. Many people, especially teachers, get as much as a ten day vacation.
In most years Golden Week is a welcome break after the first couple of weeks of classes. This year it marks then end of the spring break and the beginning of the new school year at most universities. I will have my first classes on the first Tuesday after Golden Week.
I suspect that psychologically the end of Golden Week will mark the end of the Disaster Period for me. Instead of hanging around wondering when the next aftershock will arrive, I will be busy planning and teaching. It will feel exceptionally good this year.
Apr 26, 2011
We just had a shindo 3 earthquake, or I should say earthquakes. There were two, about a minute apart. The NHK news first reported one at 6:14 and then another at 6:16 after which they completely ignored the first one. Maybe they decided that it was all one tremor, but we felt two separate surges of power. The quake was M 4.6 at a depth of 70 kilometers.
I guess this is a good place to tell you about an article in yesterday's newspaper. A doctor, who has been treating people in the areas devastated by the tsunami, says that 60% of the people he has seen are suffering from something he is calling jishinbyo, or earthquake sickness. It is related to other motion sicknesses: car sickness, sea sickness, air sickness. I certainly have it and I think that it is the main source of the tension I feel each time we have an aftershock or a warning of one.
Apr 25, 2011
We are still getting aftershocks, but they are getting weaker and deeper. Yesterday I only felt three quakes and they were all less than 2 on the Japanese shindo scale.
Last night just after seven, large red red letters appeared on the TV screen, warning that in a few moments there could be a very strong quake. While I was reading this, my wife's cell phone started screaming in a strident voice, also warning of a tremor. We sat there waiting, blood pressure and anxiety increasing. But, nothing happened. Finally the data appeared at the top of the TV screen - the quake had come and gone without any effect in our area. I am beginning to truly dislike the warning system. The signal that they monitor has only a loose connection to the vibrations that cause the damage. I do not know the actual figures but I would estimate that on about 30% of the warnings predict a quake that we can actually feel. There is a quake every time but about 70% of them do not effect the area where I am when I hear the warning. Anxiety and high blood pressure for nothing! Bah!