Archive for March, 2011


I wrote up a whole post while I was in Gifu on my phone (painstakingly) but then I ended up only saving it as a draft and never posting it ahhh. I didn’t even realize until I got home on Monday night and loaded up ye olde WordPress on my computer and now nothing I wrote is relevant !

I had most of the week off last week after all the instability in Fukushima, so I spent a few days holed up in our apartment fretting, watching the news, and reloading twitter obsessively. Noji had work (theoretically) but upon receiving Serious Concerned Dad Email asking us to hasten our trip out to Noji’s family’s house in Gifu, he took some sick days and we got on the Shinkansen that night. Well, not until we marathoned the 5 hours of Damages DVDs we had left. It was a leisurely evacuation.

We had mostly planned to come out this weekend to hang out with the Nojifam anyway, but having the chance to avoid family panic (sorry!), blackouts, aftershocks, and the utter lack of anything at the grocery was enough reason for us to peace out. On Saturday, we went shopping in one of those huge malls that can only exist in the boonies and gorged on shabushabu; on Sunday, they drove us down to the coast of Aichi and we had massive fried shrimp at Maruha Shokudo, then went to look at all the pottery (and big maneki neko!) at Tokoname.

Tokonyan! Which we unfortunately saw from behind first, ruining the illusion.

Noji creepin’.

Creepy-cute characters at a tiny shop in Tokoname.

Huge hanya

Unfortunately, the day we arrived, Noji’s gramma had fallen and hurt her back but adamantly refused to go to the hospital or be checked out, so she was in bed the whole time we were there (!!). Only a month ago, Noji’s mom fell and broke her shoulder, and then Noji fell and banged his chest when he was taking care of Grams a few days ago. Clearly, that house is looking to fell all the Nojimas it can. I somehow managed to escape unscathed.

Otherwise, it was mostly hanging out, eating, and grocery store shopping. Going to the grocery store in the boonies is always fun because they’re massive, for one, and for two, they are stocked to the max. Snacks and sauces and fruits and vegetables I’ve never seen in our crappy Tokyo groceries abound! We are still severely understocked at our local grocers, so it was fun to stock up on some of the things we can’t buy (even normally) in TKO. I also found the face lotion I like at some random drug store by chance, despite months (!) of looking for it at every drug store I cross here. While there are definitely stressors (I now know what it is like to have both in-laws AND an Asian mother), it is a lot of fun to go see Noji’s family.

We both had to go back to work on Tuesday, so we took the slowest. shinkansen. ever. back to Tokyo on Monday night. Attempted to buy milk, but had to stop in several stores before we found any. I’ve heard some people say that their grocery stores are back to normal (mostly), but ours are still a mess. Seeing all the crazy hoarding and panic buying has actually been very telling of how and what people buy, though. For instance, last week the only dry pasta that was left in our grocery store was orzo and lasagna– clearly no one wants to make lasagna, and no one knows what to do with orzo. Also, there was at least 3 different kinds of squid ink pasta sauce left, while everything else had been cleared out. No one likes squid ink pasta sauce, even in a fake emergency!

Otherwise, things are slowly going back to normal in Tokyo. We were spoiled by the lack of aftershocks in Gifu, but since coming back it’s been one after the other. They said on the news that the number of magnitude 5+ aftershocks has been around 350 since the March 11th quake. In Tokyo, they’re not so big, so this mostly means going “… it’s shaking again…” and waiting (hoping?) for it to end. Devastation is still severe in Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima, but theoretically the nuclear situation has stabilized somewhat even if our water is all radiated now. That’s okay, I only drink Coca-Cola.

Work has been a nice bit of normal, but it’s been very slow and my bosses are obsessed with radiation news so today we just ended up ending early as everyone vowed not to drink the tap. Blackouts continue across the eastern part of the country, but luckily our ward hasn’t been affected (yet?). Tokyo is full of people and stores/companies conserving energy (see a graph here that shows the difference from last year). I am going to guess everyone’s going to start laxing pretty soon, but it’s nice to see the effort being made– and highlights all the needless use of electricity in this country.

(I still kind of miss seeing Tokyo Tower lit up, though.)


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monday monday

Around the corner.

Monday night here.

Not much has changed for us, to be honest. We have electricity, gas, and water. Aftershocks continue but nothing too bad.

Going back to work this morning was an adventure. They had us line up to get into the station; the line wrapped around a block and a half. Once we got into the station, they would only let small groups through the turnstiles and onto the platform at a time. Once we were on the platform, every train that came (at 10-15 min intervals) was completely packed. It took about an hour until I was on a train. Awful.

At work, there wasn’t much to do in the first place, so we ended up leaving early. The phones are still unreliable so only about half our calls went through. Sent emails to our clients saying we were okay, took out the stinky garbage, and peaced out around 3pm. Bloomberg Streaming News was a bunch of scare mongering nuclear meltdown BS. I don’t know what else the English media is saying, but I wouldn’t bother listening to any of it.

I went to the grocery but it was pretty bare. No water, no bread, no prepared foods, no rice, no ramen etc. Luckily, Noji’s mom sent us a huge care package tonight with food, 28 liters (!) of water, and earthquake supplies, so we put together a go-bag just in case.

Things are okay, though. Noji just has been biking back and forth to work since the trains are so unreliable. Planned blackouts continue in the area to conserve energy, and I’m sure going to work tomorrow will be just as bad as it was today, but knowing how much worse it could be puts it all in perspective.

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It’s 4am and I slept for a little while, but now I’m up.

My experience was scary and inconvenient, but luckily Noji and I got home safely and that was the end of it. Unfortunately, a lot of places were not as lucky.

I was at work in the ‘pong when it happened– we had a similar slow-starter a few days ago and I told my co-worker then that I always worry about the beginning of an earthquake because you never know if they’re going to grow and be The One or just peter out after a few seconds like they usually do. But then it got bigger and bigger and we grabbed our hardhats and got under the desks. My boss decided that we needed to get out of the building but in my panicky state I remembered vaguely that you’re supposed to stay inside the building until the shaking stopped so my co-worker and I retreated back to our desks. Boss was not happy that we didn’t follow him down, but it really isn’t safe to try to evacuate with that kind of shaking.

Stood outside without our coats for a while. Noji and I were able to text a little bit but none of the telephone parts of my phone worked. So thankful for twitter and facebook to let everyone I knew I was okay! After knowing Noji and my friends were okay, I started to worry about our apartment– did the TV fall? (My boss: “My vases!”)

Finally met up with my other boss and we decided to GTFO of the building (but not after opening beers! Drunk evacuation.) Co-worker and I decided that we would just start walking toward home and hope that at some point the trains started running. So… I walked. With my hardhat.

I work in the Roppongi area and live about 8 miles north from there, but Tokyo isn’t on a grid so there’s no easy way to just walk up. At first I tried to follow my train line, but after it took me almost two hours just to get to Yotsugi (three stations up from where I started), I found a decent route to get me at least to Gokokuji. My phone only had about 50% battery when I left work and it was a constant battle trying to make sure I had enough to get home while checking mail and Maps, but by the time I met up with Noji (4 hours later), I had about 13% left.

So in my 20 dollar Uniqlo heels, I walked! And I walked. And I checked my phone, and I walked. Everywhere around me were either other walkers, full taxi queues, bus stops 50-60 people deep waiting, or busses themselves packed to the hilt with the windows covered in condensation. More walking. It was freezing and windy. After about three hours, I got to Minami Ikebukuro, passing the Toden which had maybe 150 people waiting to get on completely full cars. Another hour or so and Noji and I finally met up. Burst into tears from sheer exhaustion and the pain in my feet, knees, hips. I have been lying in bed for hours and they still burn and throb.

We tried to get some food at a restaurant, but failed and ended up buying useless snacks at the combini thinking that we had food at home. Unfortunately everything at home needs gas to be cooked, and we don’t have any gas. My dreams of a 42C bath were shattered! But everything in our apartment was, thankfully, nearly unchanged from when we left this morning.

It took 5 hours to get home and it was probably about 9 miles since I didn’t walk straight up. Noji borrowed a bike from work and rode for two hours to get home from Katsushika-ku.

When we finally got home, I saw all the images of the earthquake and tsunamis. A lot of what’s going on in Tokyo is inconvenient, but we were very lucky comparatively.

I have an appointment at the hospital tomorrow but I think I have to cancel. I don’t really want to be further than a few minutes walking distance from home for a little while, and I can’t really walk right now either– but it could be much worse.

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I had this whole long, whiny post about my wisdom teeth prepared but then I couldn’t access WordPress and now I don’t feel like whining (as much) anymore. Summary: CT scan showed teeth are in a horrible position, may loose feeling in my chin forever, bad news bears etc. Thanks! I go back for yet another consult on Saturday, I believe to give the oral surgeon another chance to make me cry.

I slept a decent amount but today I must have been feeling extra sleepy because I slept right through my stop on the train. The train I take actually ends at the station after mine, so a nice lady tapped my shoulder (but from far away like I was a snake) to wake me up as if to say, “It’s time to get off the train…!” Feeling an odd mixture of both gratitude and panic, I took the train back one station and ended up getting to the (empty) office at 9:02am. セーフ!Considering the amount I sleep on the train, I’m surprised that this is only the second time I’ve slept through my stop in a year. Go responsible irresponsibility!

Speaking of responsible, I went and filed my taxes last week. Even though my tax return will inevitably go to paying the ridiculous residence tax in June, I cannot wait until it is in my grubby, deduction-seeking hands. A lot of Japanese people don’t know how to file income tax because most companies do it for you, but now I am a resident expert on taxes and impacted wisdom teeth. Noji even sent me a text after we left my dentist consult, “You know so much about teeth! I’m impressed.” Anyway, did you know that if you spend more than 10man on medical care (I didn’t), you can get some refunded? Or if you’re a hostess (I’m not) you can deduct fancy dresses and makeup? Maybe I could deduct all the +J work clothes and sensible shoes I bought last year.

PS is this sudden sore throat allergies or a cold………. 😐

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As a result of the WordPress DDoS attack last week, for some reason my IP has been included in the filters WP put up– hence I can’t access my blog from my computer right now. Things should probably be back next week, but jeez, what a mess.

In other news, it snowed today in Tokyo. I think I can officially bid farewell to winter any day now.

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