Earthquakes are a normal part of life in Japan. Actually, it’s one of the most seismically active places in the world. The devastating tsunami caused by a large earthquake last March, causing the subsequent nuclear disaster, is out of the news in North America but it is still a part of daily life in Japan. Here newspaper headlines talk about food safety, reconstruction, and the general struggle of those coastal communities decimated by that event.
When we signed the contract for our year in Japan back in June, it was after extensive and exhausting research about whether or not we’d be safe and healthy in this environment. I was afraid because a) I consider my primary duty in life for the next several decades to be keeping my baby safe from reasonable risks and b) I have a crippling fear of certain natural disasters, namely earthquakes and tsunamis. Japan is a perfect fit right?! But reason and logic (the only things keeping me from going over the edge most days of my life) won out and we made the choice to come.
It wasn’t long after arriving that I felt the first earthquake. Just a rumbling, things shaking slightly, the sound of a large truck passing nearby.
While it was happening, I stared Dave straight in the face giving a look which I like to think he interpreted as ‘You did this to us. YOU DID THIS TO US.’ Then it ended. Wasn’t that big of a deal. We survived and none of our Japanese neighbors even blinked. So then I gave a look that I hope said ‘Sorry! Whatever I just said through that evil glare was not what I really meant! LOVE YOU!’
Then it happened again. And again. And every couple of days, mostly at night. And I’d reach over and touch Dave’s arm and then it would be over and I’d go back to sleep. In the morning I always check the USGS website and see what that one registered on the Richter scale. Anything is the 4 or 5 range seemed normal, always off the coast of Honshu, the island we live on. More like the volcano we live on, but whatever.
Last night, however, we were woken around 10:30pm (yes, we were fast asleep…we consider 9pm a nice late night, don’t judge) by A LOT of shaking. Or at least what I personally consider a lot of shaking, not having lived with earthquakes as a part of my life before this. Within 3 seconds were both staggering down the hall to the baby’s room, standing over her just in time for the quaking to halt.
We tiptoed back to our bed, because if an earthquake didn’t wake the baby I’ll be DAMNED if I’m going to do it. I sat on the edge of the bed, a little rattled.
me: That was scary.
Dave: Yea, that was the biggest yet.
me: I didn’t like it.
Dave: Sometimes there are aftershocks, but try to sleep.
me: Ok, but what should we do if…Dave?
FOR REAL!? I’m just sitting on the end of the bed, contemplating how to best rescue my baby if another earthquake comes along after being vibrated down the hall not 2 minutes earlier, and Dave is DEAD ASLEEP. After feeling annoyed, I felt tired, so I tried to follow his lead and rested my head on the pillow.
Today, when I checked the USGS site I expected to see HUGE numbers about this HUGE earthquake. And it wasn’t that huge. Just a 5.2, but not off-shore, on land, maybe 20 miles from our house.
And today things are normal as they ever were.