Monday, 14 March 2011


And so Tokyo shakily gets back to its feet, grabbing greedily at the shelves.

Things that have sold out: bottled water, tofu, noodles, bread, candles, batteries, rice, torches, and petrol is running low.

Things we are being told to do: stock up on bottled water, non-perishable food, and non-electric sources of light in anticipation of regular blackouts, fill our baths with water in case the water supply is shut off, switch off all electrics at the allotted times.

Things we are being told not to do: not to worry about impending nuclear doom, not to go to Sendai, not to go to work by train if we can help it (which we are being asked to do anyway, by our bosses), and not to leave the house without a bottle of water and a phone (regardless of whether you are able to use it).

There is a very eerie atmosphere hanging over this otherwise functioning metropolis, interrupted by rolling aftershocks and the official warnings which blast out of little vans and clatter around the walls like gunfire. Trains are running, and then they're not again, and when they're not it means a long walk home (or an all-nighter at the office). Tonight I spent three hours in the dark just waiting for a powercut, which had been announced by loudspeaker from the street but never came, and in the end I gave up and resumed fanatically scrolling through several different news sources at once, each with a different story.

The aftershocks are slowing down, despite a big one this morning of six point something that had me sitting bolt upright in bed and putting on a cardigan, ready to run into the street in my pyjamas. But even when the ground isn't shaking it feels as if it is, and I have taken to glancing at a half-empty glass of water on my coffee table to verify the ripples I'm feeling. Big ones that make the lamp swing are often followed by sirens outside.

It's easy to go a little stir-crazy, staying cooped up at home because it is the right thing to do, pretending you have a clue what a nuclear meltdown even means. I'm torn between rushing up north to be useful (and stop pretending that the earthquake has had any real impact on our lives in Tokyo) and getting as far away from Fukushima as possible. Pride shouldn't have anything to do with this, nor duty, and I am attempting to remove both from the equation.

I tried to relax by re-filling my tub with hot water and sitting in it for a change, but my rubber ducks floated with their heads half-submerged in the water as if they were drowning.

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