Bloody hell, today was a bit mad and came totally out of the blue. This is definitely the craziest thing that has happened since I arrived in Tokyo; I mean really it was incredible: I managed not to make a complete arse of myself in today’s conversation exam. Neglecting the fact that upon being asked if I had received any help from a friend since arriving in Japan, I said ‘Have you tried telling the teacher’, it actually went reasonably well. I still had difficulties in telling the woman in the bakery that I wanted to eat my croissant outside of the premises, but hey you can’t have everything.
Oh yes, and there was also the small matter of an earthquake. I had just started the process of cleaning the house, a treat to myself after this morning’s test, when the first tremors started. After my recommended 30 seconds they were still going, and so I moved to the front door. It was at this point that the whole building began to shake violently, and so I took the step of turning off the electricity at the mains. As I stood in my doorway I contemplated the advice that I had been given at the earthquake simulator, but as I approached my table I realised that as it was only a little over 10 inches high, the doorway was probably the better option. From this vantage point I could see the telephone wires swaying wildly in the winds, but rather worryingly nothing seemed to be moving as wildly as my apartment block; I tried to put this down to the fact that both sets of buildings were moving, and so relatively one appeared to be moving more than the other because of my frame of reference, but I remain unconvinced. After the main quake (8.8 at the epicentre, in the sea east of Sendai in Northern Japan), which was the largest in Japan since records began 140 years ago, I felt really sea sick for quite some time, and the aftershocks are believed to continue for the next month or so. The craziest thing was just how everything seemed to get back to normal so quickly, and whilst the streets were rammed because the trains were cancelled for a safety measure, the region where I live was really not very badly affected at all. In fact the biggest state of emergency in my local vicinity was the fact that the local convenience store had completely run out of bread based goods; this was the result of panic buying, but why only all of the delicious cakes and sweet breads were gone I do not know. I know that I am really lucky, and I shudder to think what would have happened if the epicentre had have been nearer the mainland; especially because the only word that I could understand in the safety announcement was bleeding ‘tadaima’ (a greeting used when you return home)!