Rocked Awake by An Earthquake

I was gently woken at 4:47am this morning to the swaying of my bed.  I headed right to the Japanese Meteorological Agency website to check the numbers – 5.3.  I shouldn’t have felt a 5.3 in my new apartment on the 4th floor so it was pretty close by.  [4.9 on the Richter scale]

Photo courtesy of Japan Meterological Society

Photo courtesy of Japan Meteorological Agency

The horrible tsunami happened March of 2011 and it is still pretty raw (remember looking at every airplane overhead in 2002?).  Over the past 10 months, I have experienced quite a few earthquakes in Japan.

My first earthquake happened in my first week.

It was 6pm on the Friday night of my first week and we were about to close up and head out for a beer. We were in a post-war era building in Tsurumi and the alarms came on.  We shook vertically then horizontally.  And by shook, rocked side to side for about ten minutes.  6.4.

Where were you when it happened?  Since we were not allowed to leave the building, the conversation started about 11 March.  My coworkers recounted being in a very tall, new building in Yokohama and stuck because of flooding.  To give you some context, the distance from Soma, Fukushima to Yokohama is 330km (roughly 4 hours by car).

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

They said the “BIG” one is coming.   I was freaked out and the horror continued when my coworker started talking about the “big” one.  There is published tracking of regular intervals for the Tokai Earthquake and apparently, it’s due.  There are scientists that are saying 70% probability of this major event (8) between 2012-2016.  The population in this area is about 15 million people.

The proper emergency response for an earthquake: stay put because the water is coming.  At the time, I was living on the 28th floor of a hotel on the Yokohama Bay.  Surely, I was high enough but being directly over water made me nervous.

If you are in a new building, you are ok.  The hotel was built in 1998 and while that is pretty new, I was on the 28th floor.  “New” was the first feature I thought of when I went apartment hunting in September.

Hey, can I have your phone number?  Decidedly aware from all of this information that I had no one to contact if something happened so I collected phone numbers that night to keep in my purse.

Hopefully, my one way ticket to Denver will come before anymore Quake Wakes.

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13 Responses to Rocked Awake by An Earthquake

  1. TonyJ2 says:

    It is a wierd feeling, isn’t it? On a short trip in August 2011 I experienced my first, second and third earthquake.

    Like you, one was around 4am and I awoke to my Ueno hotel bed shaking back and forth like an amusement park ride. Thinking that this was ‘a big one’ I got dressed and looked out the corridor window that had a great view up the street. Thinking about my next actions.

    The minutes went by, and not a soul stirred! Just up the road from the Ueno fire Station – not a fire-truck moving or a siren to be heard.

    Well then, back to bed – like nothing happened.

  2. It’s weird how that spooky feeling becomes normal. I’ve felt many less this year than last year, I hope it stays that way!

  3. Oh, man, I feel for you. I remember the first one we experienced in Japan – much like your other commenter’s experience, I guess to everyone else it was so small they just went about their business, but I was freaking out, wondering what to do, (also thinking I needed and emergency contact) etc. I couldn’t even find anything about it on the news that night!

    • Colleen says:

      Apparently, I missed a 7.3 and an evacuation in December while I was in China. And only today when I was googling earthquakes did I realize just how big a deal it was!
      I’m from Jersey, so I remember the blackout shortly after 9/11. I was out of my gourd. Cells were down, etc. Now put me in Japan….. no bueno.

  4. Brent says:

    3.11 was certainly crazy. almost as surreal as watching 9.11 on TV… no words to describe what happened!

  5. Had to tell you – we just had a 5.0 here in Northern Italy – man, I hate earthquakes!!!!

  6. creativeduo2 says:

    I have been in Japan for four months and just experienced my third earthquake last night in Yokohama (5.6 & 78 miles away off the coast). I too am in a high-rise building and boy is it scary when you see the dining room chandelier swaying back and forth! The pantry door was scrubbing against the wall because it was moving too! The funny thing, my girls were sound asleep in their beds and didn’t make a peep! I am thankful for that. I really don’t like the uneasy feeling it gives me, but I am glad that I live in a newer building that may hold up if the big one comes.

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