Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
11 March 2011 (14:46hrs) is now a day that will haunt Japan forever. It was just a day after we celebrated our son’s Hatsu Tanjo (First birthday). Like any other day, Baby was taking his afternoon nap while I was glued to my computer. Then the house started shaking violently. Instinctively, I grabbed Baby and joined my MIL under our dining table. The strong tremors continued and we could hear the house creaking and things falling.
Shortly, the Kinkyu Jishin Sokuho (緊急地震速報 / Earthquake Early Warning) interrupted TV programs and announced that Eastern Japan was hit by really strong earthquakes. Particularly, Kurihara City (栗原市) of Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県) in Tohoku Region (東北) had a devastating Shindo 7 – the maximum level in Japanese Earthquake Scale. If based on Richter scale, it was a horrifying magnitude 9, making it the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan.
On the other hand, our home in Chiba (千葉) in the Kanto Region (関東) experienced a Shindo 5 Jyaku (震度5弱). So far, in my brief two-year stay in Japan, I’d experienced nothing more than a Shindo 3. Having been through a Shindo 5 was enough to shake me up.
Shindo (震度) or Seismic Intensity describes the scale of Japanese earthquake
by Japan Meteorological (JMA) in 10 degrees:
0 (imperceptible), 1, 2, 3, 4, 5-Lower, 5-Upper, 6-Lower, 6 upper, 7.
To make matter worst, I am not sure where is the safest place in our house to run for cover. Until recently, we were told to dive under a sturdy table for immediate protection. However, after the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake, a disaster researcher said on TV that taking cover under a table, contrary to popular belief, is not advisable. Instead, one has a better chance of surviving if they are crouching along the roka (廊下 / corridor). She explained that a table, especially if it is in the middle of the house, is most likely to be crushed if the ceiling or second floor comes down.
Ever since I learnt about this, I got really confused. Furthermore, we don’t have a corridor. So now, every time an aftershock occurs, I will lose time to decide whether to cringe against a corner wall, or curl up next to a big furniture, or giving our sturdy-looking dining table another chance. And to make matter worst, I have yet to figure out how to lug a one-year-old baby and two cats (one of them is over 9kg!) at the same time.