A Day in Japan – Earthquakes and Heatwaves (30th of May 2015)

I wake up at 8 am because it’s already warm. Summer holiday warm. Too warm to keep sleeping. I get up and sort out my suitcase mess. Take a shower that nearly gives me a heart attack because I didn’t know how to switch on the hot water. Hear Dan in the other room, telling his alarm clock to “fuck off”. Fair enough, it’s his day off. We go to a supermarket to get some breakfast and eat it in a beautiful park nearby. We watch kids learning how to ride a bike. When other kids run by with nets, chasing butterflies, I feel transported back to a past time. The atmosphere is peaceful. Kids are playing, parents are there for them (there is an unusual amount of fathers around), none is crying or fighting. The trees are moving in the wind above us and the breeze feels good. This would be perfect weather to have all year around…”yeah, IN THE SHADE!” (Dan).

At noon, Dan shows me the way to the train station and the heat is beating down like there is no tomorrow. I can feel a headache coming and feel exhausted. They said August would be extremely hot, but since this is only end of May, I can’t imagine how it can get much hotter than this. We get ice cream on the way back (pineapple and chewing gum flavor) and are happy to continue the “lazily laying around”. Dan is brave enough to venture out into the heat again to meet a friend, but I stay where I am. For the next half of the day. I don’t think it’s jet lag but just sheer exhaustion from the trip, which included taking 2 planes, 1 unpleasant experience of food poisoning (which resulted in being put in first class and delighting the people there by making great use of one of those handy paper bags), 2 hour train delays in Tokyo because of the 7.6 earthquake that happened South of Japan just right after I landed, and waiting outside Dan’s house, that, even for a Tokyo taxi driver, took a long time to find. (I’ll forever be grateful to him for not just abandoning me but to walk around the block again and again with me for about 30 min at 2 am until we found the right apartment door. We woke up several innocent people in the process.)

In the evening I go back to the supermarket (that is open 24 hours…bless the people who work at night!) to get dinner. I feel tired and ready to go to sleep early when I hear loud air-raid like sirens in the very near distance. I put on my shoes because that’s all I can remember about emergencies in Japan – to put on your shoes. I go outside to find more people who have done the same. No one seems to understand what the sirens are about. Several people start running into the direction of the sound. Puzzled, I stay where I am. After a few minutes, the sirens stop. What now? I go back inside, thinking how NOT ready I am for major emergencies. But seeing how clueless the people just seemed on the street, I’m wondering if anyone is ever really “ready” for those things. There is so much I have to learn about the Japanese attitude of “Shouganai”, the staying calm because certain things can’t be helped. Lucky for me, transferring trains at Shibuya station at rush hour tomorrow morning (to get to my house hunting appointment) will give me another chance to do so.

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