Its been 2 weeks since the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake hit Japan and today we'll take a look at whats been happening in Tokyo since then.
First photo taken in a small street near our station - we've got a load of streets around here full of personality.
Arrival back in Tokyo a few days after the quake. While folks recommended that we stay away, I just could not bear to watch from the outside and do nothing but hide. Dying is the last thing I'm afraid of - the thing I'm afraid of the most is dying without living my passion and Japan is where my passion has been since I discovered it. The write up and photos of our arrival in Tokyo and post-earthquake transportation situation in this post.
The earthquake was bad - Tsunami was worse and to top everything off, A few reactors at the nuclear power plants at Fukushima were damaged by the tsunami which released radioactive materials into the air.
Due to the nuclear plants being out of action, not enough electricity is being generated so the government put into effect rolling blackouts in the Kanto region (Tokyo is in Kanto). Most of Eastern Japan is now saving electricity as much as possible and thanks to this, the rolling blackouts were put off for a few days. The interesting thing was that many folks complained that the blackouts didn't happen as scheduled!
West Japan was hardly affected by the quake and are not subject to any scheduled blackouts. The reason why they cant just channel electricity from West to East Japan is because both sides run on different electric frequencies. East is 50Hz while West is 60Hz.
The reason why things ended up like this is because during the Meiji period, Tokyo imported its power generators from Germany while Osaka got its generators from the US.
Many electrical appliances would just break if the wrong frequency of electricity was used.
Radiation levels around Japan have been higher than normal and they've found traces in spinach and milk. The levels however are not high enough to cause damage - one of the statistics I saw was that unless one drunk more than 50,000 cups of milk then one would be fine. This chart should put everything into perspective and this article at the BBC may help folks who are still worried.
While we didn't really have any trouble getting hold of food that we wanted to eat, supermarkets and pharmacies had empty shelves like this. Readily edible foods like bread and milk were hard to get hold of depending on the time of day one went shopping. The Supplies Shortage Tokyo post explains some of the reasons why shelves were like this.
A notice from a local pachinko parlor informing us of how they are continuing business but with many lights turned off to conserve electricity.
The word Jishuku means "self imposed control" and is an important keyword used in this disaster. Many companies are refraining from their normal marketing and advertising activities which is one of the reason why most of the ads on TV are public service ones.
Cherry Blossom season upon us very soon. The board on right is a familiar sight during election time - numbers are slowly filled up with posters of political type folks. Vans will be driving up and down the streets with politicians shouting out their names soon too.
Edogawa Park will be lined with a load of cherry blossoms soon. A day before they are in full bloom, folks will typically put out blue mats under the trees as the tradition is to drink, eat and be merry while admiring the cherry blossoms. Photos from last years Cherry Blossom season posted here.
Working on the 3rd floor with good company. This photo taken a few days ago when the news reported how traces of radiation was found in Tokyo water. Within minutes, folks ran out to buy as much mineral water as possible despite the levels being very low.
As for me - the first thing that went though my head was "its now or never" to try my first cup of PG Radiated Tips - tasted good!
Our Mirai Itasha still standing strong against the sun and is due to do so for the next 2.5 years. Regarding stickers for car owners overseas - am meeting Nakamura-san next Tuesday to go over costs and logistics.
My fave figma Yui has an accident - been carrying her around for over a year now ;-;
Anyway, now that you have seen what life is like in Tokyo now, does it change any decisions you've made about coming to Japan? If you was planning to come over to shop and do some sightseeing then your schedule will be unaffected - some shops will close an hour early and you may have trouble getting hold of batteries but that's about it.
As for the radiation levels - Japan's standards are so stringent anyway that even if levels are above normal for Japan, its still way below the levels in many cities worldwide - Google should provide you with more info.
Previous editions of A Week in Tokyo listed below.