Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Caroline and Sarah walked with me to the first floor, down the emergency staircase because we still were unable to use the elevator.  There, the girls inquired about their bus to Kyoto overnight to discover that it was canceled, but they were entitled to a refund.  The hotel staff had filled all their rooms and the price for a single room with a bed was about $170 CAD, twice their normal rate.  The businesses in Shinjuku certainly made their share of money off of the disaster.  The hotel staff was kind enough to let the girls store their luggage overnight and they shared a room with us.

The walk to the convenience store showed a very unique Tokyo.  There are millions living in Tokyo, and millions commuting into Tokyo everyday.  And on that day everyone was stuck where they were.  Literally millions of people were now walking the streets of Tokyo trying to either get home or find a place to stay for the night.  The street was packed.  We were just off of the famous Shinjuku-dori or Shinjuku Street, but the street was by far not a main one, even as we left the hotel, I could easily have counted over 100 people in the immediate vicinity.

Cares were lined up at all the street lights and every corner of the streets was packed with people waiting to cross or turning the corner.  The convenience store was just around the corner and we found food.  But was it ever picked clean.  With every other change of the light, there was a solid wall of people that walked by the Family Mart we were in.  A solid wall of people all dressed neatly in suits and ties holding their briefcases and purses.  A solid wall of displaced Japanese.  A solid mass of black cloth moving past the windows, in one giant block heading towards whatever destination was in that direction.  Every train, every subway, every escalator, and every elevator was not working.  Every person was tired, cold, and hungry.

It was quiet.

There were no car horns honking, no people shouting, no rabble rousing, no rioting, no looting, no buying everything in stock.  Had this been any city in North America, then the sound on the street would have been deafening as each and every person demanded they got their way first, there would have been no food in any store as the masses went into hysteria.  But the Japanese just neatly accepted that, for at least tonight, they were stuck.  They only took what food they needed and waited politely and patiently to buy it.  In North America, we would have rioted to the point where all the stores would have been destroyed.  we would riot for far less, we have been known to riot for anything from our local team losing the game to winning the game.  The true face of the Japanese showed through in this crisis. I can't even say that they didn't know what was happening, their news and TV channels were was all on the disaster, and many of their cell phones pick up the TV signal in the air.  As well as radios, texting, internet, and word of mouth. 

When we returned to the hotel, we made out instant noodles.  One was a simple penne with some form of tomato sauce, another some kind of noodle with some red sauce that  was apparently very hot and some sort of noodle and sauce, both unknowns.  But the last did consist of seafood, much to my fathers dismay.  None of us finished out food that night as we were far too nervous and understandably outright blatantly scared.

The room continued to shake periodically.  Sometimes enough to make me wonder if I imagined it, others to make our TV shake in its place.  The hotel staff came around to check for broken glass.  The hotel seems to have sustained minimal damage, and the most damage in the area, as far as I have been able to see has been to the roofs of the metro stations and to the gas lines.  Some more damage has occurred from the many afterquakes.  All of which has been minimal and just broken glass or shifted doors.

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