Surviving Earthquakes and Typhoons in Tokyo

I’m certainly having an exciting holiday in Tokyo this year. Sunday saw me experience my first ever earthquake. It happened about 8pm when we were eating dinner in a restaurant in Roppongi Hills. It occurred off the eastern coast of Japan and was magnitude 6.9. Japan has it’s own scale for measuring earthquakes and in Tokyo we felt what was known as level 4, described as the following:

Many people are frightened. Some people try to escape from danger. Most sleeping people awake.
Hanging objects swing considerably and dishes in a cupboard rattle. Unstable ornaments fall occasionally.
Electric wires swing considerably. People walking on a street and some people driving automobiles notice the tremor.

So reasonably hardcore. I wasn’t scared though. No sir, not me. Weaker men might have crumbled but not I. My nickname in the office is Mr Norris after all. I’m THAT tough.

Earthquake Levels - 9th August 2009 -

Earthquake Levels - 19:56 9th August 2009 -

When the quake started, I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was some heavy machinery being used or something but then it kept going and going and climbing in magnitude until eventually the whole building was shaking. I was totally dumbfounded until my wife told me it was an earthquake (she barely blinked). When it ended, an automated message came over a speaker system informing everyone that there had just been an earthquake. Fun stuff.

I thought that quake would’ve been the end of my holiday adventures but then at 5am on Tuesday morning we were awoken by another one. Again, it was of similar magnitude as the one on Sunday but I think because it occurred in the middle of the night it was especially freaky. It didn’t help being on the 35th floor of a skyscraper and hearing all of the earthquake proof mechanics squeaking behind the walls either :) I remember lying in bed wondering how long it was going to last as the whole building kept shaking. Eventually it passed and all was well. Then came the typhoon.

If you’ve been following the news you’ll have seen the passing of Typhoon Morakot over Taiwan and China and Typhoon Etau over Japan. Fortunately the latter one was relatively minor (comparatively in the grand scheme of things) and by the time it hit Tokyo it had been downgraded to a tropical storm. We weren’t sure how severe it was going to be for us but it turned out to barely have any effect on Tokyo life. I feel kinda bad saying that because several people were killed when it struck the western coast of Japan so my thoughts and sympathies go out to all of the families effected by it.

One thing that was very interesting me to me was how the different news networks covered the events of the typhoon. The American news (CNN) seemed to go ape-shit about how dangerous Etau was and reported the events in a fast paced, adrenaline filled manner that would’ve freaked any viewer out completely. Comparatively the Japanese news was reported in a very calm, precise and informative manner. They told us exactly when the typhoon would be passing (and I mean the exact times of each stage) and how it would effect people. I can’t stress enough how calm it was dealt with compared to CNN who seemed to be hyping the entire thing up into the mega-storm of the century. Goes to show the power of the media and the effect it can have on the public.

So that was my fun with natural disasters in Tokyo. Don’t let it put you off having a holiday here. At least we didn’t experience one of the dreaded and highly infamous “Godzilla Attacks”. I hear one of those can cause serious delays on the subway.

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  1. guaka says:

    Hey, things have been pretty exciting here in Scotland too. They forecast some light rain but it moved north before it got here… so, ummm, that was…

  2. Kris says:

    Actually, his nickname at work is Mr Norris McWhirter, after this guy:

  3. [...] place. I had an incredible time and I feel reinvigorated and re-energized and not just because I survived two earthquakes and a typhoon although those things do help give you a little perspective on [...]

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