a new fear has arisen day after day

The water supply got contaminated by a radioactive material which amount was above the intake limit for babies. A few days earlier, a dangerous level of radiation for overall intake had been detected on spinach from the areas near the exploded nuclear power plant.

Since the earthquake hit Japan, a new fear has arisen day after day. This time, the TV news showed a long line of people at stores, who came to buy bottled waters. The water in my town was also contaminated over the intake limit for babies temporarily, but now the amount of a radioactive material has dropped and the water is drinkable. I look up the readings of radiation for the area I live in on the Internet everyday and fluctuate between hope and despair. Aftershocks and scheduled blackouts still continue. Worries and fuss that I had regularly had about a move to my new place seem so trivial now. Just surviving is fortunate enough. Being able to use electricity and water supply is fully grateful. For the first time, I found myself longing for cherry blossoms to bloom soon…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

the whole neighborhood falls silent as if people held their breath

Because the earthquake damaged nuclear and thermal power plants alike and caused a serious power shortage, the scheduled blackout has been carried out in the suburbs of Tokyo.

   The place where I currently live is among the targets. The area is divided into groups and the electricity goes out in turn for three hours between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays. Depending on the turn, there are two three-hour blackouts a day. The other day, the power shortage became critical despite of the scheduled blackouts, and the government announced there might be an extensive sudden blackout around Tokyo anytime soon in the evening.

   The announcement came in the middle of speculation that the exploded nuclear power plant got out of control and that doubled my fear. To me, that night was the most frightening time since the earthquake. Fortunately, a sudden blackout didn’t happen. But the days of scheduled blackouts have been beyond my imagination enough. I had thought I lived in a civilized country until the earthquake and had taken electricity for granted. Hours without the power are horrible. Especially at nighttime, I experience total darkness. Houses, traffic lights and neon signs are all blacked out and the whole town is nothing but darkness. It’s much darker than I imagined.

   And somehow, the whole neighborhood falls silent as if people held their breath waiting for the electricity back on. I had never thought I would experience this living in Japan. And when the blackout is over and the light comes back on, I feel like I revived, jumping and shouting for joy each time. That’s been a kind of extreme happiness I had never felt before, but just temporary one. Tomorrow is another day for blackouts…

 

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

my mean big sister : Talking and Reading from Japan by Hidemi Woods

 
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Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

nuclear scare

Things have been getting even worse since the earthquake itself. Adding to the continual aftershocks, daily blackouts and a shortage of food, now we have a nuclear scare. Right after I saw a roof of the nuclear power plant blown off on TV, I looked up the accident of Chernobyl on the Internet to see how far radiation spread. The most affected areas were shown in deep red on the map and they were spotted not only on the site but also miles away from it. The distance between Chernobyl and the furthest reddened area was about the same as the one between the power plant that exploded this time and my apartment.

   Of course a type of the accident, the weather, the wind direction and geography were all different, and I wasn’t sure whether or not the place I live in is far and safe enough. I had to decide if I should evacuate now or going outside was more dangerous. None of this would have happened to me if I had finished moving to my new place sooner without packing so slowly. But now, it’s useless to talk about what I should have done. After all, I decided to stay here because it was far away from the mandatory evacuation area that the Japanese government declared.

   I spent a few days without taking a single step outside my apartment, nor opening the windows, nor turning on the fan. Staying indoors, I learned about the structure and the mechanism of a nuclear power plant. Until the earthquake, I had heard a hundred times the power company say the plant was completely safe even in case of a big earthquake, and I had felt doubtful about it each time. I got furious thinking how they dared build something so dangerous and boast its safety. I know on the other hand, I had enjoyed a convenient life by receiving benefit of the power plant…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

The earthquake in Japan : next day

Aftershocks continued throughout the next day of the earthquake. Because of lack of sleep, I spent the whole day with muddy-headed and of course, with fear. The situation developed on the third day when the power company abruptly began to talk about scheduled blackouts. They said they would make a formal announcement later. As they did so late at night, it was the next morning that I heard about it. They had also announced that the first blackout would start early in the morning and the water supply might stop as well.

   That sent me in a panic mode. To me, the news and the blackout came almost simultaneously. I rushed to prepare for it in a great hurry, shutting down my computers, securing water in plastic bottles and bundling up to stay in the cold room. I had never imagined a power outage was such a frightening thing. On top of that, the scheduled blackout will be carried out everyday from now on, with each of it three hours long, day and night.

   The TV news showed empty shelves of food and batteries at stores because people had hoarded them to stock up. Out of the window, I see a lengthy line of cars toward the gas station all day long. The worst time wasn’t in the shaking of the earthquake. Things are getting worse and worse afterward…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

My Travel hr662

A trip can require an enormous effort. In my case, it starts by making time to plan in a hectic daily life which consumes me with work. Once I manage to find time for planning a trip, a long way to finish it awaits. I search all over the Internet for the best possible deal for a hotel and transportation that suits what I want to do during the trip. I narrow selections, choose the most saving plans, combine them into an itinerary, book everything, adjust my work schedule, and pack. The latest trip I took after that lengthy process was by plane. I could have taken the bullet train since the time that would be  taken to the destination was almost the same because the airport was much further than the train station from my home. But that particular airline carried a limited-time sale so that the fare was lower. My choice was decided on a plane for that reason.

No matter how many times I have flown, I feel nervous each time. Although I know that the chances of a car accident are much higher than a plane crash, that kind of logic doesn’t help me. I see many people drink alcohol before the flight and that shows I am not the only person who is nervous of flying. A long time ago, I took a flight to Dallas. Before landing, the plane was sucked into nasty turbulence. It repeated steep dives several times that gave some passengers screams and vomits. I was in a window seat and seeing the wing in the midst of a thick cloud that told me the plane tilted sharply. I heard something fall and break everywhere. Above all, I was most terrified when I saw the flight attendants panic, who were supposed to get used to and be trained for this situation. The plane finally got out of the thick cloud and I thought I would see out of the window broad highways or the edge of the runway that were common views after the plane descended that much. Instead, what came into my sight were tips of green trees. Because I had never seen trees so closely from the airplane, I was convinced that we were going to crash. I vaguely thought it was least expected that my end was Dallas. Then, the plane stopped descending and flew ahead horizontally. It made turns above trees with a move that was more like a bus’s rather than a plane’s. It seemed to spot the runway by doing so, and we landed safely.

For the latest trip I took, I checked in at the airport and was informed that my flight was delayed for two hours due to machine maintenance. I wasn’t sure if the airplane I was going on board would need further maintenance or a backup plane would fly in from somewhere, but either way, it made me uneasy since it came on top of the existing nervous factor that it was a low cost carrier. After I went through the security check and waited at the gate, the further delay was announced. I finally got on board a few hours behind schedule and the door of the plane was closed. Yet, it remained stationary, and wouldn’t move. The captain announced it was waiting for takeoff permission from the control tower. It sounded absurd because it was a small local airport where the runway was empty and only few flights a day came in and out. Forty minutes passed while many things crossed my mind. Why can’t a takeoff be permitted? Is there any problem? Is that the true reason? Does this plane still have some sort of machine troubles? The cabin was dead silent and tense as other passengers sat quiet and strained for the whole forty minutes. I thought this was the very time when we needed alcohol most. By the time the plane took off and safely finished its 90-minute flight, it was already night and I was exhausted. My elaborate travel itinerary got messed up on the first day though I had made it with full of leeway. The massive delay ate up the time for a meal at the restaurant. The express train I had booked from the airport to the city had long gone.

Flights are always accompanied with troubles. Other than delays, I have had my fair share of troubles regarding baggage, other passengers or attendants. Even so, I don’t hate flying. I don’t know why exactly, but I feel like I become a different person each time I take off and land on the destination. It is as if I jumped into a different dimension where a better version of my life exists. I like that feeling so much that I feel stuck circling at the same spot over and over without any changes when I haven’t flown for a long time. That’s why I need to take a plane to a different place once in a while in order to become a better self even if it’s nervous, risky and troublesome. I might as well stay home just to relax as to travel. It would be peaceful, calm and tranquil for me. But I know I couldn’t enjoy that because staying at the same place without traveling feels like being dead. Travel lets me keep changing so that I stay alive.

The earthquake in Japan 14:46/11/03/2011 part2

Right after the earthquake hit Japan, the first worry I had was a fire. I looked around the outside of my apartment and there was no fire or collapsed house except for some damages of the roofs on neighbor houses.

   The electricity, gas and water didn’t go off. I turned on the TV and the news said the seismic center was 100 miles away from where I lived. Considering the strong shaking I had just experienced and the total mess in my apartment, it was too horrific just to imagine how nearby areas to the seismic center were.

   Big and small aftershocks kept coming perpetually and it was as if I were on a boat. I lost a sense of the solid ground and felt seasick. Most Japanese metropolitan commuters use the train system, but all the trains stopped running. Suburban commuters couldn’t go home and thousands of them stayed overnight at their offices downtown Tokyo, waiting for the train system to resume service.

   I was fortunate to have been working at home. I managed to clear the mess of fallen things in my place and secure the space to sleep by night, but couldn’t sleep because continual aftershocks kept coming at least every 10 minutes. I can consider myself lucky I survived the earthquake unscathed, and also unlucky I encountered a massive earthquake that was said to occur in Japan once in a thousand years…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

The earthquake in Japan 14:46/11/03/2011

Japan experienced the biggest earthquake in its history. When it occurred, I was in the room upstairs of my apartment. At first, I felt faint quivers and went downstairs just in case it grew stronger and I needed to escape outside. As soon as I reached the foot of the stairs, it showed its main force.

   The building began to shake violently and I held the LCD monitor with my right hand and the toaster with my left hand without thinking. The shaking got even stronger and it was hard to stay standing. As a native of Japan, I was supposed to be accustomed to an earthquake since we have one quite regularly. Nevertheless, this scale was surreal. The room swung right and left fiercely and it lasted long. Two heavy pots on the top of the toaster went flying along with jugs and thermoses, as the toaster I was holding with all my strength kept moving madly.

   Even things upstairs were tumbling down the stairs. Until the shake finally stopped, I was vaguely thinking Tokyo was being destroyed completely. While I was still in shock trying to comprehend what had just happened, a strong aftershock came. It was as big as the first one. This time, the big tall shelves fell down throwing everything on them to the floor. I had never been so scared in my life. I was actually crying during the shake, shouting Help! Help! When it was over, the whole floor of my apartment was covered with things and there was no place to step on. I wondered what I had done so wrong that I should have such a terrifying experience…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

money has wings : Talking and Reading from Japan by Hidemi Woods

 
Apple Books, Google Play, Audible 43 available distributors in total.
Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.