Yesterday, an earthquake occurred in Tottori prefecture. It made me remember my first earthquake experience, few months ago. I came several times to Japan, but I had never experienced Japanese earthquake until April 2016. Time passed, but I still remember it very clearly.
The 14th of April, It was around 21:00 and I was alone in my office finishing some work when suddenly several alarms rang out. Everything happened very quickly. First, I thought those alarms came from my office, so I did something wrong on the computers, or some securities problems in the building... But I realized in the next seconds that it was coming from my phones and from the phone that my colleague forget here.
Those alarms were saying “jishin desu, jishin desu..” and the meaning of “jishin” just came back to me : “isn’t it … earthquake!?”
And the floor started to shake, which confirmed me my last doubt of what was occurring.
As I was alone, I had no idea of what I was supposed to do. I had of course seen in some movies people going under desk, but I didn’t know if people really did this for real.
It finally ended, and I was a little bit shocked, because at this moment I didn’t know where it happened, how strong it was, how was the situation outside, and if it was going to happen again in the next minutes.
So I’ve waited there, but in fact I don’t really know for how long. Everything happened so fast and so slowly in the same time. Then a colleague that had another appointment outside, called me for asking if everything was alright, and came back to the office. We put the TV on in order to get some information, and understood it was in Kumamoto.
Later I decided to come home. I went to sleep when at midnight my earthquake phone alarm awoke me.
I am living at the 10th floor, so the feeling was totally different with the first earthquake when I was in my office at the 1st floor.
During the first earthquake, I was surprised because it was shaking from the inside, from the center, whereas I had an image of earthquake movement from right to left, but it was totally different.
However, when I was on the 10th floor, by building was moving from right to left, I had the feeling of being in a boat on the sea.
At this time I know it was in Kumamoto, so I knew it wasn’t so strong here in Fukuoka, and as I live in a not too old Japanese building, the structure is made to resist to “reasonable” earthquake. So of course even if I trust Japanese structures, this is very impressive to feel the all building moving from left to right, so I always had a small doubt inside me: is it really alright!?
Alarms continued all the night. Except some gas leak, there were no big damages in Fukuoka, so I didn’t know if I was supposed to wake up and prepare me to go out after each alarms or not. The worst was in Kumamoto, but how to know if a bigger disaster won’t happen.
In the morning, everyone came to work as usual. When earthquake happened again, we just make a short break, and wait until it ends, and then came back to work like if nothing happened.
Japanese people will always surprise me, imperturbable !!
Some of my colleagues had their families in Kumamoto, and their houses were seriously damaged. But they doing their work as usual. I was wondering why they stayed so calm whereas their families were in danger, and someone told me :
“In fact I cannot do anything, and being stressed won’t stop or change anything of what had or will happen, so all we have to do is wait until it ends.”
So we sort of get used to next earthquakes or after-shocks, and panic had totally disappeared.