Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Got Off Very Light Here in Hamamatsu

The Shizuoka earthquake yesterday morning injured 112 according to today's Japan Times. Here in Hamamatsu, there appears to have been little or no damage. Elsewhere in the prefecture, people went without power and water. An expressway shoulder collapsed, inconveniencing some motorists. And a Sapporo beer brewery in Yaizu suffered the loss of hundreds of bottles, leading several confirmed beer drinkers to buy extra during their daily booze purchases at the local combini as a hedge against possible price-hikes or shortages.

The Japan Times story states this is the first quake of magnitude 6 or more recorded in Shizuoka since 1944.

It's not the earth-rumbling itself that makes me nervous, it's what it might be a precursor to. The Japan Meteorological Agency says this earthquake won't lead to the widely-anticipated Tokai quake-- a major disaster that's a geological certainty at some time in the near future. But when the ground starts moving, within the immediacy of the event, you have no way of knowing if the trembling will increase or decrease. That's what's so nerve-wracking. Is it the big one, or is it just another minor shifting in the crust, signifying nothing much at all? Will you be eating breakfast at home and preparing for your routine in a few minutes, or drinking bottled water at a refugee camp that afternoon?

Or are these latest magnitude 6 earthquakes some kind of seismic foreplay leading to the main event this summer? I put some socks and clothes with money and my passport already in the pockets next to my bed last night. I'll probably do that for the next few days at least.

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