Thursday, August 29, 2013

Big typhoon heads toward Kyushu | The Japan Times

Big typhoon heads toward Kyushu | The Japan Times

When it's Friday and I hear the words "taifun" and "Do-yobi" tossed about, I always do a quick Google weather search to see if a typhoon is coming.  There have been 15 typhoons so far this year, with one on its way to Kyushu at this moment.  This isn't to say it will affect Hamamatsu, but since it affects school operations if it does, we have to be aware of the possibility.

The students, of course, anticipate typhoon days the way we used to snow or ice days in Georgia.  A typhoon coming through Shizuoka prefecture means school closings, either cancelling an afternoon schedule or an entire day's worth.  For teachers it means making sure the kids get home quickly and, most importantly, safely.  Then we get to go home.  As adults, how we manage that is our own look out.

This is different from when I worked at conversation schools.  Typhoon days for eikaiwa can mean increased class loads from people who stayed home from work who have lesson tickets to use.  Yeah, too dangerous to go to work or proper school, perfect for brushing up on your language skills.  At my last conversation school, we had a set schedule every week which didn't change for typhoons, although students had more freedom to cancel and make the day up another time.  That's sensible.  We teachers still had to get there, although if situations proved dangerous enough we might have been asked to stay home.

That never happened, so I walked or rode my bike in some interesting gales.  The first was in Toyohashi, which is a windy city to begin with.  The rain that day slashed horizontally, soaking me from shoulders to shoes.  I spent the morning with wet pants and squishy socks.  My umbrella only kept my bald head dry.  The windows to our branch looked more like the glass sides of aquariums without fish.  We might as well have been in Nemo's Nautilus.  Another time, in Hamamatsu, I left work on a stormy night and found the streets eerily, apocalyptically empty.  Traffic lights signaling to no one when to stop or when to go, swaying, unseen shutters banging or awnings flapping loudly.  All that natural energy from wind and rain contrasting with the still streets.  It felt movie-like, or like a particularly atmospheric first-person video game I'd played where you had to accomplish your mission in a trailer park threatened by a tornado (if I'm remembering correctly).

These days typhoons usually mean I spend an afternoon and night without power.  This has happened twice last year, both times typhoons scored bulls-eyes on Shizuoka.  I'm predicting it will happen again this year, but with two of us being affected.

No comments: