Japan has a long history of living with natural disasters. The nation has to contend with typhoons, volcanic eruptions, tsunami and earthquakes way more than any country should have to.
Last night there was yet another big earthquake here. The recent trend for these major earthquakes, for some reason, is for them to occur late at night. This one struck at around 11:30 p.m.
Where I am, I first got a notice on my phone that there was an earthquake up north in Miyagi Prefecture. I didn’t think much of it, though. Earthquake notifications grace my phone so often I react the same way I would to a weather forecast. It has to be a big earthquake to really grab my immediate attention.
A few minutes after the notification, however, the power went off in my place. That’s never happened before. I was suddenly thrown into complete darkness and utter quiet.
Then the ground began to shake. It feels like you’re on a table that someone is strong enough to move back and forth in a swaying motion.
The earthquake lasted about a minute, with the swaying of the ground gradually slowing until it came to a stop.
The power didn’t come back on, though. I found flashlights and checked around the place for any damage. Finding none, and breathing a sigh of relief, I picked my way through the dark and silent home until I got to the front door. I wanted to know if the entire area was affected by a power outage or just me.
Darkness greeted me outside, and a kind of quiet I hadn’t expected. I was assuming I’d see other neighbors out curious like I was, but it was like everyone had been abducted. I started thinking about zombie apocalypse movies that I think must have scene likes this. The quiet, the dark, the lack of nightly sounds like people coming home late from work. There was nothing. I quickly went back inside.
It’s amazing how events can completely change your train of thought. Not twenty minutes before, I’d been about to sleep, thinking about the day ahead. Now, I was wondering if the power would ever come back on, if I would need to evacuate, if I had enough dry food to survive, cursing myself for not buying more bottled water. Would there be a bigger earthquake? The swaying earthquake could’ve just been a prelude to the main destructive symphony.
Luckily, so far, where I am seems fine. The power came back on at 4 a.m. Everyone here is going about their lives like nothing even happened last night. I think maybe people living here are just so used to natural disasters that it has to be catastrophic to bring their lives to a halt.
So many events in life can be like a body slam into an alternate timeline. One second you’re doing all right in a relatively peaceful reality, the next you’re in complete survival mode. It made me think of how so many people in the world have had this happen to them, and how the two modes (what I like to think of as “Thriving mode” and “Survival Mode”) can be switched so abruptly.