(Continued from Part I)
I’m now back in my apartment Yokohama, but after the earthquake, I continued with my plans for a trip to Kyoto. When the earthquake hit, I was packing, cleaning, planning, and getting ready to go. Of course, it wasn’t easy to continue as planned.
My plan was to take a special discount ticket (Seishun 18 Kippu) that allows for unlimited rides on local trains for five days during spring vacation. My first challenge was buying the ticket. Right after the quake, I walked all the way to the nearest JR station at Kikuna, about a half hour away, only to find crowds of people outside the station, the shutter lowered, and no way in to the ticket office.
In retrospect, knowing that trains stopped for hours in Tokyo as the lines were checked causing people to set out on foot for hours to walk home, my desire for normality was a little crazy. I even knew it at the time, but unable to think of anything better to do, I went anyway, and walked back again empty-handed.
The city appeared undamaged. There were no cracks in the sidewalks, no fallen buildings, no disorder even. When I stopped in the grocery store for a loaf of bread, the shelves were full and carefully organized, and the only indication that there had been damage was a strong smell of alcohol in the liquor aisle.
Stopping by at another small shop closer to home, I saw the tsunami sweep across Tohoku in live images on a large screen TV and met a neighbor, who expressed her concern for me. I mentioned my plans to go to Kyoto, and she thought it was a good idea. Our short conversation made me realize I had yet to contact my parents and I hurried off back home.
That night and the next day, aftershocks continuously rocked the city. At some point, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, because the shaking didn’t seem to stop.
Since I spent a good deal of time under my desk, I lay a large cushion on the floor to make it more comfortable and kept my computer there to keep it safe from the possibility of falling books. The computer was also my best source of information. NHK, Japanese public broadcasting, began an online news stream, which I kept on, the beginning of a desperate need for information to gain peace of mind.
At night, I slept in my clothes, with my packed suitcase and bottles of water near the front door, shoes on a piece of newspaper by my futon. The next morning, I got up early eager to leave the aftershocks behind, and set out towards Kyoto on the local trains. . . another outrageous expression of my strong desire to go on with life as usual.
(To be continued. . .)