Are we on a boat?

14 03 2010

No, it’s just the longest lasting earthquake we’ve experienced in Japan. Long enough to develop sea-legs.

Not that strong – only a magnitude 2-3 on the JMA scale, but long lasting compared to most quakes we’ve had here (a couple of minutes).

Most of Japan would have felt it too, at least all along the northern and eastern parts.

Night time quake

17 02 2010

First quake that I remember while sleeping. It felt like the middle of the night, but the JMA website said it was at 5am. We both woke up when it started, and I felt the floor move and I think the windows rattled. It was only a magnitude 2. Earthquakes are the trade-off for hot onsens.

from JMA

Week of quakes

24 12 2009

Recently we’ve had lots of little tremors. The longest earthquake I’ve ever felt (although not very strong) came this morning while I was still in bed. We also had one late at night while sitting on the couch that felt like rolling waves underneath us. Fortunately, none of the earthquakes have been stronger than 2 in magnitude by the time they reach us. It’s easy to see how you could be lulled into a false sense of security with all these tiny quakes, forgetting that sometimes huge earthquakes hit Japan and destroy houses and lives.

Later this morning another quake hit and its effects were felt all the way along the eastern edge of Japan – from Chiba-ken up to the top of Hokkaido.

This week I’ve been busy preparing foods for Christmas day luch. The day after Christmas we head off to Sendai to view the Winter Illuminations and one of the 3 scenic sites, Matsushima. After New Years we travel to Hakuba to go skiing for the first time and visit the famous snow monkeys.

Earthquake Alert

25 08 2009

We were woken up at 6.43am this morning with our phones beeping crazily. We both received earthquake warnings (in Japanese) that are sent to phones a few seconds before major quakes hit. Strangely, we felt no tremors and it seems that no effects occured from the sea-based quake off to the east of Chiba prefecture. Must have been a false alarm, but we’ve gotten a bit scared from visiting the Kobe Earthquake Museum and seeing what destruction can occur after earthquakes. Just as well, as it took us half an hour to translate the message to make sure we weren’t in any immediate danger.

Kobe, city of earthquakes

14 08 2009

We were told that we had to leave the house by 7.30am so we got up early and had porridge for breakfast and headed out.

We took the subway to the JR station then caught a train to Kobe. We arrived in Kobe a few minutes before the tourist centre opened so we waited to collect a map and get directions to the Earthquake museum.

We caught a train to the museum and wandered around on the tour. There were videos, movies, simulations, models and lots of photos and written materials about the massive earthquake (“the Great Hanshin Earthquake”) that hit Kobe in January 1995. About 6000 people died in this earthquake and huge amounts of damage done to buildings, bridges, railway lines and other infrastructure like water and electricity. The first time Benno came to Japan on his school trip was a few months after the earthquake and the shinkansen lines had only just been repaired.

After the museum we caught the train back to the station and went to the only veg restaurant in Kobe, Modernark pharm. It was a very popular place and they had great food, including burgers, curries, raspberry soymilk lassi, soy latte, sesame shortbread and cakes.

After lunch we caught a train to halfway between Osaka and Kobe and visited the Tezuka Osamu manga museum. Osamu Tezuka was a famous manga artist and drew comics such as Kimba the white lion (from which Disney stole the Lion King plot) and Astro Boy.

We caught the train back to Osaka and went to dinner at a french vegetarian restaurant far away from the city. We caught 2 train lines to get to the station, then had to find a bus to go out along the highway. We weren’t sure where to get off but the bus driver helped us and eventually we found the restaurant. We had vegan ome-rice (omelet rice, a japanese favourite) made with yuba or tofu skin, and risotto. Then we had mango sherbet for dessert. It was already getting late so we found the bus stop, caught a bus back to the station and then a train back to Osaka and then subway back to our host’s apartment.

Our first earthquake

6 06 2009

We just experienced our first earthquake in Japan (well, the first that we felt). The earthquake hit at 2.52pm and was felt all the way from Chiba prefecture to Shizuoka in the south west, Nagano and Niigata to the north west and Sendai up north in Miyagi prefecture.

From Japan Meteorological Agency,

From Japan Meteorological Agency,

The epicentre was out in the ocean to the East of Japan. 30km deep it was 5.9 on the richter scale, although the Seismic Intensity was only 2 in Kisarazu.

From Japan Meteorological Agency,

From Japan Meteorological Agency,

I was sitting in a chair at the dining table when I felt the chair and floor sway underneath me, like when on a boat and the waves rock the boat. After about 30 seconds it passed – no damage was caused, although I still feel a bit seasick…