I Lived In Japan

For the first 6 months I lived in Tokyo, where they experience *tremors* several times EVERY day !

This happens because The main island is situated where 4 plates join.  They are constantly re-aligning themselves, giving the *tremor* effect.

For the most part the average citizen doesn't notice them or worry about them......I imagine it is a bit like Tsumani alerts on Hawaii...locals generally  ignore them .

However, I noticed the *locals* get very edgy when they don't feel them regularly, because this means there may be a big quake rather than a rumble.

I can remember teaching a class of children and the kids mouth's dropping open as they watched the light fittings above my head begin to sway vigorously !    ( guess my lesson wasn't that interesting)

When the earthquake hit Kobe in  January 1995, the Japanese, who pride themselves on being prepared (because they live with daily tremors ) found out that they were so helplessly under prepared, they were embarrassed !

Shinkansen   (Bullet train) tracks and the highway into Kobe, snapped like toothpick in several places,   ( they were built to withstand earthquakes)   Houses burned to the ground because the building materials and style hadn't changed since the BIG Tokyo Quake decades earlier,even though they were post-quake built ! THEN to make things worse, the Government took FOUR DAYS to get emergency supplies into the city.

Kobe is the home of the Yukuza (Japanese Mafia)   and THEY threw their doors open and gave away food, water and blankets to anyone who wanted them....the queues went around blocks.   

Kobe looked like it had been stomped on by Godzilla and them vomited upon.

The Japanese did not handle the emergency with the focus and precision you would imagine......they let areas of Kobe burn, as *ethnic cleansing* , this caused outrage as firefighters admit being ordered to "let  it burn"      

The Americans offered to anchor an aircraft carrier in the port so the Japanese could use it as an emergency hospital, but the Japanese pride got in the way, and they refused the help.....I'm absolutely sure many people died unnecessarily as the result .

Many foreign companies base their offices in Kobe, so much of the staff are non-Japanese.   The most common reaction to the lack of focus by the Japanese Government was simply to use helicopters to fly staff and families to either Osaka or Nagoya airports where everyone was flown to Hong Kong and dispatched home until the infrastructure was sufficiently repaired to begin business again.

Funny outcome:   4 of the world's top banks have their head office in Tokyo, and the government had been spending years trying to get these banks to de-centralize to Kobe because one big earthquake in Tokyo could ruin the world banking situation as we know it !
c8lorraine c8lorraine
5 Responses Sep 1, 2010

Ironic we have been talking about earthquakes at this time... I just heard about Christchurch New Zealand.<br />
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*Curious Sgt* - the Yakuza were present all over the city, helping out in more ways than the Red Cross! Strange, I know, but they do adhere to a compassionate code not seen in regular Japanese people.

Thank you eyeno, I am still to this day, surprized that the Japanese would let their own people suffer rather than accept assistance. <br />
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Harmony rather than individualism, is something I learned was very big in the culture, but compassion is not something I saw a lot of during my 6 years living there.<br />
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I understand that there are fundamental differences between cultures, maybe it's part of their history or religion?

Thanks Dedre. Didn't know you spent time in Japan. Have you maintained your language skills, or like me lose 'em if you don't use 'em?<br />
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Like much of Japan; language, culture, landscape, everything comes in la<x>yers.<br />
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I spent several years as a resident, living and working there. As the years past I noticed much below the surface, and I didn't like what i saw. <br />
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I think I stayed about 5 years too long. There was a time when I fell in love with the country and culture.

Wow, I guess being military in japan for 3 years, I never really managed to gleam more than standard-but-nice 'tourist' memories of Japan...I should've gone out more (or rather, gone out to really see Japan, more temples and fewer bars, lol).<br />
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Very interesting post, C8, thank you for it!

Thanks for your comment Andrew, I agree the Yakuza are just regular people in Kobe, but I must admit to being very impressed with the way they came out and helped on DAY ONE not a few days later.<br />
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The *ethnic cleansing* and Japanese pride within the Government upset me though