Blackout Nippon: April 2011

11. April 2011

Blackout Nippon: Notes from 03/2011

Adam Lebowitz

3/23 Shuzenji, Shizuoka, .0045 MicroSieverts
I write this by candlelight. Interesting times.

Reactor 3 of Fukushima 1 spewed black smoke of an unknown substance this afternoon. Tokyo reported elevated levels of cesium in tap water in excess of those recommended for infants and pregnant women. Same with spinach from Ibaraki, milk from Fukushima (no surprise there) and selected produce from Chiba.
Meanwhile, the number of dead and missing from the combined earthquake-tsunami has officially exceeded 20,000. Hundreds of thousands will likely continue to live in shelters through the summer.

The Great 3/11 Earthquake hit us at home in Tsukuba.

It was early afternoon. My daughter, as it happens, was at home with me. Seven pupils from her first-grade class were out with influenza and the rest given a 2-day sick leave. It was just time for our afternoon snack, and prior to that I was just finishing an e-mail to my mother who was due to come at the end of the month.
My daughter had just come up the small flight of stairs to the dining area when things began shaking. It started slowly and not too differently from countless other quakes we experienced.

Around the tenth second or so, things began to move more violently. I grabbed my daughter and we stood underneath the sturdy kitchen doorframe. Then things began to really move, and I began to hear things falling from their shelves. My daughter rang out with a "Kowai!" which told me something extreme was happening and required decision-making. I made the wrong one - grabbing her and making a mad dash outside - but we lived to tell the tale. I banged-up my shin struggling through the genkan putting on shoes, and once outdoors sat on the ground outside the house as open targets for falling roof tiles.

Adam Lebowitz has lived in Shizuoka, Yokohama, and Fukushima. He teaches at the U of Tsukuba in Ibaraki. A contributor to the literary monthly Shi-to-Shisô (Poetry and Thought), he is an Asia-Pacific Journal Associate.

Recommended citation: Adam Lebowitz, Blackout Nippon: Notes from 03/2011, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 15 No 2, April 11, 2011.

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