Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Out yesterday

News this morning here seems brighter on the nuclear front.  A meeting at the British embassy last night put out a statement that Tokyo is too far away to be in danger, that there is no possibility of it being like Chernobyl, that there is massive international co-operation and that the Japanese govt. is being upfront with information.

Tokyo is calm, though it felt ominous last night -  closed shops, trains surprisingly empty, few people on the streets. The trains were less crowded, in part because there were more train services running but in part because it seemed that there were a lot fewer people in the city than usual.  Yesterday we  considered going to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, but like most museums in the city it is shut for the week. In Harajuku - one of the main shopping areas- many shops were shutting early or not open at all.    There has also been panic buying at the supermarket.  Yesterday evening there was no milk, bread, water, potatoes, onions, noodles, tofu, natto (fermented beans) , toilet paper, tissues in the local supermarket  - probably other things as well.  It seems  distribution lines may have  a problem - but we have plenty of food here.  I am not sure how much the supply lines have been disrupted - I will see when we go out today how much restocking has been done.

The situation in the north is much bleaker. In the evacuation centres in the north infrastructure lines are down and most centres have inadequate food.  Hiro was saying last night that people have a one onigiri allowance per day (about 150g at a guess) in many of the evacuation sites.  This is not far from starvation rations.  There were pictures of children scavenging for food in the ruins of houses swept away by the tsunami.  There are so many people displaced, and such damaged infrastructure that it is proving extremely difficult to keep people supplied with food.  Without doubt there will be many more people die in the coming days.

The power supply seems to be stabilizing with some of the scheduled power cuts not going ahead as planned.

I am so impressed with Japanese people.  The other day we were searching out some bread. I asked a shop assistant at a bread shop in Ueno station.  As he pointed to a single loaf of bread (actually it was more like 4 slices) a woman picked it up and he and I both said 'zannen'  (what a pity).   She must have heard us and put it back.  Neither of us bought it.    At the Keisei lines the queue was many hundreds long - it snaked to the corner out of sight.  We were there as the reopened the lines after the scheduled black out. People filed in in an orderly way, no pushing, no shoving, no anger or frustration.  Very good to see.


Theresa said...

I've been so impressed by Japanese people, too. I have a great love for Japan these days.

Anonymous said...

I was calm last night after reading the British and US Embassy statements too. BUT, they did quite a U-turn today. I am staying put for the time being. It sounds like you are around too. Take care!

(We met through Lily)

Cecilia said...

I really appreciate the calm in the chaos.

I saw the news tonight when I got in... I'm still well outside the new 80km...but it's worrying... There seems to be a mass exodus of most of the foreign women I know...

Anonymous said...

In addition to extending to 80km, they are also having their people in Tokyo leave the country too. That's the part that had me biting my nails again for a bit. But I reckon (and hope!) that the Tokyo bit is more due to the inconveniences of power outage, train delays, food shortages.

Cecilia said...

Did you see the NYTimes map ?

Australia has also extended it to 80km and are advising people to leave Tokyo - but as you say it's because of the inconvenience.

I wonder how much of the stockpiled food in kitchens around Tokyo is going to end up as nama gomi once it passes expiry dates...

Hope you are doing well down your way :)