Monday, 28 March 2011

Tokyo 28 March

Things in Tokyo seem much the same. As yet blackouts don't affect us - most of the central Tokyo 23 ku do not have blackouts - to do so would put the above ground rail lines out of action.  JR runs its own electric system to power the trains, but the level crossings rely on power from the general supply. The same goes for traffic lights.  There is talk though of the area for blackouts being extended which may include all but the very centre - Minato, Chiyoda, Chuo and perhaps Shinjuku local govt. areas.  It would seem fairer, though the city can't function if the public transport doesn't work.
Shinjuku Labi (Yamada Denki) televisions are
all off.
The summer is supposed to bring massive rolling blackouts - in the past I have written about the heat island and the dependence on aircon in the summer....  power usage surges in the summer as people who have become accustomed to aircon keep cranking it up (a bit like me in winter with the heater...).   For the mean time though night baseball, night golf driving ranges, night anything is being curbed if it involves light. .

Foreigners are leaving. Most I expect will return, but some won't.  The other day we were on the train and there was a group of what seemed like Chinese students making their way to Narita with oversized bags.  I haven't seen any statistics on the number of foreigners handing in their ID cards as they exit Japan (which would indicate an intention not to come back) but I am sure there are a lot.  I had lunch with a friend the other day who said 20 of her friends / acquaintances  have left - some with plans to return, some with none.  On the bright side it might cure the glut of English teachers....

Hiro is flat chat at work. He is involved with a program to ship feedgrain from Kyushu to livestock farmers in the affected areas through the port in Akita. In addition to people being without food, farmers have also been unable to get grain to pigs and cattle.  The situation with dairy farmers is grim, especially in Fukushima where cows are being milked and all the milk thrown away for fear of radiation.  In most supermarkets now all produce is being labelled by prefecture - there had been a tendency to do so before - but it's much greater now. Buying produce with Ibaraki and Fukushima labels (the areas near the nuclear plant) for most people is akin to self injecting with a syringe found on the beach.  I've been trying to make a point of buying them, because they wouldn't be being sold if they were irradiated - and what a miserable situation for the farmers -  but the whole prefecture is tainted in the public mind and products  are increasingly difficult to find.

I read today that there are an estimated 30,000 dead or missing.  The number could well increase, and the final number will never be known.  By any standard it's horrific.  That said there are a lot more survivors than casualties.  The earthquake struck at 2.46.  Had it been half an hour later, school children would have been on the way home and many many more of them would have died.  As it was, many were kept in school until the tsunami situation was clearer.  I heard second hand that there are likely to be an estimated 1,000 + orphans. It seems a very high number, but it's quite likely many families had 2 or 3 children at school.   The primary schools are designated as evacuation centres and tend to be set away from the sea.  It will be a huge challenge to find a way for the children to have a better future.  Fostering children out in areas away from the Sanriku would be adding tragedy to tragedy; it will need a much more creative solution.

Some photos mostly of today in Tokyo.
Kita senju station the other day at 2pm or so! Seriously minimum lights.

Kita Senju - every second light is off.
A hostel that mostly has medium term foreigners... it looks like some
are moving out ... a lot of foreigners have been leaving -
spooked by bad information. Also I expect there is a big decline in
work for hostesses (this hostel has quite a few hostesses staying there - it's a
perfectly legit profession, despite impressions to the contrary)
The other day a Chinese man in Nagasaki who was here illegally
 offered himself for deportation to immigration to escape...
The camera adjusts automatically - but it's much
darker than usual - the circular lights on the ceiling are all off.
I much prefer the subways on reduced light - much easier on the

Mostly office lights only in Marunouchi

Oazu building - street lighting is off in Marunouchi - there
is enough from the building even though the shops inside
are also on reduced light.


Gaijin Wife said...

That was very interesting. The news doesn't really portray it how it is in Tokyo central. I saw the news about the milk farmer. Very sad. As if the earthquake and tsunami weren't enough for a country :(

Anonymous said...

thank you for the information in tokyo it's very hard to find and video of people talking from they're homes about what toyo is really like is the past weeks i have been looking everyday and can't barely find anything. it's like tokyo is cut off from the outside world to me here in california. i'm looking for personal cam vids of peoples experience and everyday life.

Cecilia said...

GW I hope you are having good fun down your way tonight!

Jon, if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.

Anonymous said...

How about the elecricity on 7 april?
I am going to visit tokyo between 25/04 and o2/05.
Probably it would be my only visit to Japan and I do not know completly what I have to do... Additionally I am afraid a little bit of radiation from Fukujima...

Cecilia said...

Electricity is probably improving - the rolling blackouts are winding down which means fewer train inconveniences. The centre of Tokyo is perfectly functional though in electricity saving mode.
Electricity saving mode has several effects:
escalators in many cases are not working, lights are toned down including neon lights, and many museums have shortened opening hours. As far as I know all museums except the Edo-Tokyo and the Miraikan are operating again.
In some ways it is a great time to be here - there are so few foreigners & you will have the undivided attention of your hotel staff!
In terms of radiation the levels are low and the food is being screened very tightly.
This is a Japanese site which doesn't seem to go through google translate, but top left hand is the world average radiation level,
Fukushima is the picture below that, Tokyo is the bottom row second from the right.
Second on the top is the amount of radiation on a Tokyo-NY return flight.
The Ministry of Science and Education has this website which monitors the radiation levels in each prefecture.
Apparently even Greenpeace are saying that the MEXT info is correct.

Please come and enjoy yourself!