"The quake" is a misleading term. Yesterday I said that three earthquakes hit. That was an underestimate. We've had virtually continious afterquakes ever since the 8.9 hit at 2:46 pm local time. By now we hardly care to mention it. Every now and then someone will say "is it shaking?", two others will nod solemnly, and three more will look up nonplussed, as they have gotten used to the wave-like movements. The "crisis room" at the embassy is a mess of laptops, phones, food, empty coffee cups and note pads. We have rotating lists of people sitting "on duty" a couple of hours, then going out for some air, some sleep. If we can sleep. Whether your particular worry is the terrifying images of the tsunami, the security of your family, the nuclear power plants still in danger or the queasyness from the afterquakes, it is difficult relaxing. In fact, anything but work and watching the news (which now is work) is difficult. I've been out a couple of times, checking up on my house and stocking up on food, but I feel far more comfortable at the embassy than anywhere else.
We're coping. In Tokyo there is a strong sense of "business as usual" today - except among the foreigners. This morning I observed fellow expats at the store, white-faced, stocking up on supplies. The Japanese seem calmer. Last night was more "extraordinary" as such, since public transportation was shut down all night. In order to get home from work, people started walking - many of them for hours. The amount of people out in the streets in Tokyo on a Friday night - and for once none of them drunk - was surreal. Many were wearing their earthquake helmets, oddly mismatched with their dark suits and briefcases.
It is hard to understand the magnitude of what has happened. Death counts are slowly starting to rise, but it is likely it will increase further. The risk of a "Chernobyl" as a result of the possibly compromised nuclear reactors is obviously making both us and the rest of the world frightened.
Several of my friends have asked if I need provisions sent to me. The answer is no. As mentioned, Tokyo operates as usual for all intents and purposes (the only thing missing from the store this morning was Greek yoghurt, and the store sincerely appologized for this. I somehow doubt it will be critical...). If I am to ask, though, my request would be your continued support and thoughts (and for those so inclined, prayers). Finally - if you feel like contributing donation-wise, I'd suggest to direct your attention to the areas affected by the tsunami rather than Tokyo. We are fine, they are not.
I'm very grateful for your support, and again - I will try to update here as soon as I can.