Word of the Day: Jishin 地震

Well, I survived my first (and hopefully only) earthquake here in Japan. At around 5:30 this morning I was jolted from sleep by my apartment swaying. Once I realized that it a) wasn’t the train and b) I wasn’t dreaming, I jumped up, and stood in a doorway. I think I had seen on a movie once that doorways were safe places to be during an earthquake, or a jishin 地震I later found out this was incorrect…

What it felt like: an earthquake. Everything moved around and I was off balance when I tried to walk. Things in my apartment shook a little, but overall nothing fell off the walls or shelves so I knew it wasn’t a big quake and thank God it wasn’t, because like I said, I didn’t know what to do.

Alerts: I live 1 block from the train station so I heard the announcements over the speakers there, although I had no idea what they were saying. I also learned that I have an earthquake alert on my phone and it went off during the earthquake. The alert was in Japanese also so I didn’t know what it was saying. Because I couldn’t get any info in English in my immediate vicinity I took to Facebook and the internet to find out more. Friends had posted that we definitely had an earthquake and that they were ok and Wiki had immediately posted that we had  a 6.0 earthquake. I did a little research to find out what that meant and I found that an earthquake of that velocity could cause damage and possibly injuries or deaths at the epicenter. I am about 50 miles away from the epicenter on Awaji Island in Sumoto, so the quake was not as strong at my house.

(I am A and the epicenter was Sumoto, near B)


Aftershocks: I was later told at work that we had 2 aftershocks after the initial earthquake. I believe I felt both of them but thought they were the train passing by (my apartment shakes a little). When I was told the trains had shut down, I realized that I must have felt both aftershocks.

What happened in the aftermath: Since I don’t speak Japanese, I quite often have to get my information from other people around me, personal experiences, or the internet. What I was told today was that many trains stopped and several of my coworkers were late for work. The elevator in my apartment automatically shut off. My Japanese coworkers said that they didn’t think it was a very dangerous earthquake while it was happening because nothing fell off the walls so they went back to sleep. My American coworker and I both had huge adrenaline rushes, had a hard time going back to sleep, but eventually did 🙂 The news stated that several people were injured but there were no deaths. My biggest fear was a tsunami – I’m a mile or two from the ocean and I definitely checked out the window for a while after the initial quake.

What I will do now: research what I should do in case of an earthquake. I live by the blog Surviving in Japan Without Much Japanese and I have found a great post there. I’ll be reading it here!


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