As you may have heard by now, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit Osaka, Japan early this morning (Sunday at 10:00 pm PDT).
Less than 60km separates Osaka and Kyoto, the latter city of course being where Gordon Price, his travel partners and the SPUR study group are winding down the trip’s final days. All is OK for them. Fewer posts than usual today, but you understand why.
That said, interesting snippets below from the experience.
Nothing like topping off a Japanese trip with a good earthquake. And this morning in Kyoto was a good one – 6.1 (out of 7) on the Japanese seismic scale (5.1 on the Richter) . This was severe even for the locals, something they might get only every five years or more. Hard to photograph an earthquake. It’s not what you’re thinking about when the floors are rolling beneath you. The trains of course stopped rolling afterwards, completely screwing up the schedules on which thousands are dependent – leading to lines backing through the stations even in late afternoon.
It was just the kind of earthquake we need: sufficient to shake things up but not so severe as to cause major damage or loss of life. But because Japan gets these kinds of quakes, and worse, they prepare. Not only do they have logistical plans prepared (all those helicopter pads) but they also prepare their population for how to survive 72 hours without support. We got a tour of their emergency centre which not only includes big rooms with lots of desks and screens, back-up generators and life support but also a hands-on education centre. (I think I could now figure out how to make a reasonable toilet out of cardboard box boxes and plastic bags.)
Mainly I learned that it is possible for a culture to respond to catastrophe without chaos. I was not in a public space when the shaking occurred, but I didn’t get any sense of panic. Disruption occurred, but there was prepared response. And soon enough afterwards, the trains resumed and people got on with their lives as soon as they could. Would we respond that way? Kind of doubt it. We live in denial, we’re ill-prepared, and so need the occasional shake-up to remind us of the inevitable. Something the Japanese live with as a regular part of their existence.
More from Gordon on Instagram here.