BBC
Strong quake hits northern Japan

A strong earthquake has struck the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, according to reports.

The quake, which hit at about 0450 local time on Friday (1940GMT Thursday), was also felt in central Hidaka and eastern Tokatsu, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, according to Kyodo news agency..

I was blogging when this happened. The glass rattled a bit, but I guess we were pretty far away from the epicenter. I went up stairs just in case to wake up Mizuka.

Tokyo is widely acknowledged to be overdue for another "big one" soon. Recently an astronomer reported that a quake of magnitude 7 was going to hit Tokyo soon. The last big quake in the Kanto region was in 1923 and killed more than 120,000 people. This was also the quake where the Japanese army spread rumors that the Koreans had poisoned the wells and hundreds of Koreans were lynched. (I've visited their graves.)

I definitely don't want to be in Tokyo for the next big one and I'm glad I'm moving to Chiba where there are fewer earthquakes and will be living in a house surrounded by bamboo forests which make ground splits quite difficult.

The other interesting thing to note is that Jason D's comment on my blog was what got me to get my face out of my blogging and realize that it was actually a bigger earthquake up north and not a small one here. It's funny that someone in LA is feeding me news about Japan on my blog. ;-)

15 Comments

Actually there were two big quakes in Hokkaido, one at 4:50am and the other at 6:07am. These can be felt in even in Tokyo, which is more than 500 miles away from the epicenter. The magnitude of these quakes were estimated to be 7.8.

Wow.

Actually, I think the number of Koreans lynched in the aftermath of the Kanto earthquake was in the thousands. The Imperial Army spread the rumors to get rid of a segment of the population they didn't like. They also used the confusion to kill a lot of their opponents. People with speech impediments (some children in special schools) were mistaken for "foreigners" and also killed.

At least this sorry episode is documented and fully acknowledged. You can see an exhibit on it at the Edo Museum.

While 120,000 people may have died in the quake in 1923, I would like to believe that were such a quake to hit now the improved building construction standards would lessen that figure significantly. Also, how many of the people died from fires resultant of the quake?

Remember that the Kobe earthquake burned huge areas to a crisp. It was burned white. They didn't scramble the helicopters because of procedural problems, may firehoses didn't have the right connectors and didn't work. It was a complete mess. Things may have improved, but fires will still be a huge cause of death in the event of an earthquake in Tokyo. I am extremely skeptical about earthquake readiness.

This has been a real obsession for me lately. The sheer number of mid-large tremblers in Japan over the summer is enough to make anyone a bit nervous.
As for earthquake readiness, count on that if you really have nothing to live for. Heavy reliance on gas and poor construction ensures fires. The fact that no government body can do anything until a bunch of old geezers get together in Tokyo to declare an emergency is reassuring.
After the Kobe quake lets not forget that while a European seach and rescue team sat in a hotel in Narita (because the Japanese govt had not OK'd foreign assistance), and the JSDF sat in thier barracks while politicians debated "legitimizing" them by calling them into service, the only people out on the streets were the Yakuza.
What will be really interesting if the quake hits is all the displaced people. Considering the average commute by Tokyo-ites, with no trains or subways the confusions and panic will be pretty intense.
For practice, try walking from your office to home sometime.

How often does an earthquake occur in Japan? Hope you people are alright.

I've heard that Japan gets around a thousand quakes a year, so 2-3 a day, but a huge percentage are imperceptible or in areas without people.
Living here, I guess you feel one about once a month.

Just happened to see a wiki pagededicated to earthquake information.

Interesting. I haven't seen a Japanese Wiki page before. It somehow looks more authoritative than English wikis.

I heard about this and I have been wondering how you are doing. It's been all over the news here in the US. Keep us posted & take care.

I was awake when the quake happened, I felt a little woosy on my chair and realized, hey, it's a tremor. It wasn't very noticable in to me (I'm in Shibuya), though.

Last Saturday's 5.5 earthquake was much more noticable, my entire building shook for around 15 seconds. A bit scary, but not as bad as I thought it would be

I was in Paris when live pictures of the quake came on CNN and had the weird thought that because of the time most people in Japan outside of the immediate area wouldn't have seen them yet.

It reminded me of your comment about calling someone in New York during the blackout...

I was in Paris when live pictures of the quake came on CNN and had the weird thought that because of the time most people in Japan outside of the immediate area wouldn't have seen them yet.

It reminded me of your comment about calling someone in New York during the blackout...

Someone told me, probably just me listening to TV and not noticing it, that Fuji's smoking again. Funny thing was that I then went to see Lost in Translation and Bill Murray's there playing golf under the shadow of Fuji. It is really a movie to remind one of their first week living in Tokyo.

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