There it is – that’s him. The fella that woke me up at 5:30 this morning.

Now, this isn’t the first earthquake I’ve been through. I was fully awake for three within my 1-month stay in Tokyo, which makes me surprised I haven’t been through more earthquakes while I’ve been here. This is the first earthquake that I know of in this area for two months.

Earthquakes, I’ve found, aren’t like they are in movies. The first hefty earthquake I experienced in Japan was while I was standing up in the basement of the Tokyo Library. Things really don’t jitter up and down. You just feel like the earth jolts one way, and you know it shouldn’t be doing that because the ground should be stable. You get the feeling that you’re floating and moving at the same time – and it’s super freaky.


Earthquake1 Hirakata Shi

In this map, the arrow’s mine. It points to Hirakata-Shi, the town I’m in. We had an earthquake magnitude of 1. This woke both my roommate and I up simultaneously. My brain knew what was happening, because I’d been through it before, and my adrenaline immediately kicked in. The shifting only happened for about 5 seconds, so by the time I tried to make sure my roommate was awake by saying, “It’s an earthquake!”, it was already over. When, I lay back down, my heart was pumping so hard it felt like half an hour before it calmed down.

This, of course, had jolted me out of sleep, so the recollections were vague, at best. It wasn’t until I woke up that I realized I might have imagined the whole thing and that I might have woken up my roommate for no reason. A short talk with my roommate and a look online confirmed what I had felt. Now, this all occurred because of an earthquake with a magnitude of 1. Imagine what something with a magnitude of 5 could do.

At orientation, we were talked to about earthquakes, with the terms, “It’s not a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen,” because the stats show Japan is ripe for a big earthquake. The huge Kobe earthquake of the 1980s happened not two hours away, and there was massive damage. We’ve been told that the Center for International Education (the building where we have all our classes) is one of the safest earthquake-proof buildings around. I’ll show you some measures taken in another post after I get pictures. The thing is, we were told briefly what we should do in the case of an earthquake, but knowing doesn’t replace doing. That’s why fire drills are used.

It is my opinion that the Seminar Houses at least should do earthquake drills. Many people living in the dorms have never experienced an earthquake before, and it’s important to be able to act immediately.

If you’d like to keep an eye on large earthquakes around the world,  the U.S. Geological Survey has an excellent, up-to-date website. However, they only show large earthquakes. It’s interesting to note the ring of fire consistently in its maps, and also earthquakes in strange places like the middle of the U.S.

If you want to keep an eye on things in Japan, the Japan Meteorological Agency doesn’t just cover little earthquakes, but also severe weather and tsunamis. Rights to the pictures I’ve used belong to them.