After the farce of Monday`s mini-heatwave, today did February proud. While walking up the slope to Nishiogi train station, the howling wind blew snow under my transparent umbrella and straight into my face. It felt exhilarating. And very cold.
Last night the news predicted trains would be delayed this morning. They were. And as advised by news channels, most Tokyo commuters had left earlier than usual. Trouble was expected. Tokyo transport is notoriously yowai (weak) against snow. The Sobu train, my regular, is often the first to be cancelled.
At 8:35am I caught the 8:23am. I squeezed into a spot by the sliding doors. Sandwiched between silent, self-absorbed commuters, I tried to read a news article in Japanese. The article was about earthquake prediction; it went something like this:
The Japanese archipelago consists of volcanic peaks poking out of the ocean. Japan is a natural disaster department store, stocking earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, typhoons and much more. Anywhere in the country could be destroyed by a one in 1,000 year disaster. And nobody can predict when.
(This sounds much more fiery than my home in England. Devon`s natural disaster department store is mostly stocked with water: heavy floods, torrential downpours, the odd snowstorm and as much fog as you can carry.)
Like most people in my office, I managed to beat the snow and got to work on time. It felt like a triumph over nature.
At lunchtime the cafe TV screen showed an outline of Japan ringed in bright, flashing yellow. This is an image I have become familiar with – another tsunami warning, this one caused by today`s huge earthquake near the Solomon Islands. Later, back at the office sitting in front of the computer, my chair started to shake – this time it was a magnitude 3.8 earthquake right next Tokyo.
It amazes me that on these volcanic slopes, in the middle of this natural disaster department store, people are plotting to restart all Japan`s nuclear power plants.