Tension has been high over the last few days.
While the almost constantly occurring aftershocks seem to be dying down slowly, stronger earthquakes still make our days more interesting. Yesterday evening, a strong quake originating from the Mt. Fuji region shook buildings in Tokyo.
Our first question in the morning has become “how many have you felt last night?” When we check the data of the Japan Meteorological Society, it usually turns out that there was a number of quakes we had slept through.
Tokyo has been mostly exempt from the rolling blackouts, but the Kashiwa Campus of the University of Tokyo is experiencing daily power cuts for several hours. Since also the trains serving the blacked out areas are obviously not running, we have been working from home these last days. Public transit is generally disrupted since power saving measures are being implemented throughout Greater Tokyo.
Much less people are out on the streets than usual, yet motorways remain congested. The expressions of the few people venturing outside has changed from the neutral “empty” expression to slightly strained.
Since supply chains have been disrupted, many shelves in the supermarkets are empty. Yet, new deliveries are coming in. While we’ve been unable to find eggs, I was able to buy fresh strawberries this morning. Instead of the usual 5 different brands of milk, the milk section is full of just one kind. Maybe the choices are limited, but as long as food keeps coming in, it’s not so bad. Yet food hoarding has been observed. Yesterday morning, we were queuing at the check-out counter behind a lady who was buying 42 (!) pieces of frozen fish, laughing nervously.
Problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant keep continuing unabated and everyone watches the developments with great concern. The University of Tokyo has formed a Radiological Countermeasure Project Team and is now informing the staff of its radiation measurements conducted at all of its campuses. All measurement stations have recorded a slight bump in radiation levels yesterday, which was most pronounced at the Kashiwa Campus which is located more north than the others. Yet, all the measured doses are close to or within what is commonly found in natural environments and are far from being a concern for human health. We own a Geiger counter ourselves and conduct our own measurements at home, which for the time being keep us reassured.
We’ve been joking that we’re the only foreigners left in Tokyo. Even some IPMU personnel has left the country or temporarily moved to the Kansai region. We are supposed to fly to the US on Saturday for a conference and can only hope that until then, things remain under control. I expect that the radiation dose I’ll incur on the flight will exceed what I would get staying home in Tokyo.
Update: 12:56. Just now, another quake jolted us. Sigh.