Tuesday, May 10, 2011

high alert

I tell everybody who asks that life is "pretty much back to normal" here in Tokyo, except for the fact that I am almost constantly wondering when the earth is going to start shaking again and with how much force, and will it be enough to topple the fish tank?

I think about these things almost constantly as I walk the city streets, taking kids to/from school and running errands and going about my usual business. It's spring, we're all healthy, life is relatively good where we are, radiation scares have subsided (at least they're off the front page) and yet I can't help feeling like some giant thing is about to happen. Any moment. That nobody can control, or even predict with any accuracy. It's a strange way to live. I wouldn't say I'm on 'high alert' but I am hyper-aware. Conscious of the peace and quiet. It all seems so, I dunno, misleading. I'll think, hey, listen to that hush and calm here in the supermarket or on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop (have I mentioned how relatively subdued Tokyo as a city was even before 3/11? no shouting or honking horns, the hustle and bustle almost on mute). I'll be walking here, or headed there, on a bus with the boys or in a yoga class (failing yet again to manage "crow" but doing one heck of a headstand) or puttering around the house or taking the recycling out and I just think, any time now...

The other day, as I approached the four-way pedestrian bridge that is Shibuya-bashi, the intersection of Komozawa and Meiji streets near Ebisu station and down the hill from our building, I thought about the freaky bounce of those elevated walkways whenever my kids scamper across them (an engineering marvel, really) and then wondered what it would take to make them snap.

Experts say there's an 87% percent chance that a quake of magnitude-8.0 or higher will hit the Tokai region (in Central Honshu west of Tokyo) sometime in the next 30 years. So I'm not talking the crazy talk. Not really.

Shibuya-bashi pedestrian bridge in Ebisu/Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, on a beautiful spring day in May

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