Tsukuba Weathers Another MEGASTORM- and once again comes out unscathed
By Avi Landau
For the second week in a row, Tsukuba braced itself for a typhoon. This time for what was being called a mega-storm- Typhoon Vongfong (wasp, in Cantonese), which had already wreaked havoc in Okinawa and had been making its way across southern Japan.
Living here, right in the middle of what has been called the DISASTER ARCHIPELGO (SAIGAI RETTO-), there never is very much respite between disasters. In recent months, calamity has struck with clockwork regularity- landslides in August, a volcanic eruption in September, and then two major typhoons in October.
Fortunately for us in Tsukuba, the typhoons have left us mostly unscathed- even while other parts of the same prefecture (let alone other regions of the country) have suffered heavy damage.
So last night once again, for the second time in two weeks, after having done some extra shopping- in case the local infrastructure broke down, filled the tub with water- in case our supply was cut off, made sure our flashlights were in working order- in case the power went out, and closed all our storm shutters- to protect the windows from storng winds and flying debris- we settled into bed for an uneasy night.
It is difficult to get a good night`s sleep when you know there is a typhoon raging outside. There is lots of rattling, the occassional slamming of a door which you have forgotten to shut properly, the howling of the wind…. the uncertainty…..
When its finally time to get up, despite the fact that you have hardly shut your eyes at all, you don`t know what to expect when you open the shutters- a few years ago I found my giant zelkova tree had been blown over, miraculously missing my car and the neighbors house.
Both last weekand this morning- with fear and tremblimg we pushed open the storm shutters- which themselves create a terrifying rumble- only to find perfectly clear blue skies.
A hesitant walk around the neighborhood revealed only a few fallen branches and one large puddle in our local park.
When it comes to disaster prevention, though, the Japanese always prepare for the worst. So even when instead of howling tempests, there are perfectly clear and beautiful days, school (and in many cases work) have already been postponed or cancelled on the days that the typhoons had been predicted to hit. This is a great windfall for the kids- but a big headache for parents who suddenly have to think of what to with their over-excited little ones and mourn the loss of income (if they do not have a salaried job!)
Lets try to savor this most perfectly delicious morning- despite the fact that others, in the north-east still lay in the storms path. Lets try to enjoy it, because in this disaster archipelgo, you never do know what the next day might bring.