Wednesday, July 25, 2007

it was tuesday morning at 10:18 in room 1020

of the plush Ana Hotel in Toyama, Japan.
martha was in the gorgeous lobby calling her mother.
I was sitting on the end of the bed playing my beloved Parker Fly.
suddenly the bed began shaking back and forth.
I felt faint like I was going to pass out. dizzy.
I looked at the door and saw the Do Not Disturb sign
swinging back and forth.
it was an earthquake!
what an incredible sensation!
not violent like I would have expected
but rhythmic, undulating, smooth.
like the whole room was in a big rocking chair.
I stood up to look out the window and felt another dose of vertigo.
the heating units on the tops of surrounding buildings
looked like they were made of rubber.
I didn't know what to do.
I was worried about martha.
should I run for the stairs?, probably best to stay put.
I could hear the sound of metal creaking
as the entire 18-story building swayed.
the shaking finally started to subside.
then after two minutes it was over.
I looked at my watch, it was 10:20 in room 1020.
strangely I felt as though I had lost my sea legs,
like everything was still moving slightly.
my equilibrium was off kilter.
I went down the hallway to the elevator.
eric and julie were just arriving from their room.
we discussed what to do and decided to stay put
in case of a second wave.
within a few minutes martha arrived
we excitedly talked about what had happened.
on our first day in japan we landed during a typhoon.
on our second day we were in an earthquake.


  1. What an adventure y'all had in Japan! I'm sure you're glad to be home safe and sound though....
    As we all know Japan is an earthquake prone area - luckily for you the large hotel you were staying in was probably designed to withstand large earthquakes - the one you experienced was no minor quake - 6.9 I believe....
    I experienced a way smaller quake - a 5.5 - back home in Australia, in 1989, which hit the city of Newcastle (about 1 hours drive north of Sydney). It certainly is a feeling I will never forget... It also happened around 10.30am - my parents were visiting, and my mother was organising some laundry in the laundryroom. I was in the adjoining family room, and I suddenly heard this incredibly loud banging on the wall between us. My immediate thought was that the washer was unbalanced, and that it was going to come crashing through the wall at any moment... I rushed in to turn the washer off....but my mother screamed that it wasn't even turned on yet! Next thing my father and youngest daughter came screaming up the hallway from the living room frantic that it was an earthquake! I had just reached the same conclusion, and I looked out the large picture windows towards the large back yard and out beyond to the open fields and the beach.... the windows were vibrating like crazy, and I could see the land was undulating like a big sea swell, big waves rolling along.... I grabbed my daughter and screamed 'lets get out of here'..... we rushed outside, trying to keep our balance as we went.... After a minute more it finally subsided - we couldn't believe that it had happened just 'out of the blue'. I was concerned because my husband worked in a multi-storied building in the city itself (we lived approx. 15 kms north by the beach). Many large buildings in the city were completely levelled, and a large number of people were killed. Fortunately my husband's building was undamaged - but it is believed that the effects of the earthquake were exacerbated by the fact that there were literally thousands of old coal mine shafts located beneath the city of Newcastle, which made the area very unstable. One house was partially sucked down into an old shaft by the quake! It took many many years for poor old Newcastle to repair the scars of those incredible couple of minutes....

  2. My earthquake experience happened in the winter of 1988. Most unusual, the epicenter was somewhere near Montreal, as I remember. Down in Hull, on the south shore below Boston, it felt as though a heavy truck was going by my house, except that in the wintertime, there's no reason for any traffic in Hull, especially late at night.

    Glad to hear you made it unscathed.

  3. That was a wierd earth quake. And least in Tokyo it was. For the poor folks up in Nigata it was just big and destructive. Here in Toyko it was the oddest feeling quake I have experienced in the 22 years that I have been here. Just as Adrian wrote it was not the usual 10hz vibration or the big slams but this odd gentle rocking just exactly as if you were in a big boat on the ocean. Maybe it was a message to Adrian that he might as well recover from his fear of flying because even the safety of solid ground is an illusion.

    The terra ain't so firma.

  4. You can't pay money for that sort of entertainment. Good to hear no one was injured

  5. my little earthquake story happened in Cleveland OH. I was standing in my kitchen when the dishes started rattling. I thought a big truck was passing, but it went on for a minute or so. My friend, who lived about a half-mile away called up and said "Will you please turn down the music?" He then told me we had just experienced a small quake, my first and only to date. We've had others since then, but none big enough to notice.

  6. I went through a little quake in the Adirondacks of NY back in the 80's. It was only around 3.5, I think, but it gave my little town something to talk about for awhile.

    Glad you guys got back safe...

  7. See what happens when you turn it up to 11?

  8. nancy reagan utilized numerologists , do you have a favorite number ? i do, it isnt one , or three .

  9. Those long-period undulating earthquakes seem to happen when the quake is strong but far away... I've been living in SoCal for twelve years now and have only felt one serious quake. It was a 7.0 but over 200 miles away, way out in the desert. It was at something like 3 am but we college kids were up late playing liars' poker in the lounge :) when all of a sudden the chandeliers started swinging. We didn't feel in danger, nothing even fell off the shelves...

    The other fun part of the story, though, is that my alma mater is locally known for being the place the LA news broadcasters go to interview a "talking head" geologist for their breaking news stories after a quake. So we scampered across campus to the geology building to see if we could beat everybody there and watch it all happen. Sure enough, lights and vans started showing up shortly thereafter, followed soon by some very tired looking geologists... it was pretty exciting. Even more so when we found that the quake was in the desert and very little damage happened.

  10. you should put this blog entry to music as is i think that it would make a great song! you should title it 10:20 in 1020.