In a city renowned for its train network, a system that in many ways acts as Tokyo’s lifeblood, it’s quite bizarre indeed when, due to rolling blackouts, it’s not functioning — or at least not fully.
Not in a sense of the crowds though, but rather a lack of them. The odd, eerie silence of a place that should be bright and bustling with people — but isn’t.
And the quiet confusion this causes.
One that can’t be countered by jumping in the car either, as panic buying of fuel is even more excessive than in the supermarkets, with a line round the block before this petrol station even opened resulting in it being sold out in next to no time.
All of which isn’t life threatening. Not even inconvenient when one considers what could have happened. And it’s certainly nothing like the impending doom being peddled by some media outlets. It does, however, make for some very strange times indeed.
Reminds me of driving past National Airport in D.C. on 9/12/01.
Lee – been reading your site for a while (a photo fan and Japanophile, though not currently in Japan), have never commented but just wanted to say thanks for your updates and wish you well. I agree that the foreign press seems rather panicked, appreciate you retaining your good humour. Ganbatte…
Thanks Lucy. Very kind of you to say so.
I’m convinced CNN wants a bigger disaster so they can scare more people…they are doing it pretty good so far.
It does seem like that at times, doesn’t it? Some journalists really do appear to revel in suffering. And the more suffering there is, the more they lap it up. Utterly sickening.
Ken C says
There is blanket mnedia coverage here and the government is organising charter flights to get people from Tokyo to Hong Kong if they want to leave. They are also advising people who do not have to be in Tokyo to stay away yet Japanese people that I have spoken to are saying much the same as Lee. It’s a bit inconvenient and they are working without light and heat but that’s about it. Of course, it’s an entirely different story in the north east.
Thanks for all the updates Lee. I came back to the UK the day before it all happened but am due to return in a couple of weeks.
Cheers Ken. Glad to know the stories being spread are being ignored by many.
Yes, it’s a concern. There’s no doubt about that. But the plight of those stuck cold, homeless and lacking food and medicine in the north are the ones really in trouble. Seems some of the media are quickly losing interest in them so they can focus on the much more juicy ‘nuke disaster’…
Doris Simon says
as a Japanophile and German a just stopped reading panic-medias like Spiegel,
its downright disgusting
thanks for your thoughtful blog,
Not at all. The least I can do is give my side of the situation.
With the panic in the English press contrasting so strangely with the experiences being written about by those in Japan, the effect is very strange and confusing. It’s hard to get an impression of the truth, though I am naturally more inclined to lean towards the news from Japan, of course. Stay safe Tokyo and ganbare Tohoku! The footage from the tsumani zone is heartbreaking but I believe in the inner strength of the people of Japan.
It is heartbreaking, but unfortunately all the sensationalism concerning the nuclear issue are detracting attention from those facing terrible hardship now.
It is so important that the North is not fogotten. I was supposed to be travelling out to Tokyo in a couple of weeks for a holiday but it seems totally inappropriate to think about holidays now.
It’s good to read some more measured comments from Japan. The British press are going crazy and the Foreign Office advises against non-essential travel to Tokyo, so it’s very difficult to know what to do. I have been planning a trip to Tokyo and a few other places in the south at Easter. Just can’t make up my mind what to do – cancel or go ahead. I’m going to follow your blog anyway as what you have to say about the country and its culture is so interesting. (And it might be all I get to see of it!) Take care and keep up the good work.
Thanks! That’s a tough call. My advice would be to wait as long as you can before making a decision. The blackouts look set to continue for a good while, but hopefully the nuclear problem will be sorted out soon.
In spite of wasting the bulk of this work week surfing multiple sites to get a fuller picture of what’s happening in Japan, I haven’t seen one explanation as to why Tokyo needs to have it’s power rationed nor has anyone bothered to comment on why various power plants, nuclear and others, are still off-line in Tohoku, including some in the far NW corner on the Japan sea side.
Can you direct me to any information about this?
I’m guessing the other plants went offline when the quake hit, and the damage in that area could well mean they won’t be operational for a while yet. That’s only speculation though.
As for the power rationing, there simply isn’t enough to go round at the moment, with a lack of power being produced. And because west Japan uses a different system, power can’t be transferred from there.
I’d forgotten complete about the different power cycles between the two halves of the country until I stumbled across a diagram showing all the locations of all the power generating facilities. That’s a difficult one to explain back home.
Allot of it has to do with the reason Reactor 1 was supposed to be OFFLINE back in Febuary, and why reactors 5 and 6 were off before the quake hit. If they shut it down, they would have rolling blackouts with or without the quake. Being forced offline definately makes for rolling blackouts. At least 1 is back to stableish now until they can get power rolled back out. Now 2 & 3 seem about the same, now if only 4’s cooling pond hadn’t cracked.
Just sucks the rolling blackouts only remedy is going to be new reactors coming online. Polution & space just aren’t things Japan can deal with much unfortionately.
The suffering of the displaced people seems almost over looked in comparison to the cover of the power plant. There are people already dying through lack of food and water in these areas. The people in Tokyo really did seem to deal with any of the shortages extremely well, and treated them as minor inconveniences, which they are. And as a tourist i definitely noticed the friendlier feel from people. Take care Lee.
Thanks Matt. Glad to hear similar views on this.
Tom O. says
Hey. Just wanted to thank you for your balanced view and reporting on the situation. You don’t seem to be downplaying or overplaying anything. It seems like each situation is different depending on what part of Tokyo/Saitama/Kanagawa you’re in. I spoke with my friends and family and each states a dire situation regarding the availability of food, gas, and other basics, but see pictures from others that live in Meguro where supermarkets and kiosks are well-stocked. Your pictures and updates seem to walk the line. It’s much appreciated. It alleviates some of the worry I have for my loved ones.
Thanks Tom. To be honest it’s the very least I can do. And considering some of the stories I’ve seen, something I have to do. Really happy to hear it has been of some benefit to you.
thank you so much for the updates! i’m following you on twitter too.
it’s good to know that people in tokyo are doing ok. i really hate how the reporters of CNN and other news teams are doing so much fear mongering.
Thanks Kate. Yes, it really is inexcusable, isn’t it? The line between news and entertainment has been a grey one for a long time now, but it seems to have got a whole lot more blurry of late…
Chris Horsley says
Just wanted to say, have been following your work for a while, and happy to see you showing a more realistic picture of the situation in Tokyo. These pictures are great to bolster my reassurances to people back home that the situation here, while not 100% certain, isn’t nearly as bad as what they’re seeing in the papers and on TV there. So, thanks again – please keep it up.
Thanks Chris! Happy to hear it may be helping you out a bit. If it does, then it’s all more than worthwhile.
Yeah, nothing is certain. Not by a long shot. But it certainly isn’t like some in the media are representing it that’s for sure.
The Envoy says
As usual the press blows everything out of proportion. Good to hear that you and Tokyo are alright though.
Cheers! Yes, we are doing fine thanks.
people should use bikes instead.