A Japanese Disaster Drill

A massive earthquake has struck Akashi. Or perhaps, a tsunami. Evacuate! To your nearest disaster center! And this area’s happens to be my very own Higashi-Harima High School. Today* was a mass disaster drill, where students gathered in the gym and practiced things like using blankets as stretchers, getting a taste of hinanshoku, or disaster food, and how to make platforms out of boxes, I guess. Green-jumpsuited members of the Nihon Bousaishi (Japan Disaster Prevention) Society were also present to look cool and show us the proper way to do things.

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“Everyone’s dead, hooray!”

 

It started in the morning, with all the kids running onto the school field to line up and take attendance. The atmosphere was very lively, kids were chatty and laughing, and we even had a few photographers there as if this were a really exciting, commemorable event. Everyone was in their athletic clothes, except for me in a shirt and tie. Opening ceremony was supposed to be the same day but it got cancelled for some reason.

After that, we went onward to the gym. Several members of the community had also shown up, mostly the elderly since this was a weekday morning. The¬†good Bousaishi people (whose logo is the photo atop this post) gave us a peppy lecture about proper disaster practices. I couldn’t pick up much, sorry to say, so far all I know they could’ve been saying “cleanse the sinners with tsunamis” or “ALTs should jump into earthquakes” and I would just be nodding vigorously.

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Despite this being a drill, we were still given real disaster rations and encouraged to consume them. It was a bottle of “Postonic Water,” basically like unflavored Gatorade, and some incredibly bland fried rice. I think there was some chicken, vegetables, mushrooms? But almost no flavor at all. Even plain Japanese rice has more flavor– the Bousaishi people explained that disaster food should be easy to digest and as inoffensive as possible. Looks like the only disaster that day was the food, haha! Really, I appreciated it, of course. It was homemade by volunteer moms, and they had to have made hundreds of these for all the students and community members attending.

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After the distribution of blankets to each row of kids, the bousaishi members demonstrated how to make them into improvised stretchers– lay a kid in the middle, and roll it up on both sides towards them. Wow!

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Then, how to make platforms from cardboard boxes. Put together, they are surprisingly capable of supporting several schoolgirls, or schoolboys. Perhaps it’s for an impromptu hospital bed. Whoaaaa!

Anyways, that’s pretty much it. Stay safe out there!

* This actually took place a month ago, but I hadn’t published it till now.

Typhoon Twenty TERROR II: The Conclusion

Typhoon 20 came and went from my life like many friendships– short-lived but still memorable. Since the time I made my post, and up until 7 PM (the time it had been projected to hit), it was still windy, but not enough to chomp down on your cigar and declare, “Well, here it comes, boys!”The wind WAS picking up, but ever-so-gradually. I biked to work against 15mph winds, and biking back, it had probably picked up to 20mph. It was, of course, blowing against me both ways, because life shouldn’t ever be easy. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was still manageable.

Seven PM, I had some friends over. We had the door to open let the night breeze in. The breeze was a little stronger than normal, but as the night went on, it turned into a night wind. It started blowing our cards off the table, and it started slamming my door against the balcony like a guy who owes the mafia money. We closed the door and forgot about it– the wind was howling outside, but windy days happen, this didn’t seem too much different than normal. Ten PM rolls around, and the wind still sounds exactly the same. It’s about time I kicked my guests out, so around 11 PM everyone gets up to leave. I open the door for them to outside, and wham! There it is. The typhoon had finally arrived!

The air was water. The rain was so thick, it formed a shimmering, watery fog. The wind blew rain in layers. Trees swayed violently side to side. Anything that hadn’t been weighed down or secured was swept away by the wind. The typhoon claimed my balcony slippers. I found one of them the next day, on the completely opposite side of the building. The other one is forever lost. Emergency alerts told me that the elderly were being evacuated in Akashi City. “In so-and-so area, please get to high ground.” It was really weird to see live updates (via emergency alerts) and actually being inside the typhoon. It sounded like the apocalypse was here, but being in it, it was hectic but it was not hellacious.

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Many brave bikes fell in the wake of the typhoon.

I am proud to say I survived Typhoon 20, although I must admit that for all the hype, I was a little disappointed. Let’s hope Typhoon 21 rips my roof off or something!

Typhoon Twenty, TERROR from the East

I’ve been hearing about the incoming “Typhoon 20” for weeks now, far off yet close enough to make the local weather cooler and slightly breezier. Meanwhile, the vice-principal has just made an ominous announcement– from aikido to kendo and table tennis, all club activities are cancelled for today. Half the teachers have left the office. My supervisor suggested to me to take the rest of the day off before the typhoon hits. I didn’t because I would’ve had to cut into my paid time off.

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The news show graphs and projections with hectopascals, and even the local trains will stop running 6 hours earlier than they usually do. Meanwhile, it’s 3:20 PM at the time of writing, and it’s another beautiful-albeit-a-little-too-hot day. The sun is shining, the clouds are out, and the giant mutant bugs of Akashi zip around your face like any average day. Where is this dreaded typhoon I’ve been hearing about for almost two weeks now? More to come…