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All Shook Up

September 7, 2009

We had an earthquake on Thursday night. I was lounging around in my living room, eating a pear and watching some silly television show when I noticed that things around me were beginning to sway. It took me about ten seconds to realize it was an earthquake. At first I thought maybe a large truck had rumbled by or something and was disturbing the building, but then it got a lot more serious and I finally realized what was going on. The walls started making all sorts of interesting noises and the overhead lamp swung around wildly. I checked around me to make sure nothing was going to fall on me (my apartment is pretty bare, so there really isn’t too much to worry about) and then I peered into the kitchen to make sure the gas was off. Once I’d checked to make sure everything was cool, I sat back down and continued watching my television show as the building rumbled and shook. It went on for about two minutes and apparently that’s unusually long for an earthquake. I actually wandered out onto my balcony to see what was going on below. Big trucks were continuing to rumble by, apparently unaffected by the trembling of the earth. A couple minutes after it stopped, there was an announcement on television about the quake. In my area, it registered a four on the Japanese earthquake scale, which I believe is a six on the Richter scale. Six… That seems pretty big to me. It seems the sevens and the eights are the ones you hear about in the news that cause terrible damage. Nothing really happened here other than a little bit of excitement. I hear that we were actually pretty close to the epicenter. Wow, exciting! No visible damage in the city and all my friends and co-workers are okay. I got a bunch of text messages after it was over and it was nice that people were checking on me. I walked around the building to check on a few of the other foreigners who live here. This was the biggest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. The only other one I felt was a tiny one that happened while I was in class at Kansai Gaidai in Hirakata.

I had actually just gotten back from our first taiko drumming practice when the earthquake struck. Taiko was so much fun! I picked up the four foreign girls who wanted to learn taiko and we drove out in my little car to a shrine in the middle of nowhere. The road was super dark and for awhile I thought I’d missed the turn I was supposed to make, but I kept going and we ended up right where we were supposed to be. The group practices inside an old shrine (I really need to take pictures there during the day time, there are some interesting things there) and I guess the reason we can practice drumming at night without disturbing people is that there really isn’t anyone around to disturb. Actually, the funnest part of the evening for me was being able to act as interpreter for the three girls who didn’t understand Japanese. Everyone in the group is really nice and I think we’re going to have a great time practicing with them.

I made my first order from Amazon.co.jp the other day and now I’m happily awaiting receiving some packages at my place. I also figured out how to pump up my bike tires (there’s a really weird attachment on the valves). I’m going out to a friend’s house tonight for fire stew and I’ve got a work party tomorrow night to celebrate the birthday of my Chinese counterpart. Should be a good weekend!

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