Once we were finally back on the ground we needed to decide what to do next. I still had no phone signal and no idea how serious the earthquake had been. The streets were full of people who had been evacuated from buildings or train stations. We decided that it had to be a good idea to move to higher ground. We had come from Roppongi Hills earlier in the day and we walked back via the same route. This was a good plan as I didn’t want to take an unfamiliar route. I have absolutely no sense of direction and really didn’t want to get lost.
This did mean walking back by the supermarket that sold the beans. At this stage grocery shopping was the last thing on my mind. And even if I had wanted to the store, like many others on the street, had been closed. Apart from some of the shops closing we didn’t see a lot of problems. There was some broken glass and indications that people were worried but nothing overly alarming.
Once I finally had a 3G signal I managed to get to Twitter. Then I started to see the messages from friends wanting to know where I was and asking me to get in touch with my family as soon as possible. I have a sister-in-law in Australia who had already seen the news as I had been in the tower for quite some time. I posted quickly stating that I had been in Tokyo Tower but that I was now on the ground. I then went to the Japan Meteorological Agency website to get information about the quake. I’m so glad that I wasn’t able to access that from the tower. It told me how big the quake was and, given that I actually have read the information I’d been given about dealing with earthquakes in Japan, I knew that the quake was huge.
The site also also showed a red flashing tsunami warning. Tsunamis are the reason I don’t live in an apartment by Tokyo bay. There is something terrifying about huge walls of water. Much as I love the sea I never want to see it come for me.
We kept walking and got to the Mori Tower quite quickly. Some people have been surprised that after my experience in Tokyo Tower that I was planning to get inside another one. But my husband works in the Mori Tower and he has assured me that it’s built to withstand earthquakes. I also knew that his company would have food, water, and disaster kits.
I tried contacting Marty when Norwin and I arrived at the tower, but my phone still wasn’t making calls. There were security guards standing at the doors to the lobby and I could see that it was already full of people. At first I didn’t want to go in but since my phone wouldn’t work Norwin convinced me that the best way to get in touch with Marty was to get reception to ring him. I went in and joined the long queue of people trying to reach other people inside the tower. The quake meant that the elevator had been stopped and with the many aftershocks it looked like it could be hours before it started again.
We stayed in the tower for hours. The elevators didn’t work and I didn’t think I would be in any fit state to evacuate if I walked up the 44 flights of stairs to where Marty was. Once the elevators were working again we went up and sat in a rest area of the office. There was a T.V. showing BBC world news and it was horrifying. While sitting in the lobby we were aware that there had been a huge earthquake and aftershocks, but we had heard nothing about the tsunami other than the warning I had seen. We also hadn’t been able to find out much on the internet as I was worried about my phone dying. It was so hard to get a signal and all the searching for one was killing the battery. We used the phone only to send messages to other people to let them know that we were safe.
We considered spending the night sleeping at the office as it would have taken about 3 hours to walk home but trains did start again and at 11 o’clock we ventured outside. If we hadn’t manage to get a train we could always have gone back to the office. We tried the Hibiya line and they had a train going to Ueno. This left us with a walk that we imagined would take less than an hour.
The train journey wasn’t pleasant. The train was mostly empty but it kept stopping because of frequent aftershocks. At one point it looked as if the walls of the train tunnel were moving but it was actually the train moving about on the tracks.
Ueno station was filled with people sitting on the ground on plastic sheets. I imagine that many people spent the night there as it was already after midnight and most trains were not running. I was glad that we could walk from there as the station was quite cold. We were carrying emergency kits and they had some sort of blanket in them but the floor of the station would not have been a great place to spend the night.
The walk home wasn’t difficult. There were still lots of people outside walking home. I think it took us just under an hour to reach the apartment and I was delighted to get home. The elevators in the building were working, we had electricity and water, but the gas wasn’t working. This meant that there was no heating and explained why the lobby of the building had quite a few woman and small children on the floor as it was warm down there.
Our apartment was mostly fine. Some things had moved, a couple of things had fallen over, but it was hard to believe that there had been such a huge quake. I lay on the sofa and Marty true to form started to hunt through the cupboards for food. He opened the cupboard and asked, “Do we have any beans?”