This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Tropical Storm, Earthquake and Underground Tunnels. / 8 September 2013

TV news was showing images of tropical weather system hitting other parts of Japan. Pictures of flooding and ruined buildings, of people battling the elements and of the clean-up, with electricity supples being restored and people being offered emergency food parcels. More wind, rain and flooding was expected. And suddenly everything was shaking; the floor, the furniture, me. The whole building was shaking and everything in it.
I'm in a different, newer building this year, it seems to move a lot more than the old one. Drawers rattled out of cupboards, stuff was falling over, there was noise and the giant TV set was abruptly lurching backwards and forwards alarmingly. 
Within minutes the TV screen showed quake details and reassurance that a tsunami was not expected to result on this occasion. The quake, on Torishima (the uninhabited BirdIsland), was reported by the Japan Meteriological Agency (JMA) as a 6.9. 
Torishima Kinkai is a class A active volcano, mostly submerged in the Philippine Sea (the spawning ground for one of my favourite foods, the Japanese Eel).
My iPad then went a little haywire, as the system got overloaded, but an hour afterwards it was difficult to find any trace of this 'everyday' occurrence. This is just the way things are.

This was a good opportunity to take stock, to assure oneself that heavy items are adequately fixed to wall or floor and to assess which items need further anchoring to be safe. 

I am aware that I do not know our evacuation point. Rolling around the area I do notice repeated signs on public open spaces warning that: 'This is not a designated evacuation point due to the low level fire risk'.
Since I was here last, posters have been put up at the local metro station, calm and thoughtful information in English and Japanese:

Underground, I'm told, is safer;
contrary to my instincts,
my primeval heritage,
fear of burial, the smothering
under earth in turmoil. 
'Underground tunnels 
move with the ground,
Underground is well
prepared, stay calm.'
It is so very important
to stay calm and in
control especially
in the underground
tunnels of my mind.