Two nights ago, John and I experienced our first earthquake. I was mid-Downton Abbey (which I could add to the list of many things I do instead of studying Japanese) when the couch started shaking. The earthquake alert on my phone wailed, “JISHIN DESU! JISHIN DESU!” John came and stood in a doorway like you’re supposed to. I froze, paused Netflix, and stared at him dumbfounded. When it finished, we laughed and shared the news on Facebook. Throughout the night, we had several gentle—soothing even—aftershock rumblings.
We learned the next morning that the epicenter was in the town of Mashiki in Kumamoto prefecture, about a three-hour drive from our house. There, the quake registered at a 6.5 on Japan’s seven-tier seismic intensity scale. It resulted in over 1,000 injured and 9 dead. Part of Kumamoto castle collapsed. I felt guilty for finding the experience novel.
Then last night, at around 1:30 a.m., our house shook harder. Hard enough for me to take action and hide under our desk. Our only damage was a few fallen Gundam models. But when the aftershocks came again, this time I couldn’t sleep.
Turns out a second, stronger quake had struck Kumamoto. This one brought the death toll up to over 40. The Kyushu rail lines are damaged. Aftershocks are still coming, and the rain means danger of landslides. Many evacuation centers are already in short supply of food and water.*
Alright earthquakes. It’s not cute anymore. Stop it.
*Donate to the Kumamoto earthquake relief fund. (Be sure to write “Kumamoto earthquake” in the Designation field.)