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26 March 2011 @ 20:05
Yeah, Tokyo, it's a lot like that.  
Hi everyone,

Sorry I haven't replied to all the comments. It's a lot easier to write back on my own PC rather than my phone, which is what I'm using now. I just want to save electricity, that's all. I think I'm capable of answering now.

Since the last post, things have got better. The radiation in the water decreased and the power plant is progressing slowly. We've been told not to eat leafy green vegetables, but overall radiation levels in Tokyo are going down. I check my online Geiger counter every morning before deciding to go to work. It's worth noting that, no matter how severe that sounds, radiation levels never got much higher than the natural background radiation in my university town of Aberdeen. Obviously, I'm still concerned about the lack of vegetables though, but I take multivitamins every day -- they're from Sainsburys. Thanks, mum!

I went to the (quite) new convenience store in town yesterday and was surprised to find it had a large grocery section. The only time I went before was during a blackout when it was populated entirely by staff wielding torches. They didn't sell cat litter though. Anyway, their produce section was filled with leafy greens from Ibaraki and Chiba! Some of them were up to 30% off. Now, I presume these are safe and were shipped before the disaster, but I've no guarantee of that! Do not want! And neither did anyone else, it seems, because these fresh vegetables remained while the rest of the shelves were more or less stripped.

I went out to something other than work yesterday for the first time -- Tokyo Comedy Store. They were having a benefit for Second Harvest, which distributes food to the homeless and, yes, emergency shelters. There were lots of fairly close-to-the-bone quake jokes -- two crossed the line for me, and that's saying something since I have a pretty tasteless sense of humour. But I do believe that comedians should tell the best jokes they can and deal with potential line-crossing, because that is how you get cutting-edge humour. But everyone's mind was on the quake, which was obvious in the second half, based around improv theatre. All the suggestions called out by the audience were quake-related. Chris asked for suggestions for "sponsors" so they could do fake commercials and the first suggestion was radiation (they refused) and the second was TEPCO, at which point they realised they pretty much had to.

Lots of hate for the so-called "flyjin" though. I'd say I don't get it, but I totally do, I just don't agree. It's a way to recast yourself as the 'hero' of the situation and boosts camaraderie -- does that sound too analytical? There was a distinct feeling last night of "We're foreign, we're still here and we're awesome. YAY TOKYO!" and while it strikes me as pretentious, it's just what's needed right now.

I must admit to being surprised by how many people seemed to know me though! From the minute I walked in, everyone shouted 'hey, Will!' Which is nice. I'm feeling a lot better today, I think. I must admit I've stayed in bed most of the day reading ("Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident"), but I don't have to go to work for once.

Yesterday was the last day of work. Emotions in Japanese schools always run high at the end if the school year (More than the UK? YES.), but this time it was palpable. I found a teacher crying in the changing rooms, just sobbing her eyes out. "Kodomo mitai!" she said angrily. "Watashi mo onaji..." I replied. Then silence. It's a lot like that. We cancelled the end-of-year nomikai and had snacks and speeches in the staffroom instead. The highlight was coffee/green tea/tea made with mineral water, as Saitama's supply was also recently declared radioactive too.

But, unlike the other day(?), I'm okay. Don't worry.
ext_254817 on 26th March 2011 10:59 (UTC)
I suspect quake humour is a bit more forgivable if you're actually living in an affected area. It's how many of us get through such situations after all.

Someone once made the point to me that humans are constantly exposed to radiation. There's big source overhead, another big source under our feet. My house sits on a rock in one of the most radon intensive areas in the UK and, from what I've read, the exposure levels are about the same as Tokyo has had. However, that's a miniscule risk I can control by installing a sump and opening windows (am suddenly concerned about "Keigo's" tomatoes...). If the nuclear plant on Anglesey went off like Fukushima, I'd be rather more apprehensive (then again, I'd also be able to see the smoke, so would be too busy hightailing out of here to worry whether the fears were irrational).

Glad you're feeling more on top of things anyway.
Williamgenkischuldich on 27th March 2011 02:55 (UTC)
That's true, but the tone tends to be quite different too. I lost count of the number of Americans who've posted along the lines of "lol, Godzilla!!1" in response to news articles, but I've also seen refs from expats too, who seem to be using it more as a way of explaining the impossible.

If you're near a power plant, now is a good time to start asking questions about safety. Seriously, it's worth doing. Don't wait until an emergency for people to start saying "My God, all that secret cost-cutting! How could we have POSSIBLY knooooown!?"
golden_bastetgolden_bastet on 26th March 2011 11:46 (UTC)
Well, it's always good to hear from you. I'm glad things are beginning to come together in some sort of way.
Williamgenkischuldich on 27th March 2011 02:56 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm starting to get a much better grip on things. I think this will all work out. *fingers crossed*
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on 26th March 2011 12:07 (UTC)
I want vegetables for 30% off. :( My stores aren't running any sales like that, and all of the vegetables disappear at the same rate as always. >.
Williamgenkischuldich on 27th March 2011 02:59 (UTC)
Yeah, but I don't want stuff from Ibaraki. I doubt anyone will for some time. But if you're looking, try your local Natural Lawson's.
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on 27th March 2011 08:49 (UTC)
But I want stuff from Ibaraki. Does that mean that I am nobody? T-T

Actually I don't care where it comes from as long as it's cheap, but I would seek out Ibaraki produce right now just to prove that it's perfectly fine to eat and people are overreacting.
The River City's Harper: brightpathharpergrey on 26th March 2011 13:26 (UTC)
I'm glad things seem to be settling out at least a little... You're doing the best you can with what you've got, and that's the main thing. *hugs*
Williamgenkischuldich on 27th March 2011 03:01 (UTC)
Thanks. Yeah, we're doing okay and it's getting better by the day right now. Let's hope it continues.