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The Tohoku Earthquake on 3.11 - My Experience

Updated on October 15, 2014
Visiting the Tohoku region to witness the aftermath of an earthquake.
Visiting the Tohoku region to witness the aftermath of an earthquake.

Earthquake - An Experience I'll Never Forget

It was a typical Friday in March - March 11, 2011 to be exact. I was working at home on my laptop in the living room. I had the TV on as background noise while my dog, Justin, was happily licking away at his chew toy. I was intensely concentrating on my work as I was doing freelance translation at the time and I wasn't really aware of time. Suddenly we were experiencing an earthquake, but I live in Tokyo and earthquakes are a common occurrence.

At first I hardly took notice and for the first five seconds, I kept on working without a second thought to the initial tremors. I looked over at Justin, who looked a bit startled, and patted him on the head to assure him that everything's fine. I would have never thought in a million years that this would be a big one.

This is a story of my experience with the big earthquake.

*Pictures all taken by myself unless otherwise noted.

Stores from the Japan Earthquake

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake
2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake

A complilation of essays, artwork and photographs submitted by people around the world, including the people who lived through the disaster and the journalists that covered it.

 

It Was Not Your Typical Friday in Tokyo

Shinjuku
Shinjuku

I live in Nakano Ward in Tokyo near Shinjuku, one of the major hubs in Tokyo. Our city is a strange one in that it's made up of 23 wards that adds up to a gigantic metropolis. I live on the 8th floor of an apartment with a nice view of the city. On clear days, you can even see Mt. Fuji in the distance.

When the tremors started that day, most of us in Tokyo didn't think much of it. We've always known about the fact that Japan is located in the Ring of Fire and scientists have warned us to expect a major earthquake to occur in Tokyo for a long time now. I guess none of us expected it to happen in our lifetime.

At approximately 2:46 PM, the first tremors started. For the first 20 seconds or so, it felt like one of our usual minor earthquakes. I remember thinking to myself that it's no big deal and it's going to stop shaking soon. This time it didn't. It just kept going and was the longest one I've ever experienced. After about 20 seconds ( which feels like a long time during an earthquake ) , the TV sent out an automatic earthquake warning signal. At the same time, my phone started to emit a sound I've never heard before. It was our earthquake warning signal that alerts us to prepare for an earthquake. I sensed that it might be better to take precautionary measures so I grabbed Justin in my arms and decided to duck under the dining table just in case.

*Photo credit : Wikipedia ( photo of Shinjuku )

Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack
Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack

This kit contains enough food and water for three days and includes emergency blankets, light sticks and a backpack that lets you carry everything in it.

 

Be Prepared

I was not prepared and had it been worse in Tokyo, I'm not sure if I would have survived. I only had a bottle of water, a backpack and meds! I didn't even have warm clothes to keep me warm. It was freezing outside and I went outside in my pajamas.

After the earthquake, most of us in Tokyo now have a backpack with supplies ready near the entrance. I cannot emphasize to you how important it is to be prepared.

Earthquake Early Warning Signal for Cell Phones

All cell phones and smarphones in Japan will ring the earthquake warning signal no matter what you are doing if an earthquake is expected to hit. This is what it sounds like. It's loud and nerve-wracking.

My Worst Nightmare Comes True

map of sendai earthquake
map of sendai earthquake

By this time, the room kept shaking and I was starting to get nervous. "This is kind of long for an earthquake", I thought and I wobbled towards the table just in case. I really didn't think it was going to be serious and I tried to stay calm. As my dog and I stayed under the table, the tremor continued and it was starting to get annoying and I really just wanted it to stop. After a few more seconds I could hear the reporter's voice on the TV telling us to take precautionary measures just in case. I remember thinking to myself, " We are due for a big earthquake but what chances do we have that this would be the one? Nah, there's no way. I'm just being paranoid".

The tremors started to get smaller and I had just started thinking it would all end. Suddenly with no warning, the room started to shake violently to the point where everything in front of my eyes were just a blur. Things started to fall off the shelves-books, glasses and cups, and then it really got serious! The shaking got really intense and at this moment I thought to myself, "This is the day I'm going to die!" I wrapped my body around my dog hoping that he would somehow survive and I kept praying that I would die a quick and painless death.

After awhile the shaking subsided and the entire building just swayed from side to side like a boat lost at sea. "I'm still alive" , I thought. I couldn't believe it! I immediately went into survival mode and started to take action. The building wouldn't stop swaying and I could see the building across from me swaying and I got scared thinking the building would collapse. I quickly got to my feet and went on automatic pilot. I decided to go outside because I didn't know whether it was safe to stay in my building so I grabbed a backpack, put a bottle of water in it, grabbed my anxiety meds and left with Justin in my arms. This is when I noticed that I was breathing hard like those people you see in scary movies. I couldn't believe what had just happened.

*Photo credit : Wikipedia

fire in tokyo
fire in tokyo

Deciding to Head Home

I ran outside and the elevators were understandably not operating so I ran downstairs with my dog under my arm as the building kept swaying from side to side. It was dizzying and horrifying not knowing what to expect. I kept expecting the building to collapse! I ran into a neighbor downstairs who was also in a state of panic and asked if she knew what we should do. She didn't have a clue but said that we should head to the school which was a 10 minute walk from my apartment.

I decided that's what I'd do so I started to walk in that direction. At this exact moment I realized how heavy my dog was and how cold it was outside but I was scared as hell. All I knew was that I was alive and needed to survive. The earth would periodically shake and roll from side to side, making it hard to walk in a straight line. I noticed people crouching down towards the ground every time the earth shook.

I noticed a massive crowd outside the neighborhood electronics store. They were all watching the news on television that was being shown in the shop window. A serious tsunami warning was in effect and there were some damages that occurred in Tokyo including a couple of fires. All trains had stopped running and news reporters were telling everyone to stay away from buildings for fear of falling debris and glass. I realized that I was cold and I needed something other than flimsy pajamas to help me survive. I took a chance and headed on home.

*Photo credit : Wikipedia (fire in Tokyo after the quake)

Returning to My Apartment

Sendai footage
Sendai footage

When I got home, the building was no longer swaying so decided that it was safe to enter. As soon as I entered my living room, I noticed how bad it was. My house was a mess-shattered plates and glasses, laptop on the floor, a toppled bookshelf. The television was on as I left it and I heard the reporter saying that the tsunami were about to hit some parts of Japan. The tsunami devestated cities that were located on the coastline near the epicenter. Fires broke out in various places around Tokyo and some buildings had collapsed in the city. The disaster unfolded right before my eyes on TV.

I still couldn't get a hold of any of my friends on the phone and after awhile I gave up. I also remembered that a good friend of mine lived in Fukushima, which was one of the cities that got hit by the tsunami. Understandably I couldn't get a hold of him and I prayed that he and his family were safe.

I kept the news on for 24 hours while my phone kept ringing with the earthquake emergency signal. Aftershocks were continuous and virtually non-stop. The tsunami caused massive damage and we still didn't know how many people had lost their lives. However reporters were predicting the worse.

*Photo credit: Wikipedia (aerial shot of Sendai from a helicopter)

Earthquake and Tsunami Caught on Video

Supplies You Should Have In Case of Emergencies

During my experience, there were so many things I should have had in my apartment. Here are some things you might want to keep in case of emergencies.

Datrex Emergency Survival Water Pouch (Pack of 64), 125ml
Datrex Emergency Survival Water Pouch (Pack of 64), 125ml

Purified water for emergency use. They are lightweight and super compact making them perfect for emergencies. The 5-year shelf life makes them convenient to store.

 

Events Following the Quake

damaged nuclear reactors
damaged nuclear reactors

The next 24 hours was filled with bad news. I didn't sleep a wink since the earthquake hit and it had been 36 hours before I could sleep. The nuclear power plants in Fukushima were having problems as they were damaged by the tsunami waves. The number of casualties kept rising and aftershocks kept on coming. Stores were filled with people buying extra food and water in Tokyo. Everything was uncertain and nothing was clear except for the fact that something very serious just happened.

For the seven days after the quake hit, it would be difficult to find everyday supplies such as toilet and tissue paper. Food was gone from shelves and the only things left were condiments and spices. The government asked everyone to stop buying in bulk so that those in the worst hit areas would have adequate supplies. I finally got a hold of friends and, with the exception of the one that lived in Fukushima, everyone was ok. My mother, who lives in Hawaii, finally got a hold of me and had a case of water sent to me.

After the first 48 hours had passed, I dove into work because I needed a distraction from all the chaos. I started to feel sick mentally as well as physically and I knew all the events were getting to me. I told myself that I had to just accept what had happened and get on with life.

My family in Hawaii tried to persuade me to come back to Hawaii for awhile, but I had no desire or felt the need to leave. Tokyo was my home and all my friends were here. It didn't feel right to just leave so I stayed.

Detailed Timeline of Events of the Earthquake and Tsunami

*Photo credit : Wikipedia (damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima)

Six Months Later

Temple at Ishinomaki
Temple at Ishinomaki

In less than 24 hours, transportation in Tokyo was pretty much back to normal. People went back to work. Everyone was in mourning for those whose lives were lost so places such as theme parks were temporarily closed and restaurants were all but empty in the city. Parties were cancelled and celebrations were postponed. A few weeks passed and food supplies were back to normal at least in Tokyo. My friend, who lived in Fukushima, finally called me a month later and needless to say, I was relieved. He didn't have phone service and they had lost their home to the tsunami, but fortunately his family was safe. He had lost his job since the company he worked for was damaged by the tsunami. He was having frequent panic attacks now and was thinking of moving away to another town. His mother wanted to stay.

Six months had passed before I decided to go and make a visit to Ishonomaki, one of the hardest hit areas. I don't know why I felt a strong need to go there but I knew I had to see it for myself. My friends and I had a charity event for the disaster shortly after the disaster. My family and friends overseas did their best to contribute financially and I was grateful for that. Yet, I still needed to visit the disaster area so that I would not forget. For reasons unknown to myself, I didn't want to forget this life-changing event.

*Photo taken by me of a temple in Ishinomaki. This was a design I made for charity.

My Visit to Ishinomaki

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here is the main station of Ishinomaki. They are known for animation.As we drove in our car from the station, we could see some damage to buildings.The town was eerily quite.More destruction and abandoned buildings.Still lots of clean up to do.The tsunami also moved things around.You never see buildling like these elsewhere in Japan.Car cleanup after the tsunami.You can see this on both sides of the road.Only after six months, signs of recovery.They are rebuilding trying to move forward.Signs of recovery amidst the debris.Arriving at a temple on a hilltop.Origami cranes and letters to the victims and their families.On the other side of the temple is this torii gate overlooking the area where the most destruction happened. Those who made it up here survived.Looking through the trees there used to be a thriving town.Now after the clean-up, it is completely flat and empty.
Here is the main station of Ishinomaki. They are known for animation.
Here is the main station of Ishinomaki. They are known for animation.
As we drove in our car from the station, we could see some damage to buildings.
As we drove in our car from the station, we could see some damage to buildings.
The town was eerily quite.
The town was eerily quite.
More destruction and abandoned buildings.
More destruction and abandoned buildings.
Still lots of clean up to do.
Still lots of clean up to do.
The tsunami also moved things around.
The tsunami also moved things around.
You never see buildling like these elsewhere in Japan.
You never see buildling like these elsewhere in Japan.
Car cleanup after the tsunami.
Car cleanup after the tsunami.
You can see this on both sides of the road.
You can see this on both sides of the road.
Only after six months, signs of recovery.
Only after six months, signs of recovery.
They are rebuilding trying to move forward.
They are rebuilding trying to move forward.
Signs of recovery amidst the debris.
Signs of recovery amidst the debris.
Arriving at a temple on a hilltop.
Arriving at a temple on a hilltop.
Origami cranes and letters to the victims and their families.
Origami cranes and letters to the victims and their families.
On the other side of the temple is this torii gate overlooking the area where the most destruction happened. Those who made it up here survived.
On the other side of the temple is this torii gate overlooking the area where the most destruction happened. Those who made it up here survived.
Looking through the trees there used to be a thriving town.
Looking through the trees there used to be a thriving town.
Now after the clean-up, it is completely flat and empty.
Now after the clean-up, it is completely flat and empty.

Ishonomaki - A Closer Look

Click thumbnail to view full-size
We walked down from the hill to see it up close at ground level.This was where the tsunami hit the hardest. This used to be a thriving town full of people.Now all you see is rubble.As I walked though, I found a little girl's doll, a tv, books, toys, a remote control...I couldn't stop the tears from coming.A bouquet of flowers, some bottles of drinks and a sign that says we will recover.A framed picture of the deceased, flowers and prayers.In front of a makeshift grave is written, "We will not give up".
We walked down from the hill to see it up close at ground level.
We walked down from the hill to see it up close at ground level.
This was where the tsunami hit the hardest. This used to be a thriving town full of people.
This was where the tsunami hit the hardest. This used to be a thriving town full of people.
Now all you see is rubble.
Now all you see is rubble.
As I walked though, I found a little girl's doll, a tv, books, toys, a remote control...I couldn't stop the tears from coming.
As I walked though, I found a little girl's doll, a tv, books, toys, a remote control...I couldn't stop the tears from coming.
A bouquet of flowers, some bottles of drinks and a sign that says we will recover.
A bouquet of flowers, some bottles of drinks and a sign that says we will recover.
A framed picture of the deceased, flowers and prayers.
A framed picture of the deceased, flowers and prayers.
In front of a makeshift grave is written, "We will not give up".
In front of a makeshift grave is written, "We will not give up".

Life Goes On

picture of me in Ishinomaki
picture of me in Ishinomaki

As I looked out at the sea near Ishonomaki, I wondered what else I could do to help. I asked myself why I had to come and see all this for myself. Looking out at the calm waters, all I could see was beauty and hope for the future. As I looked around town hopping into stores that were open, I noticed something odd. I guess I expected people to look sad and hopeless but instead, shop owners smiled brightly and chatted with me. When I asked them about the event, they politely answered and were happy to talk about it. I then realized that all they wanted was to move forward and to get on with their lives. I saw no beggars on the streets and everyone was working together to rebuild the town they grew up in.

I am glad I made this trip out here because I now know with certainty, that Ishinomaki and all the other devastated towns, will be fine and they will come out stronger than ever. I was happy to see the strength in people and their will to keep on going despite all that's happened.

It's been over two years since that fateful day. All of us living in Tokyo are still expecting the big one to directly hit Tokyo. Scientists predict this will happen in our lifetime. We don't know when exactly this will happen, but I can tell you that this time, we will be much more prepared.

*Photo of myself looking out at the beauty of Ishinomaki.

Thank You from Japan

In this video, people from the Tohoku area are expressing their thanks for all the support from around the world. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone around the world who have helped Japan get back on its feet. I know I speak for everyone and I don't take that for granted and I never will. I have seen so much kindness from people during this time.

Have you ever experienced a major disaster? What were your experiences? Please feel free to share your thoughts. Thanks for reading. :)

Thank You For Reading

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    • Joyfulcrown profile image

      Joyfulcrown 2 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this. I could feel my heart beat racing as I read your account. I live in Southern California so I am in an earthquake area too. I have bolted down most of the big piece of furniture except one. I think I will do that one today. Happy New Year and stay safe.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Ann Hinds thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It's amazing how much it helps to hear from others who have gone through a similar tragedy. It's funny but it does.

      And you are right about being prepared. It's strange how we hear about the big one coming all the time, yet we somehow forget about it as we go about our daily lives.

      Better to be prepared than sorry.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      MelRootsNWrites thanks so much for sharing your story with me. I can relate to that feeling you felt towards strangers. I went through the same feelings and as I watched on TV, the horrors that happened even after the fact, I was emotionally spent by the third day, that I simply had to turn the television off.

      The event affected me in such a big way that it's impossible to explain why to others. Glad that you are safe and pray that we all continue to be. Thanks so much for visiting.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Rhonda Lytle I am glad that you were safe during your experiences with hurricanes. Those can be just as terrifying.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Nancy Hardin, thank you for your kind words. I was very lucky as I was pretty far from the epicenter, even though it was still huge.

      It really was an experience I don't wish on anyone. I learned to be prepared next time. :)

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thanks Donna Cook for commenting. I hope you're having an awesome day.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Mary Crowther yes an emergency pack will definitely be your best friend in times of emergencies.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      ideadesigns, thanks so much for the kind words. I am glad though of the experience as I think I've learned how to be just a little more appreciate of what I already have.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 3 years ago from So Cal

      I have lived in Southern California all my life and have not missed one earthquake. However, I was 3-yrs-old when the 7.something hit Bakersfield and Kern County California where we lived then. I have vivid memories of that event and can describe it in detail and have on some of my hubs.

      I am no longer afraid of them but my first reaction is always as a 3-yr-old. Then I remember I am an adult. We are prepared because as a child, they told us the big one would be in 30 years. Those years went by and they predicted another 30 years. Now, they are predicting the big one within the next 30 years and it has been news for weeks. We have food, water, and shelter. The big things that can hurt us in the house are secured. I will have lots of broken glass so we keep shoes by the bed. We have done everything we can to keep us safe.

      The USGS site is on my phone and computer. It's the first thing I go to. I feel even small earthquakes and sometimes have to prove it to my family.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad you survived to tell the tale because the more we share, the safer others will be. They have to understand what it takes to make it though. We are told we cannot count on help for at least three days. The major freeways will collapse at the Santa Ana River when the bridges go down through liquefaction.

      My heart and prayers went out to those who lost family and friends in the earthquake and tsunami. I cried about people half a world away but I was and still am impressed by the spirit of the people of Japan who rose above the devastation to rebuild.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      What a gripping account. This is a topic near and dear to me. My ancestors lived through the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and I lived through the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area.

      My experience was different than yours. I did not know it was a big earthquake that I felt until I got back to work (the subway was shut down) and saw images on TV. I had a hard time accepting what I thought was a small shake was really something huge.

      We only had minor damage in Loma Prieta and our family and friends were fine. You know the part I was not fully prepared for? It was the emotional aspect. It was one of those times I felt part of a wider community. I can remember hovering over the TV for days wondering if they would get everyone out of the collapsed freeway structure. It seemed our own hope was hinged upon the last man pulled out alive after several days of being trapped in his car. And then, he died anyway. I remember feeling as if I had lost a family member and the grief that came with it. It was a strange feeling to feel such loss for strangers. I believe many of us in this area felt that same sense of collective grief.

      I learned a lot about resiliency after Loma Prieta, about healing. It makes me realize how amazing my great grandmother was to survive 1906 6 weeks after giving birth--and her baby surviving as well.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Your account was gripping. I can only imagine the terror such an experience must have been. I've been on ground zero for two major hurricanes and get the impression they were a walk in the park compared to an earthquake. I was so moved by your account of going to see the devastation later, especially by your recognition of the human spirit, the drive to rebuild community. God bless you for this and I hope the scientist are wrong and you never again experience something like this. They say that which does not kill us makes us stronger but they usually leave out the part about how much it hurts at the time.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Shinichi, I hope you will forgive me my friend, for not realizing what you went through with the earthquake. I guess I'm really geographically challenged, because when they say "Tokyo," I didn't think of you being there. In my mind you were in another city, away from all the damage and terror. This was a traumatic event for you, and I hope it will never happen again. Thank you for sharing your experience, and I pray for you and your homeland.

    • profile image

      Donna Cook 3 years ago

      Amazing lens! Thank heavens you are safe. I've only experienced a couple of minor tremors but was absolutely terrified.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 3 years ago from Havre de Grace

      How frightening! Luckily I have not been through anything like that. I like your idea of having a backpack prepared and ready for an emergency, which I think is a great idea no matter where you live. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    • profile image

      ideadesigns 3 years ago

      Watched the videos and read your stories. So horrible what happened there in 2011. The people lost, the heart to help others, new friendships, not taking things for granted. Glad you and your dog are ok. Thanks for your braveness in sharing that traumatic and heart wrenching experience.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @norma-holt: Thanks so much for reading my account of this earthquake.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 3 years ago

      You have done an outstanding job with this story and definitely deserved the LOTD. The video I watched was gripping from start to finish. Although it is a horrid story and Japan has suffered much it strikes me that these events have a lot to do with the times we are living in when all things will come to an end as we know them. Hundreds of thousands have been wiped out by earthquakes and tsunamis over the last few years, starting with the Indonesian one. There is obviously a lot more to come as biblical prophecies are fulfilled. Well done.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Zeross4: Daisy please stay safe over there. Those tornadoes are just incredibly huge! And for Justin, I didn't even think about it. I'm saving him no matter what! ;)

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @LornsA178: Thank you for your kind words and for visiting my lens. I truly appreciate it.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @sousababy: Rose I am also very happy that you survived that avalanche. Taking Justin with me wasn't even a question although he was heavier than I thought! lol. And again, thank you Rose for being such a warm person. I am so glad to have met you here.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Merrci: Thank you so much for your kind words Merrci. I felt I needed to share this story with the world. Thank you for reading.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Family_Survival_Strategies: Thank you so much for reading my lens. I truly appreciate it the thoughtful comment. Yes I agree with you about the importance of being prepared. So many of us were not prepared for it. Now we know better. Unfortunately many had to learn the hard way.

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      That would have been such a scary experience! In Kentucky, I live in an area people refer to as "tornado valley" and we've had some pretty scary tornadoes close to home, one recently wiped out a small town in our area! This was a very interesting read, and well put together! I still think it was so sweet that you wrapped around your dog to save him!

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your personal experience with the tsunami, I admired you for your courage of writing this sad incident. I am so impressed with the Japanese government on how they responded. Thanks again for this great lens.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 3 years ago

      Wow, smine27 . . this is so well told. I wrote about my college trip to Florida where a bus load of us were trapped in the Cumberland Mountains (there were fears of an avalanche). I even wrote a similar sentence in my lens, that I hoped death would be quick (like my skull getting crushed) and therefore painless.

      I've only experienced a mild tremor when I was 15 years old. I was practicing piano and the house started to shake. The dishes "rattled" and it was over in seconds (nothing at all compared to what you lived to tell). It's so endearing that you took your doggie Justin with you.

      That tape of the quake and the subsequent tsunami was an overpowering reminder of how fragile we really are.

      So glad to see this won LotD and a purple star. You are a treasure here on Squidoo.

      Take good care,

      Rose

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Wonderful lens! Few of us have been in an EQ of that size. And the longer it goes on the more you worry about how bad it is. The memories of it last a long time, but you have done well to visit and help as you are able. I can still feel the sensation in my stomach, post quake, when each aftershock would hit. It's amazing how strong and resilient the people of Japan have been when we see how much was lost. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. It certainly deserved LotD!

    • profile image

      Family_Survival_Strategies 3 years ago

      This is EXACTLY the time of severe event I prep for. I live in the US and not in an earthquake prone area so it's a little different for us. But we get tornadoes, hurricanes, floods. That stuff always comes with little to no warning and it can disrupt life for at least a few weeks if not longer. This is why it's so important to have a bug out (evacuation) backpack as well as some emergency supplies of food, water and tools at home. Thank you so much for sharing your story. What happened in Japan in March 2011 is absolutely chilling and I still think about it often. My heart still goes out to all the people of Japan and all the losses they have incurred. Peace and love to you. -Pepper M, Website Owner, familysurvivalstrategies.org

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Titia: Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment Titia. I truly appreciate it. :)

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 4 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      I just watched the 46 minute video above and though I've seen the images on the tv, this video was even more impressive and brought the whole disaster very close again. I know, natural disasters will continue to happen all over the world and each time it happens, it's making us realize that nothing can hold back the force of nature, how hard we try. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @RoadMonkey: Yes, the tsunami was so devastating that the earthquake was almost forgotten. It's good to know that you are prepared. :) Hope you're having an awesome week RoadMonkey

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @WriterJanis2: It was the scariest thing I ever experienced.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 4 years ago

      I am glad that I have never experienced a major disaster. However, I have a tub of stuff kept under the stairs with emergency supplies just in case anything happens. A very frightening time. Thank you for describing this terrible event. We saw it on TV and it was horrific to see the tsunami rolling in but I didn't see as much about the earthquake.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Earthquakes can be so frightening.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @TanoCalvenoa: Thank you so much for your kind comments. 7.2 is rather large for an earthquake. Glad you and your family were ok. Let's make sure that we are both prepared since we live in earthquake prone areas.

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      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      Wow, this lens is amazing and powerful. An incredible account of a terrible disaster. I've experienced a 7.2 earthquake and I was right next to the epicenter, although that's nothing compared to 9.0. Here in Southern California we're waiting for a big one (8.0 or so) to happen someday. Prayers for Japan, as I know the problems are not yet over 2.5 years later.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @ecogranny: thank you Grace for our kind words.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @paperfacets: Thank you for reading paperfacets. The interesting thing was that although I was in a state of panic, my body automatically did the things I was supposed to do like getting myself under a sturdy table with a pillow over my head.

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      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Nothing like this. May all who survived continue to be blessed.

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      Sherry Venegas 4 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I live in southern California and have not experienced anything more than a 5 something. I only can imagine the panic one feels when the shaking will not stop. Your article was very interesting and readable. Thank you for the insight and preparations needed in such an event.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Johanna Eisler: Thank you so much for your kind words. I really do appreciate it. California is such a beautiful place and is one of my favorite cities in America. I do hope I get to visit again in the near future.

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      Johanna Eisler 4 years ago

      Your personal story and the videos you shared brought back the tears and the compassion that the whole world felt as they watched what Japan was going through. Prayers from around the world were going up for the people of Japan. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

      I recently saw this video which gave a tiny glimpse of what was happening a year after the disaster: http://www.jw.org/en/news/by-region/asia/japan/ It, too, touched my heart.

      Thank you for showing the world the importance of disaster preparedness. We are working to be prepared here in California, too, and I'm sure people everywhere are doing the same thing. :)

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Snakesmum: Thank you so much for your comment. Justin is safe. I am safe. Everything is good. :)

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      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      You have told the story very well, and it felt as if I was there with you. Glad you and Justin got out ok.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Adventuretravels: Thank you for reading. I truly appreciate it. I am glad that you were safe in Athens.

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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      I've never experienced a big earthquake like the one you describe here. But I was in Athens once and the floor started to shake and pictures fell off the wall. That was very frightening! My heart is with the brave people of Japan. Good luck to you. Thank you for this very insightful lens.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @sharadkgupta lm: Definitely sharadkgupta. Stay safe.

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      sharadkgupta lm 4 years ago

      Really an earthquake is making us horrible.So we should take care of precautions.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @kingsrookie lm: I know what you mean. I wonder about hurricanes and what it would be like to experience it. I know it would be scary for me.

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      kingsrookie lm 4 years ago

      I'm used to hurricanes and massive rain storms but no earthquakes. I've always wondered how it is to experience them.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @qikey1 lm: I've gotten a bit better with it, but yes I'm very sensitive to the slightest tremors.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @GabrielaFargasch: Hurricanes are so scary in America. Stay safe and thanks for reading.

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      qikey1 lm 4 years ago

      Wow! Thanks for sharing your experience. I lived in California for some time and I developed 'feelers' in my feet because I was always waiting for that shaking sensation... I wonder if you will now forever be 'feeling' or looking for the slightest tremor??

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      GabrielaFargasch 4 years ago

      Wow!

      Here in Southwest Florida there's always the danger of hurricanes...

      I've never experienced an earthquake before...

      My sister lives in California though and from time to time there's an earthquake there...

      You definitely did the right thing by running outside...

      I would probably have done the same thing...

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @SavioC: I'm so glad that you and your family were safe and ok. Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my lens.

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      SavioC 4 years ago

      What a coincidence as just this very day 30 Sept in 1993 at around 3 am I and my wife woke up as the apartment was kind of rattling. I ran to the balcony and realised it was an earthquake so I came back to my bed and lay down my wife asked me are we going to do anything , we live on the third floor so I told her by the time we run down maybe this building will collapse so might as well stay in the house and wait for what happens. Nothing happened so we slept (we did not). Next morning we heard it was India's biggest earthquake and thousands perished. It was my first experience which I cannot forget as it was my birthday too. Thanks for this lens.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @samsmom7: Ohhh those hurricanes in America are like monsters! Thanks for commenting.

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      samsmom7 4 years ago

      I've never experienced and earthquake but we do get hurricanes and huge thunderstorms here in Florida. Not sure which is worse! Thanks for sharing!

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @RoSelou: Thank God you were safe Roselou. I would love to visit Cebu one of these days. It looks like a beautiful place.

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      RoSelou 4 years ago

      @smine27: Yes, this is very true. We were having headaches after the earthquake. Our body felt slight trembling and shaking. We became more anxious that even the sound waves of a bus make us think there is another earthquake coming.

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      RoSelou 4 years ago

      Almost one year after the earthquake in Japan, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Cebu City on February 6, 2012. That was terrible, it was my first time to experience an earthquake. The chairs were moving and the light was swaying. We were in the school at that time, we immediately follow safety measure to get out from the building. Thanks God we were safe. I know for sure how it feels to be in an earthquake.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @sybil watson: Oh gosh, that is scary to even think about! I'm really glad you and your family were ok!

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @anonymous: Very happy that you are safe and made it through. Thank you for your kind words. :)

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @ChocolateLily: Aww thanks as always ChocolateLily.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @SusanDeppner: Thank you Susan52! You are really sweet. :)

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @MrAusAdventure: Glad that your friends was safe. It must have been a traumatic experience for him. Thanks for reading!

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @jjvicars: You're right about CNN. I stopped watching the international news during that time because they were sensationalizing everything especially about the radiation threat. Thanks for your comments. I do appreciate it.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @favored: Thanks so much favored1. I really appreciate your comments.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @dbitterman: Thank you for those kind words. I truly appreciate it.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @LoriBeninger: Thank you! I have to say I was rather excited about the LOTD and the purple star. It was all unexpected and overwhelming to say the least. Glad that you were safe during the earthquake.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @delia-delia: d-artist, thanks so much for your comment. Ever since the big earthquake, I have become very sensitive to even small tremors as well it's so weird. I am glad that you are your family are safe.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @girlfriendfactory: Thanks so much for your comments. All the rubble and debris is actually a big problem. Even to this day, they are still trying to figure out what to do with this. Some cities here have agreed to take some of them but it's still a temporary solution at best.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @MargaritasWorld: Thank you so much for your comments. I'm so glad that you and your family was safe.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @KentuckyGal LM: I am so glad that you and your family were safe from the tornado. Tornadoes frighten me and would not know what to do if there ever was one near me.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @GrammieOlivia: Thank you grammieo and god bless!

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @somebudiesangel2: Thank you so much for reading my lens. I really wasn't prepared when it happened and to be honest, I still forget sometimes. I go through a checklist in my mind every time we get a small tremor. Be prepared and stay safe. :)

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @writerkath: Awww KathyT, those are very kind words. I truly appreciate it.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @rainykua: Thanks so much for reading and commeting. I'm really glad that you are safe and sound. Your experience must have been scary as well.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Stuwaha: Thank you so much for reading and commenting Stuwaha. Just to let you know, I love reading your lenses. You write from your heart and it shows. I look forward to reading more of them. Thanks again!

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @anonymous: Thank you for reading zling. I hope to visit your beautiful country one of these days.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @weakbond: You are so correct about fear. My body didn't feel good for a very long time afterwards. Thanks for your comments.

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      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @LynetteBell: Thank you for that PGA info. I have never heard of it but it does make sense. Some of the earthquakes we get here feel stronger than the richter magnitude. Here in Japan, we use a seismic scale that measures that degree of shaking at a specific location. I'm so happy that you were ok and safe. Christchurch is such a beautiful place and it is on my list of places to visit.

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      LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I live in Christchurch and have experienced the September 2010 quake and the subsequent 12,000 plus earthquakes. Although the quake in Feb 2011 was 6.3 it was certainly more violent with the highest G rating ever recorded at 2.2. Apparently the shaking of an earthquake is more closely related to the peak ground acceleration (PGA) than to the Richter magnitude. It's a bit beyond my knowledge but I do understand the effect! The shaking has moved further North so we have calmed down now. I've written a lens on being prepared for earthquakes.

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      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Highly informative lens , in fact it is not something i wish to experience because fear can even kill someone .Thanks for sharing

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My best read on Squidoo so far. Thank you for sharing your experience...earthquakes are scary.

      Malaysia doesn't have earthquakes but neighboring Indonesia has. All I've ever experienced are tremors when an earthquake hits Indonesia. Mild swaying of building, but scary enough because in our country, we do not build structures to withstand it.

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      Stuwaha 4 years ago

      I've come back now that the comment bug is fixed. I've never been involved in a major disaster, however It's been very moving reading a story like this written from the perspective of someone who was there as opposed to reading a sterile news report. I think we're all a bit desensitized to this sort of devastation when it happens to a place far away from us, but reading an article like this makes it so much more real. Glad you got through it unharmed :)

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      rainykua 4 years ago

      In 1991, I was at home with my twin sister and my mom when a strong earthquake hit us. My dad was still at work that time. We ran to the door and opened it to keep ourselves from being locked up. We were crying and screaming. My dad came home and carried me out of our building ( I was around 6 that time). He brought us to his office as we waited. I left my slippers at home so I was barefooted the whole time. When we went back, our things were a mess. It also left some cracks on our walls.

      Your experience is really scary. I'm glad you, your dog, and your friends are all safe. I have been to Japan once so it holds a special place in my heart. This is really a wonderful lens. Congrats for the LOTD! :)

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      writerkath 4 years ago

      Your story brought tears to my eyes. You have told a very emotional story, and I am so glad that you, your dog (I am an animal lover) and your family are safe. I have felt only a slight tremor of an earthquake, once, many years ago in New Zealand. I've seen some minor (in comparison to your situation) destruction due to hurricane - but nothing like the devastation you and your friends and neighbors, and others in similar situations have endured. You did a very sensitive job on this lens, and I bow to you and your Lens of the Day honors.

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      Tami-Lynn 4 years ago from North Vancouver

      Just watched the videos and read your whole lense....wow. Im happy that you survived and am in awe of what your country dealt with. I live on the west coast of Vancouver in BC, Canada . We live on a huge earthquake fault and know that one day the 'big one' is coming.....I recall being a small child in 1964 when we felt the effects of a quake off of Alaska ...it actually created a tsunami in an area just up the coast called Pt.Hardy.....I recall dishes coming out of our cupboards and breaking....i was a tiny girl and fell down on the floor from the shaking. We put it out of our minds that we are at risk......but you are correct....we should be prepared. God bless your people....

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      GrammieOlivia 4 years ago

      This beautiful testament to what can happen when we work together! I have never experienced what you have, and I thank God each day, that I'm in a reasonably safe place. I will always help whoever is in need! God Bless!

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      KentuckyGal LM 4 years ago

      Wow. The closest I've ever been to a natural disaster was having to get into the bathtub with my 1-1/2 year old son (I was also expecting our 2nd child at the time) and cover our heads with a mattress ... but the tornado missed us.

      Thank you for using your experience to give suggestions on how to prepare for future disasters. You have provided a great service. Congratulations on a well-deserved LOTD!

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      Margarita Boettcher 4 years ago from Morrison, Colorado

      Some of the best footage I've seen. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am so sorry for the tremendous loss your country has suffered. I am very glad you are ok. Lots of prayers your way from Morrison Colorado, USA.

      My family and I were in Mexico City a few days before the 1985 earthquake. The hotel we stayed at was leveled, completely destroyed. I have a lot of family in Mexico. We were blessed no one was hurt. But my family there lost a lot of friends and loved ones in the quake. So many that they don't know, will never know how they perished. They just simply disappeared. Some of them were medical staff. So sad.

      Congrats on the lens of the day. Well deserved.

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      girlfriendfactory 4 years ago

      What a poignant telling of your harrowing experience! So glad that you and your dog survived! Your pictures were very moving. I have to wonder what happens to all of the rubble after natural disasters. I'm glad that rebuilding is underway! Congrats on LoTD!

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      Delia 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! And I'm Happy you made through it with your life. Yes I have experienced many earthquakes when I lived in San Francisco...it was frightful to experience, although ours was not as violent as yours, the worst I ever felt was a 6.5 Richter scale. I'm very sensitive to earthquakes and have felt them in Hawaii, Missouri and here in Wisconsin.

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      LoriBeninger 4 years ago

      I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. It was a harrowing experience, but we were far more fortunate than Japan: few lives were lost and we did not have a nuclear disaster to deal with. This is a magnificent lens - well written and moving. Congratulations on the LoTD award and a well-deserved Purple Star. Brilliant.

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      dbitterman 4 years ago

      What a powerful and moving chronicle of your experience. Congratulations on a fantastic lens, your LotD award and a well-deserved Purple Star. You have my admiration for your courage and compassion.

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      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Nothing like this. I don't think we fully realize what happens in people's lives when disaster strikes. Thank you for bringing us into an enlightenment of what really happened that day. LotD credit indeed.

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      jjvicars 4 years ago

      There was also the fourth disaster- foreign media. CNN should have been brought up on criminal charges for all their "nation plundered into chaos" stories that got everyone back home worked up. Us ex-pats who were there at the time had to stay on Facebook and Twitter for 2 weeks straight reporting the real news. Folks back home were going into a panic, which leads to a fifth tragedy. Most of our friends and families back home were worked up because of the percieved threat of radiation that would drift towards THEM! They didn't give a rat's ass about the people in Fukushima, just themselves, and completely ignored all the toxic waste that passes for normal right in their own back yard.

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      Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Thank you for posting this. I know an Australian guy who was living in Japan when this event happened. He said that it was pretty terrifying, but he was a long way from the hardest hit areas. He only just returned to Australia about a month ago after three years in Japan. I really do hope that you do not have to live through this again, but as you say, Japan is on the ring of fire and it is inevitable that it will happen again. Congrats on LOTD. :-)

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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Back to say that I am so happy for your well-deserved Lend of the Day honors! I felt like I was going through that earthquake with you. Well done!

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      ChocolateLily 4 years ago

      Came back to say congratulations on your well deserved Lens of the Day! :)