Feeling the Ground Shake in Fukuoka, Japan
Thursday, April 14th 2016, 8.45 pm. We get on our night bus from Kyoto to Fukuoka. Despite Simon getting sick from a very cold day, we’ve just spent a great week in beautiful Kyoto and as always, I’m sad to leave but ready and excited to see what’s next. And the next step in our journey is Fukuoka.
This post is also available in: Français (French)
When we were organising our trip in Japan and trying to come up with our itinerary, we had to choose between Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Sure, Hiroshima has a big history and is worldly famous for it. On the other side, Fukuoka was a totally new name to me. I had never heard of it before and all I could focus on was that it was right by the ocean. To end the suspense here, we chose Fukuoka.
Friday, April 15th, 8.40 am. We arrive in Fukuoka. We’re tired and stuck with our backpacks until we can check-in at our airbnb flat later in the day, so we find the closest Mcdonald’s to sit, eat and use wifi to get in touch with our families. This is when I see a message from my sister asking about the earthquake. The earthquake?? A quick research is enough to find out about the earthquake of a 6.5 magnitude that stroke in Kumamoto the previous evening, just over 60 miles from Fukuoka. It’s all over the news and the damages are bad.
The day goes on and we finally get to our flat. We meet the owner very briefly and we are happy to have our own space to rest until the end of the day. There’s a good and long night of sleep ahead of us.
But our night is cut short. At 1.30 am, we suddenly wake up to a strange feeling and an unknown situation.
The floor and the whole building are shaking.
The fridge is rattling on the floor, something falls on the floor and a drawer opens. It only lasts a few seconds but a lot has time to happen in my mind. It’s very short but intense, impressive and scary.
It’s still daytime in France and Texas and our reflex is to immediately get in touch with our families. It’s somehow reassuring to be able to share what’s just happened to us. We feel less lonely but we’re still unsure about how to react to the situation. The ground is shaking again and I’m panicking. It only lasts a few seconds again. We try to rationalise and see it with perspective. It’s probably the aftershock of the earthquake of the night before and it’s not going to last.
After a little while, it seems like it’s calmed down and we try to go back to sleep, which doesn’t take long for Simon. I’m tired but wide awake and my mind is way too active to get some rest. I feel a new quake, less strong this time and Simon even sleeps through it. Another one occurs, stronger, waking Simon up who tries to reassure me “It’s going to be ok, it’s ok” before going right back to sleep. Every time, the first thing I do is look in the street. Nobody seems scared, everything seems normal. A few hours after the first quake, things are back to normal and I’m finally able to get some rest.
In the morning, we are pretty shaken by the eventful night and learn that what we felt was actually a new earthquake of a 7.3 magnitude in the region of Kumamoto again. We feel the ground shaking again every now and then throughout the day when at home, at the fifth floor of the building. When in the street though, we never feel anything and it’s actually reassuring. There is no damages in Fukuoka, we hope it’s over.
The only certainty is that the images of the damages all over the news on tv and the fear and feeling of being totally unsafe I felt will remain with me for a long time.