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Earthquake!

Not really! I just experienced my first earthquake/fire-drill at school. The earthquake part of it consisted only of everyone ducking under their desks for a few minutes and grabbing its legs. I couldn’t help but thinking that, according to the videos I’ve seen, getting under a desk wouldn’t do a whole lot of good in the event of a major earthquake. Even though it’s hard to take the threat seriously when I haven’t felt a single Earthquake in the 11 months I’ve been here, the fact is that Japan experiences 20% of the world’s high-magnitude earthquakes (above 6). I could have sworn, when I stood in Tokyo for the first time, that the ground felt unstable underneath me. At first I thought it was just the heat, or jet-leg, but my boyfriend reported experiencing the same feeling. I can’t back it up, but I have been told that Japan has small tremors happening almost constantly, but people are simply used to them and don’t notice. It could therefore have very well been some small tremors that I felt that day, and not just my imagination. I haven’t had the same sensation since; I guess I’ve gotten used to it.

 Used to it or not, the truth is frightening. Kochi expects to get a HUGE and horrendously destructive Earthquake within the next 30 years or so. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen 25 years from now. No one is sure. They call it the “Great Nankai Earthquake,” and it strikes Kochi every 100-150 years. It’s caused by the friction of the Philippine Sea Plate being pulled under the Eurasian Plate. Over time, the friction becomes too much, and the Eurasia Plate pops back up, causing a massive Earthquake and tsunami. Kochi’s Earthquake information website has some pretty scary-sounding things to say about it:

In the event of a disaster as massive as the Nankai Earthquake, damage will be far greater than any government could hope to cope with. Your ability to survive until government assistance finally arrives will depend upon your own preparedness and the assistance of family, friends and neighbors…I exhort you all to prepare for the inevitable.

Yes. Terrifying stuff, that. And yet, in spite of the fear, I have procrastinated to the point that I still don’t even have a first-aid kit in my earthquake pack, and not nearly enough food or water stored up. I look around Kochi some days and think to myself “one day I’ll hear about this on the news,” or “this landscape will never look the same again, after the quake.” Honestly, though, I can only sincerely hope and pray I hear about it on the news, and someone should probably beat me into better preparing myself. Just in case.

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