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Japanese earthquake - 11th March 2011

It has been a year now since Japan experienced a major earthquake, tsunami and damage of a nuclear power plant, which made us all start thinking about our safety. At this point I find myself in the same place where I began living through the Japanese tragedy. Tomorrow it will have been a year since and so I decided to rewrite the notes on my feelings for you to remind everyone about what we were experiencing these days, even though every one of us differently.

Friday: 11th March 2011 - Between two and three o´clock I was in my room, sitting at my computer checking e-mails. At that moment it started to sway a little and I said to myself: well, it swings as it did last year. I was in the bathtub. An unusual feeling when you do not know whether to wait or leave the bathtub. But in a short while it stopped. So it is over. I am thinking to myself: well, not much. After a while again. But suddenly it began to escalate, and I started getting preoccupied. I thought: it is still good; but the earthquake intensified and I began to feel like on waves. At the same time I could see the floor, furniture, walls changing position, and everything appeared like when you start to hallucinate and see how immaterial things start moving and undulating.

I am watching all that, aware of how unique the situation feels to me, but at the same time I think to myself that it is getting bad. I keep reassuring myself by the information that if it does not jump and it just rocks, it's still good. But as it is intensifying, I pick up my cell phone and a mobile external hard drive and run out in front of the building. The Japanese were all standing on the street in front of their houses, waiting for what would come next. Suddenly, it calmed down, so I go back to my room. In five minutes again. But this time stronger. I take up my cell phone (so that I could call home), external drive, and then also the money and my sweatshirt. The furniture was shaking, things falling down and everything was like on waves. And then I run outside, where the Japanese had been standing the whole time in front of their houses. Then it rippled now and then all day long. It was interesting that when it continued the next morning and the day after, the feeling was as if something was giving way, or as if something greater was yet to come. Simply something that is not over yet.

In the evening I am on my way to a training in Noda-shi. When I stopped for the red light the ground began to wave again and all the cars rocked from side to side. Now what? I tell myself: should I get out or wait? I look around and see how the Japanese are still walking on along the sidewalk as if all that is happening was ordinary. So I am staying. They certainly know what is going to come. Anyway it is a common experience for them, I thought. I keep driving and then pull up by a store, where they sell quality wine at a good price. But as I could see, everything was closed. Both restaurants and shops. Employees were standing around waiting for further instructions.

I'm going on to Matsumoto San. I have an appointment. But on the way to Noda-shi, a traffic jam began to form. It is the direction to the station. I thought to myself: it is forming at the gates and the other part is empty. Then I try to drive through narrow streets, some were so narrow that I was not sure whether I could pass through with the car at all. Eventually I got to Matsumoto San`s place. He showed me pictures of how the tiles of the roof of his house fell down. He called the insurance company to report damage. During the visit the ground began to sway again. Matsumoto San is sitting at rest and so I stay calm too. Later I go on to the training. But the street was still blocked by cars. So I drove again through the narrow streets to get at least to Sayzeria restaurant where there is a large parking lot.

When I parked, I had yet some time so I wanted to go for a meal. But I was told that they did not cook and that it was possible to buy beverages only. So I had a coffee and went to buy something to Lawson where it was still open. On the way to the training (in Hombu Dojo) I realized the cause of all that traffic congestion? The trains are not running and barriers are down. And yet on the other side it is empty. Damn!, I thought. Where are they now all those police officers and all the helpers and those uniformed people who are usually here on every corner? When all trains stopped and everything is turned off, it would take only one to level open the barrier and the police would control traffic. And now, when needed, no one around. And if it is all computer controlled, then where is the logic?

I come to Hombu Dojo. There are only a few students from Germany, three Japanese and two from Australia. There are several pictures and plates with names lying around on the floor variously askew. The altar lies broken on the floor. Together we tidy things up and put them back in place. Then in the evening on TV I see the disaster, what actually happened. Tsunami washed away houses, cars and is approaching the U.S… A refinery plant is on fire, including the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Everyone is afraid that it explodes. The journals allege that it is the strongest earthquake in 140 years. And there have already been 1,400 people reported dead. Well, I hope everything will be ok. Me as well.

Nonetheless, I have to say that, to me emotionally, there is something about the situation that I like. Excitement and situations in which the official rules no longer apply, and all is but the reality, and I have to behave and react naturally. That makes me feel good. Hm, it is swinging again ...

Sunday: There were only few people at the training. The Japanese stayed at home, and as far as I heard, 15 students arrived and then immediately returned home for fear of the current situation. All those who had just arrived are returning back home now. Those who were here were leaving. It could be felt that the Japanese were irritated by the fact that the people were leaving. But they must remain here alone. It is possible that these are just my feelings.

Evening: The power plant went off again. Another earthquake and tsunami are being expected. - This is what I have been feeling the whole time.

Monday:  At 11.05 allegedly a reactor exploded. The shops are empty. But I did not see that they were full of people. More probably they are not supplied anymore. The trains are not running and transport is not working. The whole situation feels like before a war. I do not feel like going home. At home everything is secured and here I can be helpful.

Tuesday: A radioactive cloud is being expected. Hopefully everything will be fine. The Czech government sent two military aircraft for the Czechs to Japan. But no one informed me. The U.S. Embassy contacted all its citizens and asked them to return home. Our plane arrived, but mainly for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, which were performing in Japan these days, and a few officials, women and children.

Thursday: Today the power is turned off for four hours. Tomorrow again. This was in order to save energy so there is enough for the whole Japan. Today it was evident that the shops started to get supplies again. There was enough food again and you could easily buy drinking water during the morning.

I went to Noguchi Sensei`s training, but there was no one there. The Japanese are at home and foreigners have left. Sensei asked me why I had not left too. I say, I have come to study. I'm here and the situation is not so bad for me.

Tomorrow there is going to be training at the Hombu Dojo. It should have been in Ayase (Tokyo). At Budokan there will be accommodated those people who have lost their homes because of the tsunami.

Friday: There were only nineteen of us at the training today. Twelve Japanese and 6 foreigners, who have families here, and me. After many years it was a training like those I experienced twenty years ago. Overall it was a Japanese training, no regard for foreigners. We were more like present onlookers than anything else. Overall, it was challenging. Soke focused on details and taught the way Takamatsu Sensei did. I felt like the biggest blunderbuss and I struggled to understand the idea of the technique that was being practiced. It was a feeling of helplessness. But I was happy - after years – to be experiencing this kind of training again, and I felt like when I first arrived in Japan.
Soke spoke to the problem that we needed to be prepared. That's why I stay here. I know about the problem and I know that the problem may be greater. I am not going to panic, I'm ready.


My feelings on the current situation.

People ask me: why don`t you leave for home? All foreigners have left. At home, only a few people asked. But really! - No one asked me to come back. Maybe if the government said, I would give it a thought. But it did not. When I return home it is not going to solve anything. The children are already grownups and they are in safety. The rest of the family are adults and live their own lives. Bujinkan in the Czech Republic, students, everything is at a level where they do not need me anymore. So I felt there was nothing important that would make me go home. Furthermore, I feel that if I am needed, then it is right here I could be more helpful than if I am safe at home. Furthermore, I have come to Japan for something and to see someone from whom I want to study. That means to me now that I co-experience the current problem with this country and all the people I know here. And I even see my presence to be like my support for them, I'm here with them.

My honor keeps me here. If I left, I would feel like a rat that runs away first. I'd be ashamed of myself. When I am asked: what if it went off here? I answer: I take it the way it is, and if the worst should come, I cannot do anything about it. For me it is important to live and die with honor.

When the tsunami came, the power station exploded and the worst had come eventually, frankly I felt really good. It reminded me of the time in the army and situations when I knew I was doing something dangerous, but it was my decision. And in these situations, I can feel myself. It's me. Reality and me. Nothing else matters. It is a state in which you feel "I" and that you are alive. And in which new rules come to life. Not the rules of officials, but the rules of the reality. So I felt good and was not afraid. Because come what may I'm the one who decided, and the one who was experiencing it. And here it does not matter anymore how long you live.

So I am finished writing and I am just about to return home to Koshigaya. It is very cold outside. My feet are freezing, because I am going on a bike with a pair of summer sneakers on which don`t warm at ll. I`ll get home, I'll have some wine and to hell with everything. I mean, for today! Tomorrow is another day and new things ...

11th – 18th March 2011

ˆ nahoru
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