I learned the word for earthquake in Japanese yesterday in dramatic fashion. My cell phone and others around me suddenly started buzzing around 2:00 PM with the word jishin and some other instructions I did not understand. It was the advanced warning system here in Japan and it gave us a few seconds to take cover to protect ourselves from an earthquake. I don’t know how they do it, but it provided me a surreal moment, waiting for the anticipated shaking and possible destruction. I froze a bit, but not out of fear but out of excitement and anticipation of the experience. I didn’t go fully under the desk because I wanted to see what would happen. The shaking started slowly and then I could feel the entire building swaying slowly back and forth. A strange sensation!
The epicenter was 11 kilometers deep and around 300 kilometers away from us. Minoh is approximately where the arrow is and the epicenter is the red “x” in the Tottori prefecture. It is one of our favorite vacation spots with mountains and sand dunes. The intensity measured 6 shindo (degree of shaking)on the Japanese earthquake measuring scale which is slightly different from the Richter scale. I would say it was between a 3 and 4 in Minoh, our suburb of Osaka.
Everyone handled the emergency well and were calm and took shelter under a desk or table at school. After the shaking stopped, we checked the NHK news and upon finding out it was far away, we resumed classes as normal.
I won’t forget the experience nor the word, jishin.