Planned Power Outages: No Fun At All

Considering the suffering in many towns and the rural communities in Tohoku, I feel lucky. I moved to this town because I thought it would be safe, and so far, knock-on-wood, it has been just wonderful. Yesterday and today, we felt the effects of the planned power outages, however, and I can only try to imagine what people are going through in Tohoku region, in shelters, having lost everything.

The schedule for when the electricity will be cut is impossible to understand, and my city hall makes public announcements on the outdoor PA system, which I think was installed before WW2. It sounds something like: "Bing-bong-bang, This is-this-is-is City hall-city hall-alall, We are now-a now-wow, Going to tell you something really important-tant-tant..." and from there on it gets increasingly impossibly to understand a single word. This means a planned power outage is imminent. OK, good, I can handle that.

Last night I had supper with Robert, a friend who runs his own business, cool website, do get in touch with him for hiking and mountain running experiences in the west Tokyo and Saitama area! Perfect if you feel you need to get out of Tokyo.

We sat by the light of a small torch and shared stories and then suddenly there was another big quake, but I swear I can't remember it. Later, the lights came back on and we listened to his Pink Floyd albums and some Blues, I think it was Blind Willie Johnson, Dark was the night perhaps. Today the planned outage was in the daytime, so I headed over to the vegetable patch I'm preparing (remember my post about Kaname-ishi on March 11...) and got back home just in time for darkness. Fortunately, then the lights came back on, but I had mentally prepared myself for the worst.

Planned outages means we know what is coming, which is nice. But walking home on streets with some cars, and no traffic lights working, was not so fun. The big intersections had pairs of police officers directing traffic, but many smaller roads were free-for-all. All shops and restaurants in town were closed during the outage, except for Seven-Eleven, which operated with low lights and only one register, and lots of staff. They had some food, but of course not like on a regular day. Actually, their truck just arrived as I entered. Some people are urgently calling for a complete shut-down of all vending machines, as they waste a lot of electricity. Good idea, however, when no shops are open, make sure the vending machines work as they may be the last line of supply. Difficult call, obviously, as so many nuclear power plants are shut down and TEPCO just can't supply the "juice" (har-har).

Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Okayama, Nagasaki, Kyushu, Shikoku, Hokkaido - everything is all right. Yes, terrible conditions in 4-5 prefectures up north. I am not going to be-little their suffering, but this is actually a large country with 120 million people. We will carry through. This place will be a better place after this.

For some strange reason, in spite of rice supplies being stock-piled, almost all shops have run out of rice in the entire region, and that is clearly due to lack of planning and no sense of logistics. Still after-shocks coming irregularly, but I'm safe and here is Mr Bean to cheer us all up a little bit:


K and S said…
good to hear you are keeping your spirits up. take care.
Pandabonium said…
Oddly enough, those of us who built up an emergency reserve when there was plenty (ants) get accused of "hoarding" when in fact it is those who go out after the emergency strikes to buy up what is available (grasshoppers) who make goods scarce for others.

So this ant has been baking bread and sharing it with friends and relatives and others (like the men who patched our roof today), to show that the ants have no hard feelings for the grasshoppers.

Perhaps with the lights out, city people will once again look up and rediscover the heavens.

We have become spoiled to expect everything to happen for us at the flip of a switch as if by magic.

Humor at such times is good.

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