March 11, 2011: At 2:46 PM local Japan time I was sitting in a MacDonald’s in Sangenjaya, only two train stops from Shibuya, a major commercial center of Tokyo. An earthquake began shaking the building. There are earthquakes in Japan from time to time that are strong enough to be felt without doing any damage, but this one was the strongest I have experienced in my life doing damage right before my eyes! It got stronger and stronger to the point that the women in the MacDonald’s started to scream and a few people ducked under the counters to protect themselves. A large picture window close to where I was sitting was shattered to pieces! Glass fell on the street and on the floor of the MacDonald’s, and one piece even landed on the counter where I had my laptop PC. I grabbed the laptop and the rest of my stuff, and went outside and watched as the police brought brooms and swept the broken glass. A police box is just next to that MacDonald’s.
At first I thought the earthquake was local because only the MacDonald’s seemed to have damage, but I hear the main part was the Northeast of Japan, which meant the entire north half of Honshu felt the earthquake.
It was a good time to meet people and talk with them. It seems people are more willing to take time and stand and talk when something big happens that shakes them up!
Thirty minutes later there was an aftershock and more broken glass fell from the window. The police tried to keep the people away from the building, and the MacDonalds closed for business that day. It’s funny but that was the only business that closed from what I could see. Everybody else continued business as normal.
A few hours later in the evening, I heard for the first time how massive the earthquake was, all of northern Japan and especially the Northeast area, an area I sometimes visit.
As I write this post, I can still feel aftershocks from time to time.