Boring Tokyo: Situation Normal
Update: 2011.03.17. 18:30 Tokyo time. Tokyo still stands. I was contacted by a journalist who expressed surprise that Tokyo was still populated. It seems that foreign media is having a field day with the Apocalypse Now headlines. Well, I’d REALLY appreciate it if you would tweet about this blog. No need to judge or pass opinion, just make people aware that Tokyo, and 99% of Japan, is still a very much functioning society. Thanks!
Update: 2011.03.17. 18:52 Tokyo time. One last burst of feel good news before I go home: the US Navy USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group is now in action delivering supplies to the North West Coast of Japan, by helicopter. I know the US Navy gets a bad rap in many online blogs and journals, but personally, I have never met a sailor I didn’t like! US Navy, Tokyobling salutes you! (see #TOMODACHI on twitter)
Dear All, I have received more than one request for more information on the situation in Tokyo and although I hesitated at first, after seeing what some foreign media are reporting I feel that I need to raise my voice here. Report something.
Trouble is, there is nothing in particular to report here in Tokyo.
Trains are running (reduced services but on time and all lines). We have power (in central Tokyo no blackouts, in the Kanto area, some scheduled minor power cuts to preserve energy). We have water (so much in fact, that I wonder why people bother buying water bottles). We have gas (often independent of electricity).
Shops are open, restaurants are open, fresh produce is being trucked into Tokyo daily and I think that some people hoarding right are going to have a few very dull months of eating a lot of instant ramen accumulated during these last few days. Me? I prefer to bake my own bread and have the utilities to do this no matter what happens in terms of power, gas and water. People are going to work as usual. Libraries are open, clinics and hospitals function without any extraordinary measures. There are trains coming into and out of Tokyo as usual, the air ports are open and incredibly enough, yes, there are still tourists coming into town.
The art galleries and museums are open, taxis run. Subways are as clean and efficient as ever and people are polite and efficient, as we expect from the public.
There is no “exodus”, no one is running away, no one is escaping, fleeing or abandoning anything in Tokyo. Sure, people are scared at times, some people are getting worn down by the tension, but this is caused by fear and irresponsible media much more than any real danger to person or to property.
Media love to speculate and infer and write up the “human experience” but the truth is, if any of them bothered to come to Tokyo they’d be really disappointed. You can hardly see anything on the surface. If you visited Tokyo for the first time or haven’t been here for 10 years, you wouldn’t be able to tell there was something special going on. I have friends in the international community as well as very local people, many of whom have never visited another country, and we all agree that life is going on as well as can be expected.
I deeply regret having to post something as trivial and boring as this. This should not be my job. My job is to bring the “bling” of Tokyo, to show the extra stuff that makes Japan and Tokyo such amazing places. My job is definitely not to write these sorts of post, no photos, no flashy images, no new ideas no fun.
But the truth is, life goes on, and people both inside Japan and outside Japan needs to know that this huge crisis they keep hearing about, just doesn’t exist.
Sure we cry. Every single day, but that doesn’t stop us from anything else. We cry because we are alive and some people we used to love and meet and argue with are not anymore. But this is normal, healthy and expected.
A lot of people are complaining about lack of information and lack of government response, but the truth is the vast silent majority of Japanese and foreigners in Japan (the silent majority so named because we are silent and don’t whine and talk about everything that upsets us a little), trust the government, and trust the brave men and women who are doing their best to restore order to the situation up north. We can’t expect everything, all information to be spoon fed to us. I you believe that is what you want and what you need you need to search on Wikipedia for the expression “information overload”. There are different channels fo r different information, as is fitting.
Sure the events of these last few days will be scrutinized, rules will change, methods will be refined, text books will be updated, some people will come out heroes (look at Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano for a hero that has already been born) and some people will no doubt lose their jobs, their honor and their good standing.
Japan has about 127 000 000 people. About 445 000 of these have been evacuated from three provinces up north. About 250 000 people are actively helping those evacuated. About 20 000 people are dead or missing. Far less than was initially suggested by the doom and gloom sensationalist media (you know who you are). That leaves over 126 000 000 (that’s 126 million people, about 15 Sweden) who are going on with their lives, taking care of each other, and in some cases even, watching anime, shopping for cosmetics, cooking pies, going to the cinema or flirting on twitter. Believe it or not.
Go see for yourself, go to Twitpic and just type in random Japanese words and see what comes up. Most of it perfectly normal and average. Boring, even. Normality, is what we call it. Japan has survived tsunami, earth quakes, pestilence, two world wars, two atomic bombs, typhoons and civil wars and always come out the stronger for it. This time is no difference.
The stock market took a plunge, sure, but it’s going to come back up again. Well, it already is (as far as I could see on the news this morning). The yen is rising, but it wasn’t super strong just before the quake either. Before you stare yourself blind on graphs, take a step back, hit that little button that says 3m or 5y. Get a different perspective and you’ll see how secure, normal, and safe everything really is.
I’m still doing fashion shoots (one must prepare for the summer season), and I’m still booking jobs, planning this spring’s weekend outings to various parts of the country (Saitama look out, I’m on my way to do a tour of your remote mountain shrines this month).
My friends are doing great and we are all supporting each other no matter where we are or what nationality we have or which language we speak in. Oh the wonder of the Internets.
Want to study the tragedy many people are still living through? Sure, just turn on any TV or radio for that. But for the real Japan, ask someone you really trust, on location, to give you are rundown on what they did today. All of it. I’ll bet you a lot of money 99% of the people will tell you this.
I woke up. I took a shower. I checked the news. I had breakfast, I brushed me teeth, I went to work.
And that’s what I call normality. Boring Tokyo. Sorry about that.