Coming on the heels of the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake, yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the largest quake I have felt outside of California. Daniel and I were just beginning our second trip to Japan in 2004 and had just gotten back to the hotel after running some errands. We went to an Internet Cafe so I could arrange to meet a colleague at Tokyo Disneyland the following week. Also we made a return visit to one of our favorite Tokyo places – Daiba where we got to take a ride in a driver-less car (way before Google did it!) at the Toyota MegaWeb as well as walk around the shopping areas, the farmers market, and the other misc buildings in the area.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were debating what to do that night. Daniel wanted to go out and explore and I was jet-lagged and was thinking we should stay in for the night. As I went into the bathroom the whole building shook strongly. We were both surprised how strong it felt, and we immediately felt another large aftershock. We went downstairs just to be safe and the guy behind the check in counter at the Hotel Kazusaya was unimpressed and probably thought we were nuts.
Heading back upstairs we watched the TV and discovered the origin of the quake in Niigata prefecture which was 120 miles away. They kept showing the same CCTV footage of a guy getting scared and had some English information on NHK. To prevent panic back home, we both called our parents to let them know we were OK. Daniel’s mom was up and at work while I woke my mom up in the middle of the night.
The rest of our Tokyo time was marked by several large aftershocks. When we visited the Tokyo Disney Resort the following week we heard about how quakes affected the Resort. Thankfully we did not have any larger aftershocks during our stay at the Resort and the rest of the trip was normal.
The third largest quake I ever felt, and it still sticks with me today. Especially the story of Minagawa family and of course the movie A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies.