Foxes, parliament… and an earthquake

Let’s start with the earthquake. It’s ironic that this Brit’s first earthquake of note wasn’t in San Francisco but rather in Tokyo. Any Bay Area readers may yawn their way through this bit…but it was my first proper earthquake. Hopefully my last, to be honest.

The Husband was in China, it was me and the Dude and we were playing before dinner last night when I suddenly realised everything was shaking. The Dude was playing in his bed which is handily tucked into a big wardrobe so I dashed over, leaned into the wardrobe with him and held him tight until the shaking stopped. It apparently was a 5 here (a 7.3 at the epicenter) and it felt significant. The Husband’s shirts, hanging above us, waved around for over a minute. After that, I was straight on Facebook and email to let everyone know we were okay. I was very grateful for the internet at that moment, especially as I can’t understand the TV here. My legs felt shaky for a long time and I got warm clothes, some snacks and some water ready at the front door in case anything happened at night. I have never felt so responsible for my son ever before. It was scary. I was also very glad for my faith, I did a lot of praying that night.

Ironically, I photographed my building’s earthquake alarm as we walked in this evening. It didn’t work.

But anyway…morning is here, we are all fine and because I haven’t forgotten this is a running blog…we went for a run yesterday. Just a short one – three little miles – but with the Dude in the stroller. I am very grateful for this blog at the moment, it’s motivating me to run when I am lacking motivation. Stroller runs, time after time, are hard work, so thank you, any reader out there, for making me get out and run. We ran round Ueno Park and its neighbouring streets. The streets are a little tricky as pavements/sidewalks tend to disappear at any given moment, but I managed not to kill my passenger and we ended (as ever) at a park to say thank you!

Sweet little temple on my route this morning
I love this reflection from the playground

We had spent a LONG time walking yesterday. We’d got off the subway at Akasaka (alas not pronounced Akka-sakka but A-KAS-aka) because there’s a palace and a park there. I’d heard the park is popular for runners. But the palace was enclosed within stone walls and the running path (basically the pavement) seems to go round the outside of the park along busy roads so I don’t quite get it! We did find a fascinating temple next to it, full of statues of foxes.

Anyone fancy running between the wall and the hedge?
Me neither, really!
Fox statues at the Toyowara Inari Temple
Entrance to the temple proper

From there we walked for what seems like an hour to get to the Parliament building, the National Diet Building where we went on a free tour. It was highly entertaining. Tours are only in Japanese and the place was full of schoolkids and older people. So one British girl and a three year old caused quite a stir. I was very touched at how hard the non-English speaking guards and guides worked to help me sign in, leave my buggy and join the tour. They were wonderful. The Dude and I were escorted to the front of the tour past all the people (this felt awkward for a Brit) and then we followed our unsmiling guide along various corridors and chambers whilst he explained it all in Japanese. No photos allowed, unfortunately. And then somehow we seemed to be ejected onto the street with no ceremony at all and the tour was over. But I’m not sure it WAS over. I think the Dude and I may have somehow escaped from Alcatraz  the Diet Building.

The Diet Building
No photos allowed inside.

An observation: we are surprised at how little English is spoken in Tokyo. I am NOT one of those people who want English spoken wherever I go – I speak three languages and a bit of a fourth, and am nifty with a phrasebook. However I expected the Japanese to be good at English, given how well travelled they are and the amount of business they do in Anglophone countries. But no – they speak little English on the whole. Always better than my Japanese, but it’s been a surprise to me. Luckily, they find me and my phrasebook highly entertaining so it’s been a lot of fun for us all.

So, from this shaky shaking girl…be safe! Let’s end on a high note…check out this fire safety poster. I’ll make it big for you.  You’re welcome, ladies.

Smouldering, eh?

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Jen says:

    Glad you’re OK and that the earthquake wasn’t any bigger!

    Yeah, I was also surprised about the lack of English spoken in Japan. My theory is that they *do* speak it, but are too ashamed/embarrassed to speak to a native English speaker. It’s the complete opposite of other countries where people are so excited to practice their English with you!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I agree…it’s the losing face thing. Which is a shame because it’s hard to get to know people! Vicious circle!

  2. oh gosh, i’m happy that u are all safe and sound, and hey, i did grow up in the bay area and no matter the size of a quake, those things are freaky as heck!! i hope that first one is ur last as well!!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Me too, thanks!!!

  3. Bean says:

    Earthquake- that is terrifying. Glad you all are okay. Of course it would happen when the hubby is away. That always seems to be the case. I am very impressed with all the running you have been doing. I have a hard time being motivated over a long holiday weekend. You rock at travel running!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I’m struggling to be motivated too, to be honest. The blog is a great motivator!! But once I get out, it’s such a great way of exploring!!! And yep…ugh about the earthquake. But it’s all quiet now. So much safer 😉

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