Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

This is a photo looking towards the east side of Shinjuku, where there are shops and bars and all kinds of entertainment. The exciting side. The flashy side. The bright side.

That is, until now. 

Due to the earthquake, some of the nuclear reactors were damaged/shutdown and there has been a power shortage throughout eastern Japan. Although Shinjuku is not part of the mandatory blackouts that TEPCO has issued, many businesses have been conserving energy voluntarily.

It's easy to see the difference at night. No neon, no displays. There haven't been many people around at night either because mandatory blackouts also meant no trains running. Some people would have to leave work at 2 p.m. because their trains were only going their way for an hour that afternoon or others would have to wait past 8 p.m. for their trains to run again. It was really hard figuring out the train/subway schedule last week.

But things seem to be a lot more organized this week. The mandatory blackouts still continue and offices and stores are still conserving energy but there haven't been sudden blackout scares like last week (which had all of us rushing back home before the city stalled...only it didn't happen), so I'm hoping this state of calm will continue. 

I have to admit, I do miss the lights. I miss our heating system at work, too. But while TEPCO is doing a whole lot of apologizing these days...I actually want to thank them for giving me a chance to see all the things I took for granted. And until electricity has reached all the areas in the Tohoku region which were devastated by the earthquake/tsunami, I can do without lights and heating systems.

(Shinjuku before energy conservation)


  1. How wonderful that so many are voluntarily conserving...your nation is certainly setting an example of how to pull together to survive such devastation...

  2. Hello, My Friend, I've come to see you again.

    Re the Afghan rest: I know they have vegetarian entrees on the menu. So, next time you cross the pond...

    K, one thing I notice here, prob Japan as well, is how much light/electricity is left on even have a business as closed for the day!! We still waste a tremendous amount of energy.

  3. i'm glad i got to see tokyo before the blackout,
    i miss looking at those lights too. :(
    I was planning my vacation to visit this april,
    then this sad thing happened.
    It's amazing that despite everything, people are still calm and organize, one thing I do admire about Japanese people.

    ps: nice title btw. you remind me of "that" song. ^0^

  4. We take so much for granted! Thanks for sharing Kaori.

  5. What a difference! It is good to see that people behave responsibly.

  6. I wonder where you were standing when you took those photos.

    The nuclear reactor news is encouraging. Nice video on the right. I do hope that the worst of the uncontrolled release of radioactive materials is past. It was said somewhere that the radioactive iodine in Tokyo tap water could dissipate and become harmless in about 8 days, but, from what I understand, cesium is forever. Don’t people take baths and showers in tap water? Starbucks makes their brews with, um, coffee beans and, uh, bottled water? Tap water? I wonder what Tokyo can do if radioactive material in the water is a problem (apart from rushing through laws that make previous inconceivably higher levels simply legal). Someone could make a fortune selling radiation-in-water filters.

    It looks like the so-called water trade is way down. I wonder what yakuza are up to to recoup their losses.

  7. First of all, I LOVE this post's title. And secondly, the difference between the two photos is striking! What a change...and it's sobering how something as simple as an earthquake has such far-reaching consequences. At least it keeps others aware of what's going on elsewhere, outside of their little world, right? We all need reminders like that. Good luck traveling, keeping warm, etc.

  8. I miss the glitzy, glamourous look of the flashy night lights! But, one step at a time....
    Genki de ne, Kaori sama!

  9. A bit more accurate information about contamination by radioactive substances here.

  10. patience, strenght and only the very best of thoughts for you all.

  11. Love this post Kaori. It really shows and tells about the change for those in your city. And I agree, although not fun, at least it's better than the alternative. Your photo below is also great.

  12. Speaking of yakuza:
    “Indeed, one of the first organizations to start relief convoys in the northeast was none other than the yakuza, Japan's famous gangsters. Unconstrained by reams of regulations, the underworld representatives, whose business tentacles extend to the trucking business, simply started delivering aid on their own, without government approval.”

    As found at this page.

  13. A beautiful night scene despite the circumstances. Glad that you are ok.

  14. Hi, Kaori. Checking in. I listen to all the news, PRI, etc., but you're the feet on the ground, for me.

  15. I almost shouted,“Whoopie!” when I read the article titled: “Japan’s Leaked Radiation May Soon Become Harmless” at NPR if you click here. The robot article is interesting also.

    However, mothers in Tokyo with infants should avoid allowing them to imbibe tap water still, even if mixing tap water with formula.

    Hmmm. I should say, “As of this moment.”

  16. Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments! It's really amazing how much energy we consume everyday even without thinking about it. And this experience is giving me a chance to appreciate and to rethink many of those acts :-D

    ...and I'm glad some of you liked the title. One of the songs I like to hum sometimes!

  17. Dear Kaori,

    It is true we take many things for granted.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Love to you and people affected by the earthquake.

  18. Though I understand what you are saying and agree to a certain extent, and though I myself love neons and lights to photograph, part of me still wonders: do we need ALL the lights at night?

  19. What a contrast to the small pic! Sign of sad and hard times...

  20. Its so bad what is happening in Japan =(

    I hope that it all can be good again soon


  21. Your title got me humming with a smile. :-) And I think your attitude towards the inconveniences you all must (and choose to!) suffer is not only stoic, it's admirable.


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