We had a really strong earthquake today shortly before 5:30 in the afternoon. I had just finished a language lesson with a 6-year old Japanese American girl named Emi and was talking to her Japanese mother about what we had studied when the earthquake began. The windows were rattling and we could feel the building swaying. The classroom where we were has a heavy wooden table and four of us - me, Emi, her mother and her little brother - all got under the table for safety. This is exactly the kind of earthquake safety that Emi practices at her elementary school, but for the children it was still a kind of game. We could hear people in the street outside. It lasted a long time. We were the only ones in the school.
No one has lessons on Friday afternoons, but I was having one with Emi as a make-up for a lesson she missed on Tuesday 4th. It felt more dangerous being alone in the school during a strong earthquake. What if something hapened and no one knew or remembered that we were there? Anyway, the quake finished, Emi and her mother and brother went home, I locked up the school and put the key away in the special key hiding place, then quickly telephoned my wife and daughter while I walked to the local subway station. It was difficult reaching them. The cell phone network was temporarily overloaded with people doing the same thing I was doing - checking in with family members after a strong quake. I got home in 30-minutes and saw the ongoing news reports on television. A tsunami alert was in effect for the Pacific coast and the earthquake was being called a 7.2 magnitude termblor by the Japanese and 7.3 magnitude quake by the Americans, epicentered about 36km under the sea.
Since March 2011 people here are especially cautious about earthquakes and tsunamis, and this particular one was the strongest we've felt in the capital in months. I wonder if it is still an aftershock from the March 11, 2011 mega-quake?