Tokyo Update 15/3/11

*This update is mainly for friends outside Japan – apologies to followers of the blog in Japan – nothing new here*

If you don’t switch on the TV and turn off your twitter client, Tokyo seems almost normal, people cleaning the streets, kids playing and people going to work.
Look a little closer though and the oddities start to become clear, shelves empty of bread, milk & eggs, an unusally small amount of traffic on the roads, many business’s closed (including my office), queues at petrol stations and a marked increase in the number of people wearing paper face masks.
The normality becomes even more strained at rush hour times, buses crammed to capacity and trains bursting at the seams, thousands of people queueing and many more walking home.

For most of us here though it is impossible to keep the TV off and the twitter client closed.
When you open up those cans of worms the situation gets a lot more worrying.

A third explosion and a fire(now out) at the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant this morning, leading to an extended 30km danger zone around it, people less than 20km away being ordered to evacuate, and the rest being told to stay inside with windows closed.
After Fridays quake and the devastating tsunami that followed it (which didn’t affect us directly at all here –  but the harrowing pictures are obviously affecting everyone, we have one extended family member stranded at a shelter in Sendai) the most worrying thing for us here in Tokyo now is radiation from the plant reaching us.(there was a spike in levels here today caused people think by the fire at no.4 reactor – it’s back to normal background levels again now)

Those in the north of Japan have far more immediate problems to deal with and our thoughts are with them.

Many friends and colleagues have left Tokyo already heading south or overseas away from the possible radiation leaks.

It’s hard not to be nervous.

If you want up to the minute news follow me on twitter @uchujinphoto

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