Of all of the research I conducted on living in Japan before arriving here, I conveniently overlooked the earthquake chapter in each book. So, one can only imagine the look on my face when the earth began to shake on Do-yoobi (Saturday).
Because all of my classes officially began last week, my professors assigned a lot of reading and weekend homework. So, when my host family asked what my plans for Saturday were I replied, 'benkyoshimasu'- study. My host family told me they were going to the family farm and would return around 4:30-5:00pm. My host mother informed me that she had prepared a lunch for me and it would be on the kitchen table. I thanked her and bid the family farewell for the day. (That was around 10am)
I clean my room-(sweep the tatami mats, organize school papers, and fold clothes) and prepare myself for a couple of hours of intense language study and assigned reading. I pop in my newly purchase Jill Scott 'Live' CD (yes, I found a CD store and purchased it, in addition to Erykah Badu Live.-- shout out to Corey Tripplet of TFA for e-mailing me about her latest CD) and begin to take in the sound of her voice. My mind wonders to the States and I think about my plans when I return. I think about my experiences in Japan so far and my goals for the remainder of my time here. I smile.
I remember on Friday I borrowed a video from the IES Student Center about being African-American in Japan and decide to watch it. (Yep, still a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to studying.. but it's getting better). So, I grab the video, a notebook and pencil, turn off my laptop, and turn off the light in my room (we don't waste energy in the house) and make my way downstairs to watch 'Struggle and Success: The African-American Experience in Japan.' You guys, the video was great. In fact, so great that I have to devote an entire post to it :). Anyway, after watching the video I feel inspired, full of energy, and informed. I eat lunch, which included cucumber and tomato slices, sticky rice wrapped in seaweed with ume (really sour fruit) in the middle, some nuts that you eat with a small spoon that kind of taste like a baked potato, applie slices, grapes, and ocha (Japanese tea). ---(that's why I haven't posted what I eat because I always forget the names-- a food post is in the works). It was good :), a sista doesn't miss a meal here (laughing).
After lunch I wash my lunch dishes, dry them, put them away, and make my way back upstairs to 'begin' my homework. I pop in the Jill Scott CD again (it's about 1230pm) and take out my Japanese Language worksheets. I sort through my worksheets, designating the ones I will get my host family to assist me with and the ones I will complete on my own, and begin to work. During Jill Scotts's 'Long Walk' it happened...
The room, house, everything began to shake. I look out of the window to see if the houses around me are shaking but it is hard to tell. I look around the room in disbelief... Is the earth shaking or is the wind just rough outside (we have had ugly weather here for about a day or so- shout out to my DC friends who made it through Isabel). I say to myself, "Takara, this is an earthquake" and (laughing now) I stood in the middle of my room and turned around in a complete circle looking confused. I think, I should go downstairs to the bathroom (confusing the Tornado protocal of Alabama with the earthquake protocal- doorway?) (laughing!!!). Just as I complete that thought, it stops. I instantly pick up my cellphone and call one of the other sistas in Tokyo who's a student at Penn State.
Me: "Girl, did you feel that?
'Nanki': "Oh Sh@t! That was an earthquake!"
Me: "What! I know, I was turning around in circles over here, my host family is gone."
Nanki: "Man... I'm trippin'"
Me: "Man, me too!"
Nanki: "You know they say Japan has several earthquakes monthly."
Me: "Who says that?"
Nanki: "Everyone. Japan has a lot of little earthquakes each month Kara. You didn't know that?"
Me: "I sure didn't... Nanki I looked really crazy over here. The only thing I could think of was to call and hear a familiar voice who spoke English (laughing)."
Nanki: (laughing) "Now that's funny. If my host mother wasn't here I would have panicked myself."
Me: (sigh) "Okay, I have to monitor my cellphone minutes so I'll talk to you later." (Yes, even in Japan)
Nanki: "Okay girl, bye. Oh yeah, we should go somewhere tonight?"
Me: "Okay, I'll c-mail you later (c-mail= free text messaging between phones)."
Nanki: "Okay, bye."
I study and take a really long nap. When my host family returns I greet them at the door and ask them if they'd felt an earthquake earlier. They didn't know what I was talking about, so I make hand gestures and finally go upstairs to fetch my dictionary to look up the Japanese word. I return with my dictionary and show them the word. They look and shake their heads in agreement. Then they ask, "Your first earthquake?" I say yes and they say, "In Japan, we have many earthquake, no worry." I smile and demonstrate how afraid I was. We all laugh and I sit at the kitchen table to talk my host mother while she prepares dinner and my host father reads the newspaper and smokes a cigarette. My little host sister and brother play in the living room. I think to myself, I like Japan... Even though I didn't have a clue about earthquakes :)
More to come... Takara