In this extract from his live blog, Time Out Tokyo editor Jon Wilks shares his account of the terrifying day that shook Japan:
The first shaking started about 30 minutes ago. It still hasn’t stopped. I’m writing this from the Time Out office, a ground floor room at the base of a relatively new building. Across the road there’s a tenement block. It’s swaying horrifically – so much so, in fact, that it looks like a miniature. I can’t quite compute seeing a building doing that. As I write, I can’t get through to anyone. Nothing in the immediate vicinity has collapsed, but we’re unable to get direct news from our friends and families – all the phones are down. The streets are full of people. What sound like air raid sirens are going off across the city. The Tokyo folk in my office, born and raised in this city, say they’ve never felt anything like this before.
This building is still on the move. Books, computers, coffee cups – none of them are where they should be. Our friends have sent in photos of an entire library emptied across the floor. We’re hearing now that Narita Airport has closed. We’re hearing it on an old radio. It feels like I’m listening to a war report.
The rumblings have now stopped. Amazing that they really were rumblings – you could hear the second big earthquake growling before the tables started moving. Two quakes appear to have hit Japan simultaneously – Miyagi Prefecture and then Ibaraki. Warnings of a 32ft tsunami are doing the rounds. Getting anywhere in Tokyo by public transport this evening is not going to be easy.
Aftershocks are still keeping us on edge, but our accountant has just turned up, which suggests that Tokyo life is already getting back to normal. Phones are still down and bus is the only form of transportation. Awful scenes from the north, though, with farms, trucks, ships, homes, all washed out to sea. No death toll announced yet, but the mood here is sombre.
It has been a tiring afternoon, but the camaraderie in this city is palpable. Loads of businesses and companies offering shelter to the stranded folk who can’t get home. We’ve tried our best to provide a list of everything people might need to get through the evening in the capital, but we can only wish we were able to help the folk up north.
We’re told that more than 40 earthquakes have been reported today in Japan alone, all over a magnitude of 6. Listening to the radio announcements – people trying to get in touch with loved ones. Awful to hear. Feeling awfully useless sitting here.
As the day approaches midnight, we’re starting to see the Pacific coast of the country light up red on the NHK tsunami maps. The damage is not yet known, but it looks like a country under attack. From the north, Miyagi Prefecture, we’re seeing raging fires spreading out of control. No rest for Tokyo tonight. The aftershocks are long and worrying.
Yet another large aftershock slams into Tokyo. My colleague, born and raised in the capital, tells me, ‘We had earthquake training at school when we were kids, but I was too scared to use it today. I thought I was used to earthquakes.’ Doesn’t this last sentence speak volumes?
How you can help
There are several online initiatives that have been set up to help victims of the disaster, and are accepting donations
Association of Medical Doctors in Asia
AMDA has been busy delivering mobile clinic services and relief goods to nursing homes and school shelters in affected areas, and has focused part of its efforts on combating a possible spread of the common cold, which is now a problem in enclosed areas.
Google Crisis Response
Google has set up a portal that allows you to help multiple relief funds from the same page, using the Google Checkout system. The page also has many streams of news and resources on the situation and efforts.
International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies
The Japanese Red Cross were one of the first groups that rushed to the scence, and they have a live feed on Twitter for people who want real-time updates on the aid and the situation. Find it at
The Nippon Foundation
Established as a non-profit philanthropic organisation that works to bolster the domestic development of Japan; it has now redirected its efforts towards accumulating a relief fund. The foundation has experience in providing support after disasters, including the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.
Save the Children
As many as 100,000 children may have been displaced after the earthquake, and Save the Children has a team in Sendai, one of the hardest-hit areas. They have already found and assisted many children. The organisation has also established the first child-friendly space in Japan, where children can gather under the supervision of trained adults.