Perceptions from Japan.
WHEN the earthquake struck, I was at the hot springs in Sakunami, about 15 miles from my home in Sendai. I was playing host to a couple from Britain, and as I soaked in an open-air bath with Ben, the husband, powdery snow began to shake off the surrounding boulders. The next moment, small pieces of broken stone came tumbling down.
“It’s an earthquake, a big one,” I said, urging Ben on to the changing room next door. Without bothering to dry off, I pulled on my bathrobe. As I struggled to keep my legs from buckling and tied my sash with trembling hands, I was struck by the terrifying realization that the great earthquake off Miyagi Prefecture, predicted for so long, had at last arrived.
The fierce rolling of the earth lasted longer than I had ever experienced. As I learned later, this was not just the predicted earthquake. It was a giant quake in the waters off Miyagi; off the Sanriku coast in Iwate Prefecture to the north; off Fukushima Prefecture to the south. It lasted six minutes.