So far, for the record, the biggest Earthquake I have ever experienced was on March 11, 2011. It happened just as I was teaching one of my students, Akari. And it was huge! I kind of wish I had grabbed my camera and started filming as the light pole across the street from the English school I work at was shaking back and forth like a giant had grabbed it and was shaking it at high speed with his hand. I didn't know quakes could do that at that speed. It was really Hollywoodish. But, it was real. For us, we were just feeling the shock waves hundreds of miles from the epicenter in the Pacific Ocean on the other side of Japan. This quake was also the longest in my life lasting almost 2 hours. This was easy for us to determine because the strings on our shades and one of the doors kept moving in unison during that whole time. And believe it or not, they still expect a bigger one to hit Tokyo someday. Worst still, if Fuju erupts someday... it could go like Vesvius.
SOME PRIOR QUAKE REPORTS:
Saturday, October 22, 6:0? PM We had a Big Earthquake... and then another one,.... and then another one... and more... I lost count after number 10,... These were the most powerful I ever felt. And WOW! Some of them were ROCKING Niigata for 2 minutes or more. I was teaching during a number of them so my students and I did the duck and cover thing. The last one I noticed happened around midnight while my wife and I were watching Bill & Ted`s Bogus Adventure on video. Some of my friends say we had a few this morning too. - Sunday, Oct. 23rd.
Some people died and a number of houses in the prefecture have been badly damaged or completely destroyed. Shinkansen (the bullet train) was derailed and is still off the tracks. Over 800 people have been injured. -Sunday, Oct. 23rd.
For those of you who've never experienced a quake, don't worry. They aren't that bad and they aren't that often. Usually very few people die or get hurt in them.
If there is a quake while you're here, immediately get away from any windows. It is best to get under a strong sturdy table right away or to possibly stand in a safe door way. Protect your head and face.
Afterwards, turn off all gas outlets (following the Kobe Earthquake the 'authorities' didn't turn off the gas until days later and most of the deaths from the Kobe Earthquake happened because of the fires that started as a result of that inaction).
Niigata experienced its worst Earthquake (7.5 magnitude) on June 16, 1964. The Earthquake caused a number of buildings to fall sideways, fires at the oil refinery, destruction of Niigata’s Showa bridge, and flooding. In all, 24 people died.
Keep in mind cigarettes lead to more deaths in one year than earthquakes. And car crashes claim more lives every year than earthquakes do, too. I personally have never known anyone who has died in an earthquake. But, I have had family members killed in car accidents and due to disease from smoking.
10 tips on restaurants in Japan
1) Don't tip the waiters or waitresses.
2) The staff in cheap restaurants don't work very hard. Be patient. (See above)
3) The staff in cheap restaurants don't know what's in the food, how to make it, or what the special sauce is. Be patient as they try to go find out and will take a few minutes. (See #1)
4) The staff in cheap restaurants are not customer friendly when it comes to substituting something on the menu (i.e. a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of macha ice cream). You'll be told that it is muri (impossible). (See #1)
5) Staff obliviously may put you next to smokers or put smokers next to you even if you have previously stated that you don't want to sit by any. (See #1)
6) Surprisingly, many restaurants that have it, don't know that red wine is served at room temperature. (See #1)
7) Many restaurants don't provide unlimited refills on drinks. You have to pay for every drink order. (Although, drink bars are becoming more common now.)
8) Some pubs and bars will try to sit foreign men away from the Japanese ladies (so that the native men have a better chance I guess, to put it nicely.) (See #1)
9) If you find a cockroach in your proximity, in your food, or on your table, you're still likely to have to pay for the full cost of the meal no matter how pissed off you are. (See #1)
10) On average, comparatively speaking, Japanese portions are much smaller but more expensive than American ones. (You pay more for less.)
Be careful while you eat Mochi
Mochi is a usually eaten in the winter season in Niigata. It's packed rice usually served
in the shape of a square. It's heated and often served with a powdery brownish bean like substance that tastes like peanut butter or it's covered with a dark brown sauce.
Although mochi tastes good, it can be dangerous. Every year a number of people (usually elderly) die from eating mochi as it gets stuck in their throats. If you don't chew it carefully and well it may go down the wrong way.
Be careful when using a crosswalk.
Maybe it's Niigata... or maybe it's Japan.
But, from my experience most drivers do not stop when you're trying to cross the road using the crosswalk. In fact, I've had experiences where the drivers speed up and try to go around you.
Drivers in Niigata do not drive courteously.
If you do get hit... you'll win in court unless that is the driver has already driven away.
Nato - Not for me (but it might be for you)
I usually work on the baseball principle. If I try it 3 times and I still don't like it,... I give up.
I first heard of this 'unusual food' when my host father was trying to explain it to me some 22 years ago. Being that we were in Fukuoka, he claimed that he and many others didn't understand why so many people in the other area of Japan could love it so much. And it's true. Despite that, as one of my Japanese student's once described it, and I quote, "It smells like my father's feet.", so many Japanese people here in Niigata love it. To be fair, not all do. Some of my students say they hate it. But, most love it.
If you try nato by accident... as this sometimes happens... you know, you buy some suishi from the store and you think, "Hmmm... what's this?" "Looks like beans of some sort." Well, the moment you chomp down on it... you could have a thinking-in-your-mind experience like "Oh my God! I just bit down on a piece of garbage... this stuff is rotten!!" Well, that's nato. For all of you nato-lovers out there I do not intend to offend. Forget not, even Japanese could say in Japanese, "You stink of nato (nato kusai)". In English we would probably say "nato breath"... like we do "garlic breath". But, garlic isn't so bad... comparitely... (in my humble opinion).
Nato is, apparently, really good for you. I imagine it may be. Usually, Japanese put nato on rice and mix it in with onions and soy sauce or something else.
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Lock up your bikes & keep your umbrellas with you.
Japan is a relatively safe place but bicycles are commonly stolen here.
If you value your bike then lock it up good. In fact, I have two kryptonite locks for my own mountain bike. I tend to lock up my bike to something in which someone will need to commit property damage as well if they intend to steal my bike. Fortunately, most criminals don't have a blow torch or chain saw so readily available.
Many of my students and a number of foreigners I know have had their bikes stolen. One of them, parked his bike at a 7-11, went in just to buy a bottle of water, came out, and found his 80,000 yen bike gone in less than a minute.
Key point: He didn't lock it up. His loss can
be a lesson for others.
When traveling with an umbrella you're better off keeping it with you. An umbrella left in an open can or container is likely to be stolen.
Check out this guy`s personal experience as a bike thief below:
Ride Your bicycle defensively
Wear a helmit.
Ride your bicycle defensively.
Keep an eye out for drivers who often don't pay attention.
You're better off riding a bike around Niigata Island than through the city.
I know a number of people who've been hit by cars.
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