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Quake? What quake?

Apparently we had a largish earthquake at 4:05 this afternoon... anyone?

I think I was sat in Benugo in Ebisu Garden Place around then, but didn't notice anything wobble. Mind you, I was probably tucking into my sandwich a bit too ravenously. I'm not supposed to eat for two hours before my yoga class, which means breakfast, if it were to happen at all, would have to be before 11:30am - hah! Like I'm going to get out of bed before midday on a Sunday for "breakfast". Hence the first meal of the day at 4pm.

Anyway, let me take this opportunity to tell you about the excellent earthquake page at Tenki (天気) is Japanese for "weather", and while I think you'd be hard-pressed to classify earthquakes as strictly meteorological events, I'm not going to argue with this very groovy little tool.

Use the drop-down menu just above and to the right of the main map image to navigate back through previous earthquakes; they redesigned recently and the new interface is definitely an improvement. The previous version listed not the earthquakes themselves but rather all the earthquake reports... so a single quake could be listed a dozen times as various different reporting stations around the country called in their data. Muy confusing.

Dots on the map represent the severity of the quake according to the Japanese seismic intensity scale, which ranges from 1 (Mild Flatulence) to 7 (Godzilla grabs rucksack of bottled water and Calorie Mate and makes beeline for nearest sturdy doorframe).

This is not to be confused with the Richter Scale, which measures magnitude (マグニチュード in the info table) and not intensity. The difference, if I remember correctly, is that the magnitude of a quake is a measure of the amount of energy released, full stop. So a magnitude 5 quake is a magnitude 5 quake is a magnitude 5 quake, no matter where you measure it from. The Japanese scale (shindo) is a measure of how strongly the quake is felt at the place where the measurement is taken. So a magnitude 5.1 quake (Richter scale) in Ibaraki might be a shindo 4 near the epicenter, a shindo 3 in Tokyo, shindo 2 in Yokohama, but a shindo 0 if you're sitting on a high stool in Ebisu, greedily wolfing down a gourmet sandwich.

By the way, I love the haiku-esque nature of the JMA scale explanations:

5+: In many cases, unreinforced concrete-block walls collapse and tombstones overturn. Many automobiles stop due to difficulty in driving. Occasionally, poorly installed vending machines fall.
The neglected parking meter beeps;
Odaiba slides into Tokyo Bay;
Melancholy tremblor.

Posted by chris at October 16, 2005 11:57 PM | Permalink


Yup, definitely a 4 just north of Tokyo on the 7th floor. More of a jolt than the usual longer, drawn out tremblors that seem to have been more common recently. Certainly had me picking up the baby and scurrying for a door frame.

Posted by: tokyobogue at October 17, 2005 10:18 AM

That may be the most beautiful description I have ever heard.

Posted by: Rob at October 28, 2005 08:15 PM

Thank you. I'm available for script polishing, too.

Posted by: chris at October 29, 2005 03:16 AM

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