Being back in Tokyo after spending a week in Osaka is great but things are a little off kilter to say the least.
With concerns mounting over radiation in the water supply, a lack of frequent or informative news on the situation at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima and a run on basic food stuffs and amenities at central Tokyo supermarkets and convenience stores the city looks and feels very different.
Although a cycle around Shibuya and Shinjuku showed people continuing with day to day tasks, signs of the impact the earthquake has had on the city are conspicuous.
Energy conservation measures are still in full swing as businesses and homes cooperate with the government to minimize electricity usage. Shibuya’s legendary crossing is busy as usual but quieter than it has ever been in years.
Likewise giant screens wrapped around the side of an electronics store in Shinjuku are black.
Trains are running on shaved down schedules and using as little electricity as possible while still remaining in service.
Deliveries to supermarkets and convenience stores are also being limited by the government to conserve fuel for relief efforts up North and the empty shelves are a result of this factor, not a lack of supplies in general, so although visually alarming it just means that it takes longer to replenish certain goods than usual. Normally a typical convenience store in Tokyo will receive up to three separate goods deliveries or more per day so the gaps you see in these pics hardly ever appear for more than a few hours under normal circumstances.
As you can see in the following picture shelves are beginning to fill up with goods again.
Some less than others.
Bottled water is hard to come by now that traces of iodine radiation have been found in Tokyo’s water supply. Unless you arrive in time to get a few bottles when they are delivered this is the sight that greets you – some stores are now limiting sales to two bottles per person and the government has been supplying water to families with children under the age of two.
As you can see life goes on as usual here, for now.
Of course there is concern about the continuing situation at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima and it’s long term impact on life in Tokyo (and neighboring prefectures) but in general everyone seems to be adjusting to the disruptions and taking the situation in their stride – in true Japanese style.