Three months have passed since the devastating earthquake and tsunami took place on March 11th in the Tohoku region of northern Japan. I haven't written any updates here on the situation for awhile, because for the most part very little has changed. The situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is not yet resolved, and in the worst tsunami-affected areas, the recovery effort will take a long time, but here in Tokyo things are mostly back to normal.
There is always the possibility of a big earthquake hitting Tokyo in the near future, but the main concern for us now is the continuing power shortage, especially as the weather continues to get warmer. We're in the middle of rainy season now so the humidity continues to climb, seemingly on a daily basis, making it feel hotter than it actually is. Every business and household has been encouraged to decrease their electricity consumption by 15% from last year. Otherwise, there simply won't be enough power to cope with the extremely hot summer days in July and August. So we're being more careful about turning off lights and unplugging appliances we're not using. And every time I leave the house I make sure to leave extra food and water for the cats, in case we can't get home right away. But other than that, our daily lives have returned pretty much to how they were before the earthquake.
One important thing this experience did though was make me realize that we really weren't very prepared for a major earthquake. It made me re-do our earthquake kit, and I've tried to prepare for different situations such as having to leave quickly, or bunkering down at home, by having bags packed and a stock of bottled water and other essentials on hand all the time. I'm not sure we're really ready even now, but then can you ever be truly prepared for something of that scale? The one thing I haven't quite figured out yet is which book to take. In the event that we do have to leave quickly, I have a small bag ready to go, but which one book should I pack in it?
If we were to end up stuck in an evacuation shelter for weeks or months, like the survivors of the recent disaster, surely I would need something to read to take my mind off things. Of course it would be nice to just take my e-reader, as there are plenty of books on it to keep me going for a while. But if there is no electricity or no way to charge it, it would only last for so long. So, that leaves a specially chosen paper book. Do I take a well-loved classic? Or maybe a favourite Murakami novel? A suspense thriller might be fun and distracting but would probably be over too soon, and would I want to re-read it? Non-fiction? Humour? Short stories? Which would be best?
At the moment I'm leaning towards Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Do you think it's a good choice?
What would your one book be?
P.S. I updated the Haruki Murakami Challenge blog today with a post listing some Japan earthquake aid anthologies, including a new one I just heard about recently. Check them out. It's a nice way to help Japan get back on its feet. One book, one story, at a time.
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