Rugby World Cup diary: Our man in Japan recounts the night an earthquake shook Bok town
At least the Springboks were not forced to flee their hotel in their pyjamas
Omaezaki — They say Springbok tours are no longer rock ’n roll — but there are apparently exceptions.
It has been decades since I’ve been woken by that helpless feeling. The one when the room seems to be spinning about you. That is when you say you're never drinking alcohol again and hope for the amusement park swing to come to a halt.
But the feeling I had in the early hours had a twist. At first it felt as if someone was shaking my bed. I quickly realised the whole building was shaking. Then it hit me: this was an earthquake.
The shaking at 2.15am was not violent. It was a side-to-side sway. But still deeply disconcerting.
However, the hotel I’m in didn’t issue an evacuation order so presumably the shaking was more in the ballpark of tremor than earthquake. So I returned my head to the pillow, figuring it would rock me to sleep. Sometimes it is pointless stressing.
Five kilometres away‚ the quake was felt at the Springboks’ hillside hotel where the carpets are as thick as the corridors are wide. All was fine there. No dropping chandeliers. It would have been an odd sight seeing the Bok bus pull up with its occupants in their pyjamas.
Media colleagues who opted for a hotel 1km inland have a designated assembly area should disaster strike in the town on the Pacific coast 230km southwest of Tokyo.
There have been five seismic events in Japan since the start of October. Hotels in the country are equipped with all measure of emergency and evacuation procedures.
Shizuoka Prefecture, in which Omaezaki is located, has gentle hills and valleys, but holds terror at its core. The prefecture is in an earthquake zone. The bit that should have concerned me if the epicentre was offshore was the location of the adjacent Hamaoka nuclear power plant.
So prone is the area to quakes that former prime minister Naoto Kan ordered the shutdown of the facility in 2011. The government did not want a repeat of what happened in Fukushima where an earthquake and resultant tsunami devastated the area in 2011.
The area lies on two tectonic plates and scientists say there is an 87% likelihood of it being hit by a magnitude 8 earthquake in the next 30 years.
News surfaced later in the morning that the quake registered 4.1 on the Richter scale. Not big‚ but big enough to make you quake in your boots.