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In Which We Report On Being Hammered By Typhoon Hagibis In Tokyo

This is from the most awesome weather watch site on the net, windy.com. That’s Typhoon Hagibis (am I the only one who keeps wanting to call it Typhoon Haggis?) approaching Tokyo with a vengeance

FRIDAY

Pre-typhoon festivities:

At Meidi-ya (the swanky “Japanese” supermarket): Lines fifteen deep with bulging baskets as every Japanese person in my neighborhood panic-buys foods that still qualify as gourmet without cooking or refrigeration.

Meanwhile, at National Azabu (the “foreign foods” supermarket): Business as usual (except with rather more wine bottles in the baskets ahead of me), as foreign residents shrug “typhoon, schmyfoon.”

We’ll see who looks like fools tomorrow.

Later: Had to return to National on account of being peer-pressured into buying candles and a lighter. Produce section was stripped bare, except for cartons of cut pineapple and expensive organic carrots. Meat section was likewise empty, save for a few lonely lunchmeat packets. Wine aisle seriously depleted.

First world typhoon problem: The only candles I could find are so aggressively scented that I’m praying I never have to light them because they’re already stinking up my room.

SATURDAY

08:31: Right after I took this video, the garbage truck wheeled up and whisked away the trash. Nevermind the biggest typhoon in sixty years bearing down on the city, IT’S TRASH DAY. Japan may have its flaws, but shirking on the garbage collection just because of a little Category Five cyclone ain’t one of them.

09:22: Big Brother admonishes us about the storm. 

The loudspeakers that are usually only employed to broadcast my neighborhood’s time-to-go-home-for-dinner tune are now blaring warnings about the typhoon. You know, in case you’ve been in a sensory deprivation tank for the past week and didn’t sense that’s what these buckets of rain are all about #Hagibis #yourtaxesatwork

10:57: Everything’s closed? It sounded like the rain was letting up a bit, so I ventured outside to stave off cabin fever. What I found out: The typhoon gods live for those moments when they can lure you outside and show you the real meaning of the word “deluge.”

Plus, I got soaked for nothing, because everything was closed. Shops, banks, both supermarkets, even the…

A true sign of the apocalypse

When even the coffee chain from the city that wrote the book on “you call this rain?” is locked and sandbagged, you know that some serious weather is coming your way.

But wait! A beacon in the darkness. The convenience stores are open!

Through rain, through sleet, through dark of night…

Alas. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

Inside, they all pretty much look like this

Tea, coffee and ice cream are apparently not the comfort foods people turn to in a crisis in Japan. They’d done serious damage to the granola bars, heat ‘n eat lunches, and canned cocktails, though.

On the way home, the first victim.

Patient Zero. By this time tomorrow, it will be an epidemic. They’ll have to bring out the special trucks that go around after typhoons, picking them up

11:37: They’ve switched to a female voice for the blaring disaster warning

Which is somehow scarier than when the man does his Captain Obvious thing about staying inside when the typhoon really hits. In case you’re a typhoon virgin, I’ll tell you that this rain is just the warm-up band. It’s the high winds that are supposed to arrive when the cyclone makes landfall tonight that everyone is saving their glowsticks for. Conservative estimates are for 158 kph/98mph windspeeds, so get ready to rock. Also, yikes, is this serious? 800mm of rainfall before Sunday?

That’s like, 31.5 inches! More than California gets in a YEAR

15:14: No surprise, looks like most subway lines are stopped or busing people between sections in danger of flooding or other hazards

Mine is still running, but glowing with discouraging red sections
Naturally, I had to whip over and check the page for the Oedo Line, which is the subway line everyone shudders and says “I wouldn’t ride that line during a typhoon” because it’s so deep underground. If the train got stopped for any reason, climbing to the surface would be like attempting to extricate yourself from the orc pits of Mordor. (And yes, SUSPENDED)

17:02: Phone scares the pants off me with loud bing-bonging government warning that the Tamagawa river is in danger of flooding (so get the hell out of there if you live nearby). Which I don’t. Whew. Back to the Netflix.

17:58: Am getting “are you OK?” messages from far & wide, and realized it’s because the weather maps make it look like Tokyo is about to be picked up, spun around, and dropped back down on the Wicked Witch of the West

This satellite photo from the Japan Meteorological Agency, for example, screams “hurricane,” but…
…look at the size of this mother!

That’s no Wizard of Oz funnel cloud. This storm is 1400 km/879 miles across. Which means that while it feels like a hell of a rainstorm, it doesn’t have that twister thing going – more like strong winds coming from one direction as it slowly passes over, then the other direction as it moves on.

18:24: The heavens open, the earth moves. I’m sorry, but we’re in the middle of a typhoon here. There ought to be a law that earthquakes be rescheduled for another day.

19:00: The typhoon just made landfall on the Izu peninsula. Two hours until it arrives on my doorstep in Tokyo.

21:38: I’m h-e-e-e-e-re The typhoon has landed in Tokyo, and trees are flapping around, sheets of rain blasting the nearby rooftops, windows rattling. But those of us who aren’t near any rivers bursting their banks, palm trees bent over backwards or trucks skidding along on their sides will have to send you back out to the Twitterverse and the YouTube to see the worst. Fortunately, most of us are safe and sound, have power, and wine. Lots of wine.

I’m going to keep updating this as the typhoon blows through, and take a look at the full rivers and such tomorrow, so if you’re interested, check back!And if this is your first time landing here, look around, make yourself at home, and if you like what you see, subscribe. You’ll get all the astounding, thought-provoking, conversation-starting Japan swaglets delivered the minute I post them.

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

10 thoughts on “In Which We Report On Being Hammered By Typhoon Hagibis In Tokyo Leave a comment

  1. Shared with my friend Bill who has a house in Tokyo (not sure what neighborhood) and is hoping it’s okay. Windy.com is so pretty.

    • I checked our Tokyo house cameras from California and things “look” ok. I don’t think we’re in a floodplain per se. The Ayase and Arakawa rivers are nearby but flow directly to the ocean so probably not a problem. We’re still concerned though.

      • I was over at the Tama river today (I know, it’s a different river, but I’m guessing that the flood engineering is pretty standard throughout Tokyo), and it looked like the only residential places that got flooded were basement level apartments on the street that was hard up against the riverbank. The river did fill its entire historical riverbed (meaning all those nice soccer fields and baseball diamonds on the flood plain are covered in river mud now) but there was hardly any incursion past the flood barriers. Hope your house is totally safe and undamaged!

  2. Typhoon Haggis is definitely more memorable haha, like a gigantic stomach bladder extending over all of Japan haha. I like these reports from in amidst the storm, I feel like I am there with you. Batten down the hatches and stay wwarm x

    • Thank you, and I can assure you that staying warm won’t be a problem, since typhoons bring perversely hot weather with them, ugh. Today was scorching and sunny, perfect weather for touring the nabe and seeing which shops are using this as an excuse to skive off for another day…

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