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.
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…
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!
Alas. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
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.
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?
15:14: No surprise, looks like most subway lines are stopped or busing people between sections in danger of flooding or other hazards
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
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.
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist
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!