Ring of Fire

10th Floor, Toyoko Inn, Fukushima City

There are lots of fun reasons for a bed to be rattling in the middle of the night. But an earthquake isn’t one of them. The first quake hits at 3:20am. It’s a 5.7 magnitude off the coast of Ibaraki Prefecture, and feels like a ride on a coin-operated horse at the grocery store. Within ten seconds it’s over.

The second quake two hours later is slightly weaker – 5.6 magnitude – but closer. About twenty miles away right off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. Fear strikes in a waiting-for-the-ceiling-to-crash-down kind of way. I stand paralyzed in the middle of my tiny hotel room with one overarching thought, “I do not want to die in the Japanese equivalent of a Holiday Inn.”

Our earthquakes are the orange and yellow ones.

Beth Balaban and I have been here three times in two years for filming Son of Saichi, and every time, there’s been a quake. Is this really what daily life here is like? Here’s the tally from our little corner of this Pacific Ring of Fire:
2 earthquakes today
3 earthquakes in the past 7 days
5 earthquakes in the past month
118 earthquakes in the past year

Scientists say the abundant seismic activity here could give Japan all the clean energy it needs – as much as twenty nuclear reactors. I think it might be time to enjoy the seismically charged hot springs to evaluate further…

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