Greatest Earthquake in 140 Years Hit Japan

By P Chong                                                        Saturday, 12 March 2011

Via NHK Japan/English Satellite TV

Until last night I hadn’t known that my youngest brother Mike, Pacific Regional Manager for DuPont, was still in Tokyo, as he told me he was on his way to the U.S. Spoke to him on Skype last night and what a first-time seismic experience for him!

He was in the street when the greatest earthquake in 140 years hit off-shore the Island of Honshu, with its epicentre only 24 Km beneath the sea. Tokyo shook . . . chaos reigned . . . everything stopped functioning. No taxis were available & he had to walk with jostling crowds all the way back to his hotel.

The magnitude of the earthquake was said to be 8.8 in the Richter Scale. On the Japanese Scale of 0 to 7, it measured 7. The time was 2.46 pm on Friday, 11 March 2011.

Japan lies in the seismic zone known as “The Ring of Fire” which encircles the Pacific Rim – Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, East Coast of South America, up to California and right up to Alaska. Tsunami warning was let out to all these places. Initial tsunami waves in Japan were as high as 7 metres & 10 metres. All low lying coastal areas were subsequently warned of evacuation to higher ground. According to Meteorological Agency waves as high as 2 to 3 metres are to be expected with subsequent after shakes recorded in the region of 6.6 Richter Scale.

At the time of writing, NHK satellite TV of Japan announced death toll to be over 422 & 740 missing, but final figures would be hard to confirm. Japan does look to be one ‘ring of fire’.

Took some shots directly from the TV as the scenes were being televised. So here are the shots for your perusal . . .

The sheer force of tsunami waves engulfing everything in its path! Engulfing water full of debris & devastated materials!

Talk of the might & power of any country . . . all pale in significance when compared to the might of God. We are so very insignificant! Be humble man!


Everywhere ablaze . . . smoke & fire along the Pacific coast of Japan

As reported on Sunday, 13 March 2011 at 2.57 am, casualties stood at 680 and it could go beyond 1,000. In fact, in Miyagi Prefecture alone, it is estimated the casualties could be as high as 10,000. It’s the aftermath of the quake bringing on tsunami waves as high as 7,3 metres one after another. According to RT Satellite TV reports, Japan stands the danger of a nuclear disaster similar to that of Chernobyl with the detection of nuclear leaks as a result of explosions at Fukushima nuclear plant to the north of Tokyo. Four injured casualties were found to be affected by radiation leaks with more people being tested.. The question is how bad & extensive will it be & whether it can be contained.

It is feared that this earthquake disaster will stall Japan’s effort to recover from its weak economy. Authorities need to do far more than merely evacuate people from the area. This is a great national tragedy and Japan has appealed for international help.

All along the Pacific coast of Japan, casualties & death keep on mounting. Modern society has never seen the like of it. It’s staggering . . . a disaster that sees the engulfing seas of waves devastating entire villages & towns. It’s nature unleashing all its fury & might. Is this the sign from God, I wonder!

Popular Japanese Capsule Accommodation Spreading Abroad

By P Chong                                              16 April 2010

Asakusa Capsule Hotel
One of the Original Capsule Hotel

More like Cubicles/Pigeon Holes

It’s possible to travel on a shoe-string in Japan because you can save heaps by staying in those “capsule hotels” – where there won’t be any room service but self-capsule service. The capsule, neat & clean,  usually in dimension of 3x3x6ft is all that is needed for you staying overnight in the middle of Tokyo.

Apart from the air-ticket fare, the bulk of the travelling expenses goes towards accommodation.

Capsule Hotel Guest

Such accommodation is modestly clean & safe. For 3200 Yen (about $30) you get a bed in a capsule cell, a capsule box incorporating TV/Radio & controls for volume, light switches. The facilities as provided by the hotel include inexpensive restaurant, massage rooms & baths. Washing/bathing & toiletries being all external & separate may be somewhat inconvenient.

Ticket Vending Machine

At the entrance, you will told that you are expected to stay in until check-out time. They give you a suit of inner wear & a locker key. Most of these hotels accommodate male only, with the exception of some which have women-only floor. $29 is so cheap compared to what is usually charged $120 – $200 for a 3-star hotel in Japan.

Capsule Box Controls

Asakusa Capsule Hotel in Tokyo charges $30 for a capsule with a small TV incorporated with the alarm clock, Radio in a capsule box.


Beijing Introductory Capsule Apartment

In Beijing, China the idea of the capsule-type of accommodation, known appropriately as “Capsule Apartments” has been introduced at the 2010 Spring Real Estate Fair recently. The new living spaces have attracted many people’s attention. Some say that they meet the demands of graduates who are not rich enough to rent a bigger suite. Hopefully, they would alleviate the problem of accommodating those millions of migrant workers who can ill-afford more expensive housing.

Each unit is less than 2 square meters and can only fit a single bed.

Huang Rixin –  designer and owner of the “Capsule Apartments” in Beijing.

“Those who earn one thousand to one and a half thousand a month can’t afford the rent for a single room, which may be 600. So I took out the money I saved over more than two years to build the capsule apartments. I hope it will be accepted by the public, and that the government will consider this issue and take it as a method to solve the housing problem of the floating population in the city.” said Huang. The 72-year-old retired engineer built 8 units of capsule apartments in Beijing. The monthly rent for each unit is between 200-250 yuan.

Huang had an open display of his capsule units and attracted its first tenant, 25-year-old Zhang Qi. The young lady has worked in Beijing for five years with a monthly salary of over three thousand yuan. She wants to save more money to help her family. Zhang says that the only inconvenience is the toilet and shower, because the bathroom is not on the same floor. But she felt she can overcome this if others can.

In places like Hong Kong & Singapore, where space is a premium, such neat capsules could be considered adequate at least temporary. To think of it, in the early days of Hong Kong, migrant workers used to share the same bed with sleeping arrangement alternating according to their work schedule.

Even the early days of Singapore HDB flats used to be nothing but cubicles, like pigeon holes! The same goes for Hong Kong where two in the kitchen is a crowd!

In Perth, we are indeed a fortunate lot with the luxury of space. But as with the enlargement & spread of urban sprawl & land becoming more scarce, the traditional quarter-size building lots are increasingly being squeezed to less than 400 sqm. However, single dwelling is much preferred to apartment type of dwelling.