By Jim Peterson, Covenant missionary to Japan. This article was taken from Jim and Hydi Peterson’s blog, which can be found here
Seismological data would show that the ground around Japan is almost always rumbling, even if ever so slightly. But it only gets strong enough for us to feel every once in a while. I felt the earth begin to move on Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) just before noon. It was just a feint tremor, but sitting at my desk I could feel it. And what caught my attention was that it was long. It seemed like it went on for well over a minute. I turned on the T.V. and learned that the epicenter was up north, a ways off the Pacific coast. Tsunami warnings began to blink in the bottom corner of the screen on every channel. Several channels switched to live coverage of coastal areas. This sort of thing is actually quite common here as Japan has one of the world’s best tsunami warning systems. The tsunami alert was predicting waves of up to 50cm in several locations, all well north of Tokyo. In the end a few locations did actually get measurable tsunamis but they didn’t amount to much more than a sudden change in the water level. No damage was reported. But it stuck in my mind just because I had felt it in spite of how far away it was, and also just because it was longer than most earthquakes. Frequently they are over in 10 or 15 seconds.
Having lived here all my life these things don’t register very high on my awareness chart, but just get filed away somewhere as yet another rattle. Of course if you ask me to objectively think about it I’d have to admit that living in Japan means that the chances of dying in an earthquake are actually pretty high. But I guess that is something to which I’ve just resigned myself somewhere along the way, and really don’t think about it all that much.