Roke wasn’t my first typhoon in Japan so I thought I knew what to expect: the windows would rattle, there would be a ton of rain and it wouldn’t be very pleasant to be outside. I checked the Japan Railways website before leaving for work and all seemed normal. I got a bit soggy on the walk to the station, but no more than you would expect on a winter’s day – or a summer’s day – in Manchester. Here is a picture I took of the rain streaming off my neighbour’s house:
The garden seemed to be enjoying it, anyway!
Things started to get a little out of the ordinary part of the way through my first lesson. The school building was jumping around like in an aftershock and more than once the student looked up from the books and raised a concerned eyebrow. Take care out there, I said as he was leaving, but thought nothing more of it until after my second class, when I heard that the schools were being closed and we were being advised to get home sharpish.
That turned out to be easier said than done! With many other unhappy commuters I waited on a train that couldn’t move because the wind was rocking it back and forth so much that to leave the shelter of the station would have been madness. Through the pelting rain I took this admittedly not very great shot of the one on the next platform:
You might just about be able to make out a carload of passengers calmly reading newspapers…
And there we waited. In the end, a couple of hours went by, my water and chocolate ran out and I began to get a little restless. Then we were asked to leave the train and wait on the platform, the doors shut but still nothing moved. I went down the stairs, back into the station, where not much was happening. Realising from a quick look at a map that I was about 5 km from home, I decided to walk. The weather was definitely calmer now, although as I couldn’t be certain if that was the end, or the eye, of the storm, I made sure not to dawdle!
As I walked I saw bikes lying in heaps like discarded toys, cliché though it is, exactly as if some giant children had been playing with them and suddenly got bored. Trees were uprooted, huge plant pots overturned and leaves and twigs crunched underfoot, as if everything had been shredded. I saw a building site’s hoardings toppled over and another one whose netting had been sliced as if with a knife, leaving the ends flapping like a sail in the still full breeze. Then the human detritus, hundreds of broken umbrellas, a lost baseball cap and a scarf, their owners maybe somewhere in the next ward, wondering exactly where their belongings had ended up.
It was such a relief to get home, find it still standing and to sink into my own pillows. Then the final pay off, as always happens on the morning after a typhoon in Japan, you wake up and throw open the curtains to witness this sight, whereupon all the inconvenience and mayhem seems strangely worth it:
If only there was some way to have the post-typhoon freshness without the big wind…