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Hello, Guchol. Now Please Leave

Not having access to television has been both good and bad for me. It’s been good that I’ve been spending far less time sitting mindlessly in front of the screen watching re-runs of Will and Grace. On the downside, it’s not helping me feel more connected with localized current events.

For example, and I do believe this is a significant example, I was clueless that a hurricane was barreling toward our fair city until the day before it struck. Typhoon Guchol was an early season category 3 hurricane as it approached Japan. After a beautfiul Tuesday morning the clouds filtered in and then there was some drizzle by afternoon. By Randy’s commute at 6:00pm the rains started.

At this point, Guchol was coming ashore about midway between Kyoto and Tokyo (with Tokyo being on the eastern side). Luckily, hitting land helped slow the storm down to just a severe tropical storm. Even still, I was definitely not anticipating the effects we’d feel. Then again, I wasn’t expecting to feel anything since 24 hours earlier I didn’t even know a typhoon was approaching.

But I digress. By 9:00pm it was raining quite heavily. We’ve got large sheets of glass for windows that go from wall to wall and up to the ceiling (they’re taller than I am) and you could hear the rain striking the glass as the gusts increased. I was thinknig that was worst of it, but I was wrong.

Within the next hour the wind started howling. Living up on the 27th floor it’s difficult to sense what’s going on outside because of the elevation. You’re too high to hear trees and cars splashing, and you also can’t easily see limbs swaying. But apparently the winds had been gradually picking up over time.

By 11:00pm we could hear the ceiling creaking. Then the interior walls started creaking (oddly enough, the exterior walls and windows did not). And that was when it happened. For a second, I felt as if I was moving. In my mind, I just thought I was tired and hearing a wind gust made me think of motion. But then it happened again. And again. I looked over and Randy and we locked eyes as he asked “Did you feel that?”

Oh boy, did I feel that. And I continued to feel it happen more and more frequently, and more and more strongly for the next three hours. It got to the point that despite not having open windows we could see the curtains swaying side to side. I would stand up at the edge of a window and look at a distant landmark. If I kept one eye closed I could see sections of that landmark appear, then disappear, then reappear, then dissapear, as our building swayed from side to side. I know tall buildings are designed to withstand hurricane force winds (and earthquakes) by swaying so they don’t snap. But it’s unsettling to experience it.

It’s especially unsettling for a wimp like me who, despite being raised surrounded by water on all sides on Cape Cod, gets seasick. Figuring I was better off heading to bed, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, only to look down and see the toilet water swishing back and forth gently. Oy vey. At that point, I took some Ativan. If’ I’m going to make it through this thing, I might as well make it while under the influence. You know what they say; better living through chemistry.

The next day way we woke up to the clearest, dryest, most beautiful  morning we’d had in the two weeks that we’d been here. It even kicked out some of the humidity (which is now back on Thursday). By the end of the day it provided us a spectacular sunset (which I took photos of with my cellphone and turned them into a time-lapse video.) Better yet, it even provided one of the rarest sights: an evening view of Mount Fuji.

I suppose that makes up for Thyphoon Guchol the night before. Though, I googled “hurricanes in Japan” and discovered that Tokyo gets hit by an average of three hurricanes per year. Oh, good grief. Maybe I’ll bring a chair to the lobby next time and sit the next one out on terra firma.


  1. Comment by Peter on June 21, 2012 7:26 am

    you can’t get away from the seasickness can you …..
    Although the last thing you should do is close your eyes and go to bed. Keep looking at things at things that aren’t moving, have you learned nothing from our last trip?


  2. Comment by Ryszard Kilarski on June 21, 2012 3:52 pm

    My sympathies. I was in Miami for Hurricane Andrew back in ’92 and it was freaking scary. I remember how the wind sounded and how the front door *shook* on its hinges, as if being forced open by Godzilla. And this was just on the 2nd floor of a 3-story condo.

    The day after was just beautiful. Beautiful sky, great temperature, and we were in the middle of a disaster area. Oh, memories.

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