D is for 地異

D is for chii, or the Japanese word for Disaster. Japan sees its fair share of natural disasters every year. With all of the typhoons, earthquakes, flash floods, and volcanic activity, it’s hard to imagine how so many of Japan’s national treasures have survived the last two millennia in one piece.

While natural disasters are not something I can say I ‘enjoy’, I can say that because of natural disasters, most notably 3/11, I was able to stay in Japan much longer than I would have otherwise. I originally came to Japan as a student, but at the halfway point of my year-long study, the great 2011 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. My program was cancelled, even though I was quite far from the horrifying events further north. In a last ditch bid to remain in Japan, I graduated university early and became a teacher. It has been one of the best decisions I ever made in life.

Of course, not all disasters leave good things in their wake. Typhoons have flooded our house, swept animals down river––thankfully, Kyoto doesn’t get much else except mild earthquakes (house shaking, nothing falling) and thunderstorms (and who doesn’t like those?!) I won’t miss the typhoons so much, but the sound of thunder rolling around outside is going to be one of those things I’ll always want to hear.

Images hosted on Flickr. 

Typhoon in Kyoto

Typhoon in Kyoto

https://flic.kr/p/pwCzZC

Fushimi Inari Shrine

52 thoughts on “D is for 地異

  1. Keith Channing says:

    I can’t say I’m a great lover of thunderstorms, although they’re certainly not a rare occurrence where we live. Their approach means I have to switch off and unplug everything sensitive, and the laptop’s battery life seems never to be enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      I could see how if you live in a place like that, the sound might not be so welcome! For me it always means lightning storms and pleasant background noise, but our power never goes out in Kyoto or California. It used to go out quite a bit when I was a kid in Louisiana… but I found it fun and like an adventure to have to pull out all the candles… that was before I used a computer every day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Oh I hear you on the cleanup. We had an outdoor, open studio in Louisiana that was the same height as the river most times during the floods…. all the MUD! It took weeks to clean up. Not to mention the rest of the property.

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      I agree! There is a famous account of a period of Five Great Disasters in Kyoto alone in the works of Kamo no Chomei (Hojoki)… I think they’ve had their architecture evolve so as to be easily replaced. Houses only last about 20 years here, but they can build them up in a month! It’s quite impressive.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44 says:

    Alex, I’m glad that something good came out of the big earthquake – and it is clear from your posts that Japan has worked its way into your soul, Comes through loud and clear – your posts are so interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Thanks so much, Noelle. It was a pretty surreal experience. I was very happy I was further from all the disasters of 2011 though. I was very lucky!

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Thanks, Sabina! I was really worried about this post because I didn’t have many photos of disasters… and I still don’t know how I feel about all the stuff that happened in 2011. But thunderstorms! They are wonderful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jemima Pett says:

    I too love thunderstorms, especially that weird feeling you get when a thunderstorm is on its way (you don’t get? is it only me?) Disasters I can do without, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      No, I get it too! You can feel a strange pressure in the air… and the light changes. Something in the form of the clouds makes you know. It’s cool feeling the oncoming of the storm as much as it is to actually have it there!

      Like

  4. tdharveyauthor says:

    I love a good thunderstorm. It’s something I miss from living in Philadelphia. The US have much more impressive storms than we do the UK. However, being in the UK, I’m not used to extremes in weather and natural disasters. We get flooding, though it’s never affected me and we get hurricanes and very minor tremors, but that’s it. I’m glad for it really. I think I’d be a baby around typhoons and the like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      It really depends where you are in the U.S. California’s storms are silly (a teacher once told me don’t be a climatologist if you live in Cali… there’s nothing to study!) but the east coast has some amazing (and terrifying) bits of weather yearly. Typhoons are odd. The wind quite literally howls, and sometimes you can feel the small parts of trees and houses protesting imminent breaks, but the weather is so oddball… raining yet not, cloudy yet not. I think that’s what makes them so dangerous! They’re very easy to underestimate.

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      It’s the unfortunate truth of living on the Ring of Fire, on an island, near the monsoon/typhoon area of the world. They have a lot of storms, but they’ve learned how to be really efficient because of it. If you walk down the street, there are full pails of water just waiting for an emergency fire, if one should happen, for example.

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Earthquakes are strange. You feel the whole foundation you are on tremble, kind of like a cup on the dashboard. Then it just stops. And then starts again. I’ve luckily never experienced a really strong one… but there was a 6.0 that I tried to sleep through! My gf said I actually glared at the ceiling while it was happening, like I was challenging the earthquake to DARE and keep me awake any longer, haha… XD

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      3/11 was the date of the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami. It was pretty much when life changed irrevocably for a lot of people out here. It’s like a giant hole, where there used to be so much life.

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      I agree… it was very surreal to see the effects of the disasters in 2011. I’m sorry your whole house had to be rebuilt! Hopefully you didn’t lose anything irreplaceable! 😦

      Like

  5. clicksclan says:

    I really don’t think I’d like to witness any of those disasters first hand. It must be very scary and then heartbreaking to deal with the aftermath.

    The worst disaster we’ve have here in Scotland recently was very bad gales which caused the island where I live to have a three day power cut (and the bit of the island we live on to have five days without power).

    Cait @ Click’s Clan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      My father would go crazy if we lost power for that long! Of course, I probably would too. 🙂 I need white noise to sleep…. then again, the gale might do the trick!

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      That they do. After the earthquake, I was really moved by the country’s rallying to the aid of their fellows. People opened their houses to refuges without any sort of movement being required. The response was not quite the same when Katrina hit New Orleans.

      Like

  6. joannesisco says:

    I love thunderstorms! Having said that, I’ve never lived anywhere that had REALLY spectacular storms so they could very well scare the living daylights of out of me!!

    Reading the comments was very interesting. I don’t know a lot about Japan, but the resilience to keep rebuilding over and over again is quite remarkable! I didn’t realize the architecture would have evolved because of it … but it certainly makes a lot of sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tarkabarka says:

    Gorgeous pictures, as usual 🙂 I was spoiled in Hungary, we have very few natural disasters (other than floods, but we get the slow kind). I am still fairly worried about tornadoes since I moved to the US…

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    Liked by 1 person

  8. bobleponge216 says:

    Japan has a history in recent (and not so recent) times of recovering from disasters, both natural and man-made. They can never be good times, even though good things can sometimes come from them, but the resilience of the Japanese in adversity is truly awe inspiring.
    Great post as always and top pix too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sue Archer says:

    Thunderstorms are getting quite interesting here lately, because now they sometimes happen in the winter. Thunder with snow is odd. I am constantly amazed at how the Japanese are able to carry on through disasters. Something to admire for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. peakperspective says:

    There truly seems to be that ‘silver lining’ phenomenon if one can search deeply enough for it. And the disaster that led you to remain in Japan might need to be sent a small thank you note.
    And I think thunder is one of the most wonderful sounds our earth can create. That, and the dinner bell. That’s a good earthly sound as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      I think real dinner bells should become a thing again. That would be awesome… As long as it wasn’t accompanied by a person calling the cows home. 😉

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Typhoons are a strange beast. They can be wickedly violent, yet simultaneously not feel that dangerous. They’re very disorienting.

      Like

  11. Michelle Wallace says:

    Here where I’m located, on the east coast of South Africa, we’re fortunate in that we don’t really experience natural disasters on the scale that they occur elsewhere, especially the severity of the overseas disasters…
    Even our thunderstorms are of the “milder” variety… actually, I don’t know when last I experienced a “real” thunderstorm.
    We have mainly hot and humid weather here (we’re the warmest region in South Africa and so we’re swamped by holidaymakers during the winter season) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      South Africa! That must be a really interesting place to live! Were you born there or did you move there? Sounds like you’ve got stories to tell! ^_^

      Like

  12. greyzoned/angelsbark says:

    I LOVE thunderstorms! And I really like your story of how the disaster turned out to take you on a new path and one in which you’ve obviously thrived. Life’s little twists and turns: there’s always the unexpected. I have started to live by something I heard not too terribly long ago: When things seem like they are falling apart, maybe they are all just falling into place. Sounds like that was on point for your situation.
    I just now found your blog (from the A-Z Reflections linky list) and I will definitely be back.
    Great theme!
    Michele at Angels Bark

    Liked by 1 person

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