I was in the school cafeteria having lunch today with my international student friends just like any other day when suddenly a not too loud alarm went off coming from somewhere in the big dining room. I noticed how my own phone was vibrating and making a sound as well, apparently like practically everyone else’s smartphones in the whole building. That’s where the alarm came from, everywhere. Those who had their location service activated got a ringing notification thad read “Emergency warning” and then some gibberish in Japanese that I could not make sense out of. Confused gazes were thrown around the table and an instant later the ground started to shake.
Honestly, I got very scared and was close to panicking as I simultaneously heard the word earthquake firmly spoken out around me. There was no screams but the sound volume of worried chatter increased and disorder started to spread. Some American girls on the table next to us immediately crawled under their table. I remember looking around, meeting peoples eyes and many seemed just as worried as me. I managed to ask “Do we need to get out of here?” before the situation started to ease off. All of this was probably within the first seven seconds or so. Fortunately, there was some people with previous experience at my table, like a girl from Mexico who rather quickly told us to calm down since she felt it was nothing serious. Many of the Japanese people all around also seemed to take it pretty mellow and I did not see anyone sprint out. The continuous quake was maybe more interesting rather than scary. It felt very unfamiliar and endured for about 30 seconds.
The epicenter of the earthquake was about 140 km away and the magnitude was 6.7 at at a depth of 51 km. In Sapporo, the tremor was not significant even though it was rather close. Also, as my Mexican friend pointed out to us, the ground was moving horizontally. Kind of like if there would be a pen remaining still and pointing down on the ground, it would be drawing circles on the surface. Apparently that is not as bad as if it would be moving vertically up and down, unless it is very powerful. Even though it was not serious at all, mother nature reminded me of who is in charge. For a moment, adrenaline was definitely rushing intensely through my veins.
Later we found out that some people hadn’t even noticed it while some other had been more frightened, for example those who were in their high-story apartment, where the shake is felt like much worse when the whole building is swinging. I guess the perception depends on the environment you are currently in when it happens.
Evidently, there has been 11 minor earthquakes all around Hokkaido the past month. This was the biggest one of them and also the one closest to Sapporo. I hope this was the worst of it.