The other day I was awaken in the middle of the night with an earthquake (it registered at 5.7). As I watched the ceiling shake above me and felt the building sway (I am on the nine floor) I listened carefully for sounds, the noises that accompany such phenomena. Aside from the clatter of dishes, it was almost eerily quiet, as the entire city pitched and swayed when the waves rolled under it. A few minutes after the earthquake an ambulance's sirens pierced the air and I realized that somehow, it was the sounds of distress that I had been expecting during the earthquake. Instead, it was almost as though the world held its breath. In fact, when I woke up the next morning, I wasn't entirely sure that I didn't just dream it.
I think I expected that the damage from the earthquake and tsunami would be blatant when I first got here. But looking around the city, it all felt, well, like a normal city. People would tell me stories that showed it was still a very vivid memory in everyone's minds but to me, the "fresh off the boat" foreigner who hadn't seen what it was before, it all felt very distant.
As I've gotten to know this city and this prefecture in the past two months, my eyes have become more discerning to the marks of a disaster. Everything was affected. Even the people and places that were left virtually untouched were still affected.