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Cancel trip to Japan?

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Mar 13th, 2011, 03:22 PM
  #1
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Cancel trip to Japan?

The tragedy in Japan is overwhelming and it is so hard to think of something so self absorbed as whether or not we should cancel our trip for next month! We were planning on being in Tokyo and Kyoto and my instinct is to try to cancel except that my 84 year old mother in law has been so excited about us coming to visit and we haven't been in two years.

I am getting a little pressure from hotels to let them know if we are coming or not. I just can't think of a vacation.

Is anyone else in this position and how are you making a decision whether to go or not? I guess it is still a wait and see.
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Mar 13th, 2011, 04:01 PM
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Right now (that is, this week) is pretty certainly not the time to be visiting Japan, as much as one would want to show support for the country. There's a significant issue with electricity usage in the Tokyo region: many train services have been canceled today (Monday), and it's very possible that the power company (Tepco) will stage rolling blackouts. Whether or not they do depends on how much power usage can be cut back, and when additional power sources can be brought online. Very much a day-to-day situation.

Power blackouts are much more serious in Tokyo than in most places. A power blackout means no elevators (for most buildings), and no water in many buildings.
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Mar 13th, 2011, 04:57 PM
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Tough decision. Of course you want to see family. They want to see you. Maybe it feels even more urgent now that this disaster has happened.

While well outside of the damage zone, we are still feeling the effects in subtle ways. Gas stations were crowded with people filling up as word of rationing got out. Power issues are serious, with Tokyo Electric customers on rolling blackouts starting today. Other electric companies have urged us to cut our own use, prompting factory closures, reduced store hours, and residents conserving as they are able. Transportation in Tokyo is running but on altered schedules. Going north out of Tokyo is tough going and only possible by airplane or helicoptr or car using secondary roads only.

Kyoto is business as usual so far, but not sure if power cuts will expand to the Kansai area as well.

There is a feeling of deep loss, sorrow and helplessness among people in unharmed Kanazawa - it is tough to go on with everyday life knowing that just a little ways away there is complete and utter devastation. The TV shows nothing other than quake and tsunami info. Most people have family or friends who have been affected. It feels wrong somehow to do something fun.

There is also the warning that came yesterday. It said that seismologists predict a 70% chance of another quake of magnitude 7 or greater within 72 hours, and if that occurs almost surely will be followed by tsunami again. Aftershocks are continuing, at any rate, and are expected to be severe for a month. The nuclear power plant crisis is still unfolding, with this morning reports indicating that efforts to cool the fukushimi Daiichi number 3 reactor have not succeeded yet and last night they warned of possible explosion from that reactor, too. In addition, two other nuclear plants are reported to be experiencing cooling failure, but I formation on the extent or seriousness is scant. At any rate, the first plant emergency is being handled seriously, with 200,000 people evacuated, 150 people being treated for radiation exposure (as of now), and iodine pills ready for distribution.

So - if you decide to make the trip, perhaps make it one of visiting with family and enjoying each other rather than sightseeing.
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Mar 13th, 2011, 05:43 PM
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emmagus, I would be inclined to postpone. Is your mother in law mobile enough to travel? Perhaps you could bring her and another relative, or caregiver, to wherever you are?

Kim, I really value your personal observations. Take good care of yourselves!
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Mar 13th, 2011, 06:42 PM
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I left Japan just a few days ago, and I am following the story with much sadness and I'd like to thank KimJapan for her update on the situation.

I can't help but wonder how power cuts will affect subways and trains in Tokyo that so many communters rely on.

emmagus, it's a tough call, as you're not travelling until April I'd wait a little while and see how things unfold before choosing what to do.
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Mar 13th, 2011, 06:50 PM
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In Tokyo, commuters have been advised to not take the train. However, that is the main form of transport for most people, and as such, the stations have been packed with people waiting for trains that are running on much reduced schedules. This is shown on local news.

Rolling blackouts have been postponed for this morning as conservation efforts were enough to keep demand below supply. But, that doesn't mean they won't implement the blackout plan as early as this afternoon. It is expected for the power shortage to be quite long term, with initial rolling blackout plan covering the time until the end of April.
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Mar 13th, 2011, 07:21 PM
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I'm up in the air also as I am supposed to leave in a little over two weeks - even though I am going straight to Kyoto via shinkansen and then to Kyushu for a week (the volcano there has erupted again as well...) I will end up in Tokyo for a couple of days - that will be almost the middle of April. My airline is allowing a change with no fee as long as you leave by May 10 - of course the period from about 4/29 to 5/5 is Golden Week so I don't think I want to travel then either....oy.....
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Mar 13th, 2011, 07:22 PM
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Kim thank you so very much for your information. It really helps us understand what is happening. Perhaps you should start a new post with the topic of your updates. It has been many years since I was in Japan but it holds a very special place in my heart. The images we are seeing of the devistation are very sobering that is for sure. Take care & thank you again.
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Mar 13th, 2011, 10:42 PM
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Mara - have you thought about flying in/out of Osaka instead of Tokyo, and staying in in the
southern areas?
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Mar 13th, 2011, 10:50 PM
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Guys, I'm struggling with this very issue myself. Initially we thought since we're mostly going to southern areas, that this wouldn't be a big deal--but now reading about the nuclear concerns and what seems to be a chain reaction-type cycle unfolding, I'm seriously wondering if we need to change our planned April 8th trip.

This would be tough to re-plan given that we have to go those 2 weeks, but I suppose with some serious planning we could figure out a Plan B.

I guess my question is: given the choice (and even 2 or 3 weeks down the line) would you look for a Plan B?
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Mar 13th, 2011, 11:18 PM
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I'd look for a plan B. Not as a sure thing, but we just don't know how this is all going to unfold. A second reactor at the same location as the first exploded this morning, but they say the container for the radioactive material is probably intact as readings for radioactivity around the plant have not increased.

More than the nuclear problem, though, which is 300 km north of Tokyo, is the overall damage to the power grid. Even Kanazawa, on the west coast, undamaged, uses power generated by 3 nuclear plants operated by Hokuriku Electric that are in the quake zone and are shut down. The whole country has been urged to conserve in every way possible. It's completely uncharted territory, no one knows what will happen.

It could be all improving from now, but it wouldn't take much to send things into a downward spiral again. A big aftershock, continued trouble at the power plants (it will be days or weeks before they have that under control), even bad weather...those things could all impact how things are panning out.

Today, Tokyo is pretty much a mess. The power cuts have reportedly started, but even here, local news stations are broadcasting sometimes conflicting information...one channel says power is cut in section 3, another says not but will be cut on schedule for section 4...

I'm inclined to think Tokyo will be OK, provided there is not another quake of significant magnitude. There is about 48 hours left on the 72 hour clock they gave for the 70% chance of a quake of magnitude 7 or higher occurring. It is also unknown where that anticipated quake might occur, so everyone has been urged to be prepared, regardless of location. Japan is, after all, sitting on multiple major faults.

2 weeks might make a lot of difference...but right now things just aren't going so well here. Even though areas like Kyoto haven't been affected directly, and life is going on as usual in unaffected areas, it feels a bit strange to me. Many, many people have friends or family members who were in the damage zone. It just feels almost wrong to go about normal daily life while relatively nearby people who survived the initial quake and tsunami are now struggling for basics like food and water. I'm just amazed at how very similar it is all looking to 2004. Japan is more developed and better prepared supposedly than Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka... but is having similar trouble getting aid to those who need it - the areas hardest hit and most in need of help are impossible to access.

I don't know what to tell you, except that from the perspective of being somewhere unscathed yet so close, it's weird, and a little scary. I also have no idea about things like food shortages and gas rationing, transportation schedule cuts...all of those things are happening now on a limited scale in addition to power cuts, and all of those things are local to damaged areas. But, when I bought gas yesterday, there were many doing the same, and the price had jumped ¥10/liter from the last time I had bought it a week before. We've been advised to stock non-perishable food like rice and canned goods.

There is just no telling what will happen. The full scale of damage is not yet known.
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Mar 14th, 2011, 12:00 AM
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I am following this thread with interest as we have plans to go mid-April for a week to Tokyo and Kyoto.

I keep telling myself "it will be better by then" but now I'm starting to wonder. Since we bought a vacation package and our travel dates are inflexible, I think it would be a total loss if we could not go. But I have not called yet to see our options, choosing to "wait and see" right now.
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Mar 14th, 2011, 12:18 AM
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I would wait and see. There is no knowing what is going to happen even in an hour right now. That's the trouble. There are way too many "what ifs" in the equation to make any sort of prediction. All I can tell you is how it is now, and what those around me are saying and feeling. No one is very happy at this time, understandably. But people are naturally pretty resilient and Japanese have a good portion of both "endure" and "do your best" in them.

Wait and see what happens, but have a plan B just in case.
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Mar 14th, 2011, 04:34 AM
  #14
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Unfortunately my mother in law will not fly any longer. And I cannot ask two 7 year old boys to sit in her house for 10 days and yet sight seeing feels inappropriate.

I do understand the feeling of numbness and shock because I am in NY and was here for the WTC. And that was not nearly as devastating as what Japan is going through right now (although terrifying). But oddly, even though we were all numb, life returned to "normal" in a couple weeks.

My main worry now is the radiation with my children. I guess we just have to give it another week.
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Mar 14th, 2011, 04:58 AM
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Although I'm lucky enough to have visited Japan last year, and have no plans to go back this year, I'm following this thread with interest. Many thanks to KimJapan for her updates, and much sympathy to everyone in Japan. As KimJapan says, no matter how developed and well-prepared a country is, nature can make all the planning moot. We don't realize how fragile life is until something like this happens.
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Mar 14th, 2011, 06:21 AM
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The source for the most complete and up-to-the-minute English-language information is probably the streaming NHK news, which is live and dubbed, at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nhk-world-tv
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Mar 14th, 2011, 06:36 AM
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lcuy - my airline(AA) flies to NRT or Haneda from JFK - I would have to change in Tokyo.....
Thanks for your reports, KJ!
rizzuto - I've been watching that online constantly.....
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Mar 14th, 2011, 08:00 AM
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Thanks Kim for the updates and mood information. Being on an island here we know the feeling when a tragedy happens in another neighborhood. Everyone's psyche are affected,the fortunate feel an impassioned guilt. Hopefully the news and mood will be more positive soon. So glad you and your family are safe.

rizz, have been glued to that site.

Yes give it some time......time heals all....eventually even this.

Aloha!
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Mar 14th, 2011, 09:19 AM
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I've just heard that the US State Department has issued a warning and is acting that non-emergency personnel avoid traveling to Japan, it looks like until April 1st.
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...a/pa_5382.html
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Mar 14th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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The US State Department issues warnings and alerts every time the temperature goes above 81 or below 44 for any country on the planet. They are covering their butts rather than providing reliable information.
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