The delegation of public officials travelling to Japan for a Sister City signing and emergency response training, found themselves dealing with a real situation caused by an earthquake.
The Del Norte delegation was to catch a high-speed train out of Tokyo to to get closer to Rikuzentakata, but a 4.6 quake just off the shores of Isume on Sunday caused the train line to shut down. Amya Miller, former principal consultant for Rikuzentakata, met the delegation in Japan, and communicated issues they would have with the train and boarding.
Aboard one train, messages appeared on video screens, saying that while no tsunami was generated by the quake, other trains would be delayed.
When the delegation arrived at the train terminal on Tokyo, the scope of the problem became obvious. The expansive building, with hallways that seemed to come to a point in the distance, were packed with people. While most were walking, many took a seat on the floor along walls, columns and stairs to wait for the train to come back on line.
The delegation formed an island of suitcases in an open area, to mull solutions while some ran to local stores and vending machines.
“Well I guess this is your emergency,” Miller joked. “How are you going to deal with it?”
While Crescent City has no rail system, the subject spurred some casual conversations in the terminal regarding earthquakes and local transportation issues.
Miller said the delegation had three basic choices; wait in the terminal for the train to come back on line and compete with the thousands of people for a seat, charter an eight-hour bus ride to Rikuzentakata, or check into a hotel in Tokyo and leave for Rikuzentakata at 6 a.m. Japan time.
After so many hours of frantically dragging luggage around, the weary delegation ended up staying in the Tokoyo Inn in Tokyo.
Most of the first day was travel; an hour Saturday on Contour Airlines to Oakland, a van ride to SFO, a 10-hour flight to Tokyo, a train to another part of Tokyo and a cab ride to the hotel. For the most part, Mayor Blake Inscore led the collective, with his bright yellow hat, specifically, chosen, he said, to make him easier to find in the busy terminals.
Rikuzentakata Senior Executive Advisor Hiroshi Murakami saved the day when it came to issues with train tickets and hotel reservations. Murakami would typically collect everyone’s passports, disappear into a boarding office or terminal for a while and then reappear to return passports and hand out tickets.
The plan was to get to Rikuzentakata a bit late, meet with Mayor Futoshi Toba and then go to the Sister City signing ceremony.