As just about everyone on the planet knows by now, a major earthquake – officially known as the “Great Sendai Earthquake of 2011” – struck Japan on Friday, March 11th. The earthquake was quickly followed by a tsunami, which slammed into the coastlines of northeastern Japan. The combined tsunami and earthquake caused massive damage to many areas. The magnitude of the loss of life has yet to be fully known. Many people are still without power. Rescue efforts are ongoing – and will be for weeks to come.
If you would like to help out with the situation here, we urge you to take a look at the resources that Yahoo and Google have set up related to earthquake relief. In some countries, Apple iTunes users can also easily donate to the Red Cross Japan Earthquake Relief Fund by visiting this link. There are also many other websites and options for helping. Please consider all of the options and do what you think is best.
TokyoFashion.com is based in central Tokyo, so everyone here definitely felt the earthquake. While we have experienced some inconvenience, we’re all doing fine. Thank you all for your messages, wishes, prayers, and concern. If you want to keep up to date with our lives since the earthquake, we have been updating in real time on both Twitter and Facebook.
Our situation – and the situation of most people in central Tokyo – is fairly stable at this time. We – like the rest of Japan – are focusing our concern on the people in the areas hit by the tsunami. They are facing unimaginable hardship right now. We urge you to keep them in your thoughts and to put them first when considering where to put any resources that you might be contributing to the relief effort.
This site is about Japanese fashion, so we thought we should give you a few updates about that as well. Tokyo Fashion Week is scheduled to start next week. As far as we have heard, there are no changes to those plans. As we said previously, Tokyo withstood the earthquake pretty well, so it’s very possible that Fashion Week will go on as planned. At this point, we just don’t know. We’ll keep you updated on that as we hear more from the official JFW organization.
As for the shop situation in central Tokyo – everything is very, very quiet right now. Many shops and department stores decided to close after the earthquake, and some of them haven’t yet re-opened. Many of those stores that have re-opened are closing early every day to conserve electricity. Even if the shops were open, it’s pretty obvious that most people in Tokyo are not really in the mood to shop when all of these life-changing events are going on in other parts of the country.
We took a walk around Harajuku and Shibuya yesterday (Saturday) to try to get an idea of what things look like, bringing our camera along so we could share photos of the current state of things with you.
As soon as we arrived at Harajuku Station – just after noon on Saturday (the day after the earthquake struck) – it was apparent that things were anything but “business as usual” in Tokyo. There were very few people at Harajuku Station, and even less at the entrance to Takeshita Dori. If you’re ever been to Harajuku on a weekend, you will understand that this is almost unheard of.
Those who were around appeared to be mostly out-of-town tourists and foreigners. That’s likely because these are people who were already in Tokyo and who had a limited amount of time to see the sights. I heard more French, German, English, Korean, and other languages around me than I did Japanese. Locals and hardcore younger shoppers were conspicuously absent. On a Saturday afternoon, Harajuku should be wall-to-wall people. It was far from that yesterday.
As we wandered down Takeshita Dori, up Meiji Dori, and along Cat Street, we could see just how many shops were either still closed from the earthquake or had closed really early to help conserve electricity during the emergency. Some shops had signs saying they had closed as early as 2pm, which didn’t seem to make much sense as many Harajuku stores open around 11am or noon.
Thankfully, there is no major earthquake damage is central Tokyo. The photographs we took are only of the closed shops (during prime shopping time on a weekend) and of the signs many shops posted letting customers know they’d closed because of the earthquake. I’m honestly not sure whether these photographs will be very interesting to many people, but to those of us that spend most of our life in Harajuku, it does document a critical moment in time in Japanese history. Sorry we didn’t have more exciting pictures to share with you right now. At least, we hope this will give you a small feeling of what the situation is like in Harajuku and Shibuya in the days after the big earthquake.
If you are planning to visit Tokyo anytime soon, please don’t stress too much about the situation in the central areas. We expect that things will get back to normal here fairly soon. We are confident that you can enjoy your visit.
As usual, you can click on any of the pictures below to see high resolution versions. In the larger versions, the text of the signs is much clearer for reading.
Click any of the pictures to enlarge them.