• Kyodo, Staff Report


Tuesday morning’s powerful earthquake may have been centered off the Tohoku coast, but it also had an impact on Tokyo, where disruptions in train services left commuters and other travelers stranded.

At JR Ueno Station, people wanting to travel to Tohoku formed long lines to collect fare refunds or buy new tickets after regular train services to the region were interrupted.

A group of women planning to travel to Fukushima Prefecture were left wondering what effect the earthquake would have on their plans.

“The quake scared us, but we decided to still go as there haven’t been any serious reports of damage so far,” said a woman in her 60s who was traveling with four friends. “I hope the shinkansen will operate as usual.”

“The service on the express train line I was supposed to board has been halted,” lamented a 52-year-old man headed to Ibaraki Prefecture for business. “I have to contact my colleagues and people I was supposed to meet and I want some more information.”

The temblor came as a shock for many non-Japanese travelers and overseas visitors. To alleviate their concerns, announcements in JR Shinjuku Station were made in both Japanese and English.

“I have already experienced quakes in Japan, but today’s lasted for so long that I was scared,” said Spaniard Meritxell Jubert, 29, who was preparing to return to her home country after three years in Japan. “I’m sure people in Fukushima are worried about aftershocks, too. I hope it will calm down soon.”

“It started shaking this morning when I was still asleep in my hotel room. I jumped out of my bed as I was shocked and didn’t know what was happening,” said a 55-year-old American man who recently arrived in Japan. “I switched on the TV and gathered some information on the internet, so I learned there hasn’t been much damage. I also managed to check that my friends are safe, so I feel relieved.”

On social media sites, meanwhile, some Tokyoites lamented their struggles to get to work on time, which meant boarding overcrowded trains.

A Twitter user with the handle @koto_orz wrote “I came in this morning as usual but I hope someday we’ll be allowed to come to work without such a rush when a huge earthquake comes.”

“The train delays in the wake of this morning’s quake have caused station gates to overflow with people regardless of whether the train is 20 minutes late or doesn’t arrive at all,” tweeted user @kohatuhako. “Do we really need to rush to work on such days using trains packed so much that your body might get flattened? … This is Tokyo.”

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