Accounts of those who were left stranded by Typhoon Jebi in Japan

by Cory Baird

Staff Writer

Typhoon Jebi tore through western Japan on Tuesday, leaving residents and tourists stranded throughout the Kansai region.

Whether people took refuge in train stations, airports or hotels, most faced a large degree of uncertainty as to when they would be able to return home or move on to their next destination.

Stories from those who spent a frantic day in the midst of the powerful storm:

‘Karaoke refugees’

Saitama Prefecture resident Daniel Fath was making his way from Tokyo to Kyoto by shinkansen with his daughter, father and stepmother, when Typhoon Jebi made landfall, forcing the train to stop at Hamamatsu Station in Shizuoka Prefecture for nine hours before it was able to continue on to Nagoya Station.

Nearby hotels were already at capacity when they arrived in Nagoya around midnight and with no more trains departing until the next morning, Fath and his family could only find lodging in a karaoke room — sometimes tapped for a place to sleep by all-night revelers but hardly a common lodging for a family.

Fath also noted that, while train station announcements were made in both Japanese and English through signboards and loudspeakers, the English announcements were slightly confusing. As a Japanese speaker himself, he also noticed that the Japanese announcements contained more specific information about when the trains were expected to resume service.

Fath noticed that some travelers who were unable to speak either Japanese or English had trouble understanding the announcements.

At 6 a.m. the next morning, Fath and his family were finally able to board the shinkansen from Nagoya Station without any more significant delays.

Although there were hundreds of people waiting for the trains to restart, the crowds — both tourists and locals — filed back into the station in an orderly manner, he said.

A long day at Kansai airport

Osaka native Ami Kataoka, who works at Kansai International Airport, was unable to return home after her shift and spent 24 hours stranded at the airport as Typhoon Jebi flooded parts of the facility.

Kataoka said that the situation at the airport was a little chaotic after the power went out and that there were long lines to buy food at convenience stores.

She was able to take a bus to Osaka’s Izumisano Station on Wednesday morning, while others were taken by ferry to Kobe airport.

Kansai International Airport is one of the largest in Japan, hosting 28.8 million passengers in 2017, 21.9 million of which came from international flights, according to the airport’s operator.

A 30-story climb

Nathan, a tourist from Vancouver who gave only his first name, spoke to The Japan Times through Twitter on Wednesday to talk about how scary it was to stay at a hotel in Osaka as the typhoon swept through the region.

“Highlights of the experience were definitely the shaking in our hotel,” he wrote. “We were up high on the 30th floor and it was almost like a boat. We could feel the building moving. On the lower floors you could hear the banisters and glass windows creaking.

“Elevators stopped working so we had to either walk up 30 stories worth of stairs or stay in the hotel lobby,” he added. “Most people did. Ended up becoming very crowded.

“Honestly we got off quite easy compared to other places we saw on the news,” he wrote. “Just unsure of how to get home in our current situation. Our flight was supposed to be today but kansai airport is not functioning.

“Took over a half hour for us to contact our airlines (air Canada) due to the amount of people calling in to reschedule flights,” he wrote.