Daily Archives: Thursday 2 June 2011

Jishin-yoi: the feeling of earthquake drunkenness

It usually starts with a jolt.  If walking or standing, I notice the ground beneath my feet start to move, or if sitting I feel it along my spine.  I brace myself for what is coming, look up at the light switch to see if it is moving…

… but nothing.

Check Twitter but there are no messages saying ‘quake!’ or, as we have got used to them and levity has crept in, ‘first!’  No reports from the Meteorological Agency announce an aftershock has been recorded.  If there are other people around, my friends or students or coworkers, they do not seem to have noticed anything amiss.  I shrug my shoulders, try to escape the sense of unease and get back to whatever it was I was doing.  It must have been what I have started to think of as another ‘ghost aftershock’.

So I was perhaps gladdened, perhaps saddened to read this story from the Tokyo Times today.  On the one hand, it is nice to know that I am not going completely insane, that this is a recognised side-effect of being somewhere shaky.  As a Liverpool lass, I am also reassured to discover that this feeling is shared with sailors returning home after a long sea voyage.

The sadness comes from realising that, as with so much of the post-quake effects, however bad it is here, others have it so much worse.  A slight sense of giddiness every now and then is nothing compared to those in Northern Japan who have suffered panic attacks, fevers, vomiting and falling down, in addition to the many other physical and mental hardships they have had to endure.

Earthquake drunkenness will, I suspect, go away given enough time.  A recent visit to Kyoto, which sits on a different plate to Tokyo, saw the ghost aftershocks disappear completely for the duration of my stay.  Yet there are many serious problems affecting Tohoku for which people can’t wait for time to do its healing work, instead, help is needed much sooner.

So please, grab yourself a copy of #quakebook while I grab myself a glass of something fine and single malt-like.  It may not be strictly orthodox medical advice, still I reason, if you are going to be affected by ghost drunkenness, you might as well try to chase it away with the real kind!

Whisky glass and bottle on my desk, with postcard of ship at the Pier Head, Liverpool

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