Many in Osaka have learned that there’s nothing like having the planet attack your home to remind you about the importance of togetherness.

On the morning of 18 June I was going through my usual autonomous routine of making the kids’ breakfast and getting them ready for school. These kind of Monday mornings are so predictable I can pretty much run through the chores blindfolded.

So even on this day as I was putting away the dishes and the floor suddenly lurched up and down beneath me, my empty-headed state didn’t even really think about what was happening. I just instantly grabbed my older daughter, smartphone, and younger daughter in that order… Don’t judge me, it was a proximity thing.

Together we held onto each other and waited in an area away from things that would fall, while my wife ran around doing the earthquake checklist that she had been brought up on, such as insuring the front door could open and the gas was off. For just a little while longer, we waited as the entire room shook and bounced in every direction like the business end of a Jack-in-the-box..

I’ve lived in Japan well over a decade, and that was easily the heaviest earthquake I have ever experienced, but it was over in a about a minute. And when all was said and done, our home didn’t encounter anything worse than an overturned cup.

But that minute, when the odds were even between things getting either better or much worse, was the worst part. I wasn’t really afraid though. I didn’t have time to be. I just held my three kids (we’re talking an iPhoneX here), and waited for the slightest cracking sound, or any other indication that I would have to start hauling all of our asses to safety.

Luckily that hint never came and everything went back to relative normalcy. However, my children’s nightmare had just begun, because the earthquake had already claimed its first victim: regularly scheduled programming.

Gone were their morning cartoons and sing-alongs, and in their place was non-stop coverage of the tremor on every channel – except the shopping one. You’d have to move earth and heaven to get them to stop hawking stuff.

News outlets were scrambling to find whatever examples of destruction they could, but at the time it really didn’t seem like that huge of a quake to cause any. So, they kept looping the same shaking traffic camera shots over and over again while reporting on the many train delays.

Those delays also lead to my daughter’s school getting canceled so she stayed home. The news got rather repetitive so we did other things, but our options were limited. The elevator was taken out of commission for the entire day so it was difficult to go anywhere.

I decided to interview my kids about their experience with this large earthquake.

▼ “Everything on TV was scary. I don’t want another earthquake to come.” [Alisa, 5 years old]

▼ “…Star [reporter you are Father for coming to me about such a complex geological topic. I noted at the time of first tremor that your phone’s automatic emergency warning didn’t go off until slightly after the shaking began. Perhaps that was due to our relative proximity to the epicenter, but this is just a working hypothesis for the moment until I can secure data from the JMA].” [Ami, 2 years old]

My smartphone, however, insisted on keeping up a brave face and tried to change the topic to sports every time I brought it up.

▼ “Here’s the roster for the Earthquakes: You can ask me about a specific player or position. There were more, but this is as much as I can show you.” [Siri, 7 months old]

It wasn’t until we switched the TV back on after lunch that we learned some people had died in the quake, including a nine-year-old girl who was struck by a collapsed wall outside of a school. My heart sank at the news, and it hurts to even imagine the depths of horror that news was to her poor parents. I just hope that anytime these things happen I’ll be with my kids to at least try and help no matter what the outcome.

In the meantime, there’s a weird unspoken vibe that could be seen in people around town and even on TV. It’s the common knowledge that mid-level quakes like this one can sometimes be precursors for much bigger ones in the very near future.

Our bags are packed and waiting by the door and the ways to the nearest shelter are all mapped out. Unfortunately that feeling that things can get a whole lot worse at any moment will still linger for a few more days at least, so I’m going to keep close and holding on to what’s most important to me for as long as I can.

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