5 years ago today I am in the Yamanote line going to an interview for what is to become my current job. The shaking hits as we are pulling in to the platform at Shinjuku station. I brace myself as the car sways to what feels like 30º angles and people standing don’t know if they should jump out or jump in.
As things calm down, the station master announces on the PA system that all trains are stopped probably for the rest of the day and asks everyone to exit the station calmly. I glance up at towers in Shinjuku west side, they are still swaying back and forth 10 minutes after the quake.
I leave the station but all I can think about is how to make it to my interview. I try calling the HR guy and my agent maybe 20 times but nothing is going through. I send a couple emails to my family and friends abroad saying I’m fine so that they don’t worry as they wake up and see a big earthquake on the news.
I try desperately to catch a taxi that could bring me closer to Tamachi where my interview is. Finally I manage to get through to the HR guy who tells me everyone left the building and the interview is cancelled.
That’s the moment when I look up at the giant video screen on the front of the Flags building at Shinjuku south entrance. It shows the live view from a helicopter as the wave unfurls over Tohoku. I realize how bad the situation is and how silly I was focusing on my stupid job interview…
I stay maybe 30 minutes in shock, watching the live images of the disaster with hundreds of business people and shoppers. Then I realize there is nothing to do but walk home. I curse myself for buying new business shoes for this interview as I walk 5km back to Ikebukuro.