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Tokyo on Fire

If I tell you a story, can you forgive me for not updating?

A week ago, I had an eye injury (something got in my eye and scraped it up while I was sleeping). It hurt a lot, so I biked to my local optometrist, whom I hadn’t seen since my yearly check up last December. It turned out that they had went out of business. (o´_`o)ハァ・・・

Actually, my eye wasn’t that bad looking. It just hurt quite a bit. As my eyes are very precious to me, I had it checked out, though. The optometrist told me that it wasn’t serious, and gave me some antibiotics and other medicine.

Apparently, me, who has no allergies other than hayfever (which is hitting REALLY hard right now), is allergic to whatever is in there. It made my eye swell up and seem like it’s melting! Of course, since I was a retard, I’d decided to put it in my other eye too. It turned as red as a tomato and hurt like crazy.

So I quit the medicine, and decided that if it hadn’t improved overnight, I’d go back to the doctor.

Luckily, it improved! One eye almost entirely cleared up, and the other, red one (the one without the original injury), stopped hurting. That was four days ago. I stopped the eye medicine entirely, and both of my eyes are almost back to normal.

But, damn. It was scary. Not to mention that I had to get my photo taken with that horrible, painful red eye, and I also had two parties to go to. I’ll say one thing, though:

At least wearing sunglasses indoors at night made me look cool! Or, stupid… but sunglasses were better than scaring everyone with my demon eyes. XD;

But anyways… Saturday, I had two parties to go to (A cosmetics convention, and then a mangaka party afterward). I didn’t get to bed until 1 am, and then at 5:30, something really, really loud woke me up.

I was really sleepy and groggy, and to be honest, usually I tune out sirens. I live right on a big road, so I hear sirens every day from passing fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances. They come by at any time of the night, so I just generally don’t notice them anymore. However.

However. This time it woke me up.

No surprise, though, because it was outside. As in, right outside my house.

It’s literally freezing cold in Japan these days, so I had the windows closed, and after a few moments of listening to the sirens, I heard voices overlapping. Really, really loud announcements.

I thought they said, “tsunami” Tsunami is coming!”

Um.. with all we have been through this year in earthquakes, and the huge tsunami up North last March, that’s probably why. There’s also been an unusual number of earthquakes in the early morning recently. I felt my body go frigid. I technically live in Yokohama city, which is a famous trading port, I live really far inland. It takes an hour on the train to get to the water. I also live on a highish elevation. Even a giant tsunami would never hit here. Or, so I thought. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. But I live at the foot of a bunch of hills, so I have the plan that if there ever is a tsunami warning, I will go immediately to the top of the hill behind my house.

I really couldn’t believe it, but I packed up my DSLR camera, ipad, iphone, laptop, and wallet (my priorities are on straight). I put on my warmest jacket. Then I decided to open the window to assess the situation before I left.

Oh. It wasn’t a tsunami. It was a fire. The word for tsunami and fire (kaji) aren’t similar, but I immediately both relaxed and tensed up.

You see, this is what I saw when I opened the window (I took the video on my iphone from my apartment’s main window):

The house behind me was on fire.

No tsunami. But awful nonetheless.

The firemen were shouting a lot of things, but mostly, “Is there anybody in there?”

The house that is basically in my backyard (about 10 meters from mine) had a small clothing store on the ground floor, and two small apartments on the top floor. I didn’t know it at the time, but the person who lives in the left apartment had noticed the fire and evacuated, but the person in the right apartment, where the fire had originated, had not made it. Actually, from their shouts, which eventually gave way to other orders, it sounded like they’d never heard anyone make any noises. So he was probably already gone. Hopefully, he went in his sleep from smoke or something rather than burning alive. I think that was the case, since he never opened the door or anything and it was a very small apartment.

Anyways, I took a bunch of pictures, wondering if I should leave or not. They firemen weren’t evacuating us in our apartments, so I figured that it would be best for the moment to stay inside and monitor things in case they got worse.

There was just a lot of smoke at first,

Finally, it seemed that they managed to find a person.
I didn’t know for sure, but had a feeling that the dark, unmoving shape was not a living person. I found out later that he didn’t make it.

And then suddenly, whoosh! There was no boom, but flames suddenly appeared and reached up high. They were starting to fall on my apartment building.

At this point, I evacuated myself and stood in the parking lot, out of the way, with some of the other neighbors. After a while, the firemen asked if everyone was out of the apartments, and we helped bang on the doors to get others out.

We all stood outside as they got the fire under control.

The building on the right, that is where I live.

I wasn’t sure if it was okay, but it seemed like the fire was out eventually, and so I went back inside. I fell asleep listening to the sounds of firemen breaking apart the roof of the house next door to make sure everything was out.

A few hours later, I woke up and watched them for a little while.

Hole in the roof where fire had whipped out.

Firemen standing around in the early morning (around 10am).

From my window.

You can’t tell so much from the back (even less from the front), but you can surmise from the fire that the interior was completely destroyed. When I went by on the way to karate around noon, there were still firemen inside, probably trying to determine the cause.

I wonder what it was. Was it a cigarette, or a futon getting too close to a space heater? Was it possibly arson? Maybe the old man was too tired of life, and decided that this was the easiest way to end his suffering?

I hope it wasn’t the latter. This kind of fire came really close to me, but it’s not something that is going to end up in the news. Not in a huge city like Tokyo. But, the air still carries the smell of smoke, which I notice every time that I open my windows. I won’t forget it anytime soon.

Well, there’s also the burned-out house. A fitting reminder.

I’ll get some more photos if I can.. after I get back to normal life. My eyes, at least, are almost completely healed, and my hayfever is being held at bay through hard medicine. So, things are not at all bad!

Have you ever been in or near a house fire? Tell me about it in the comments! This was my first time coming this close, that I can remember. It’s a powerful reminder of the frailty of life.

Now going to finish those commissions! Hopefully I can get them almost all done today. Ganbarimasu.

(117 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.

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