Typhoon Jebi Got Us Down But Not Out
No good pictures for this update as we’ve been in the grind part of travel. The storm on Tuesday was quite terrifying. At its peak we didn’t feel comfortable in the bedroom area of our Airbnb and ended up huddled on the floor of the kitchen on the first floor of the building as the building shook and the winds roared outside. A few items shook loose from the walls as the wood house we were in swayed. A building visible from our house lost part of its roof.
Typhoon Jebi was reported to be the strongest storm to hit Japan in 25 years. While it was predicted to be at or below a category 1 when it made landfall, subsequent reports suggest it was a category 3.
The Osaka Kansai airport is connected by bridge to the mainland. A tanker got loose during the storm and crashed into the connecting bride cutting off access to the airport. (Luckily the 11 member crew was not injured.) Much of the airport flooded and 5,000 people were stuck there. It must have been awful. Evacuations continued throughout the next day. The continued closure of the airport is quite remarkable given it is one of the largest airports in Japan.
There was a lot of devastation in the region where we stayed and I feel very fortunate we were so minimally impacted. That said, it did change the course of our plans as we were due to fly out to Hong Kong today (Thursday) and the airport is estimated to remain closed for several more days.
Yesterday was quite a scramble trying to figure out what to do. We have developed some pretty good skills wandering into restaurants where we can’t speak the language or read the menu and stumbling through the process to a delicious meal. Turns out that delicate system of hand signals, smiles and a few vocabulary words is tasty, but wholly inadequate to understand forecasts and service alternatives in the aftermath of a massive storm. This experience was a first for me as a traveler and raises some questions for a future me about what emergency information we need when we don’t speak the language. (Side note: it’s one of an already too long list of reasons why it’s awful the US foreign service has been decimated in this administration. The only info out of the US embassy was about beef negotiations! The UK Foreign Office, alternatively, provided useful information and we used their guidance.)
Putting together a plan to continue our trip finally started to come together with the idea to take the train to Tokyo and fly from there (once we confirmed the trains were running again). Getting the plane tickets was exceedingly stressful as options were limited. The carrier we were booked on had no availability for a full week after the storm. We tried to purchase several tickets that disappeared in the midst of our checkout process. Eventually we snagged one.
We are now on our way to Tokyo with plans to fly out in the morning and arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow. Not too bad of a delay considering the situation.
Japan remains one of our family favorite destinations and I know we will be back. But I suspect this visit will stay memorable for a long while. And not be underestimated, the delay provided one more opportunity for conveyor belt sushi, which we enjoyed to the fullest.