I’ve never really experienced a large earthquake. There was once in Greece back in 2006 when I was lying down in bed and the room started to shake – a small tremor.

It lasted about five seconds but it was enough to shake me up.
Today in Tokyo, it was different. I was in Ginza, a shopping district of Tokyo known for its expensive shops such as Louis Vutton, Armani and Burberry.

There are many tall buildings filled with shopping stores as well as offices, the main street extends for a few kilometres. I was headed back onto the main streets to see the Sony Building famous for its showroom of gizmos and gadgets some of which haven’t been released yet.

I was still about 20 minutes from my destination when I came across a building scaffold.
A builder ran out of a doorway to my right and joined his four colleagues roadside on my left.

They were all pointing and laughing at one of their crew who was perched in the scaffolding with a nervous smile across his face.
I laughed along with them not really sure what was going on but a few steps later I suddenly felt like I had been swimming. The feeling was very much like that when after you’ve been swimming for a while and then for a time after you’re on dry land you still feel the waves lapping at your body.

I kept walking trying to remember if I’d perhaps had drank too much and then I noticed everyone walking toward me looking up.

I stood still and looked up as well. As soon as I stopped walking I realised it wasn’t me that was wobbly.
The ground was shaking.

I struggled to keep my balance. I noticed an older couple holding on to a railing nervously so I joined them. We were just in front of a building site of which construction hadn’t really begun so there was nothing that could fall directly on top of us.

The old couple were looking nervously up at one particular building to my left.
It had a glass feature that in the shape of ‘S’, I originally thought it was another one of Tokyo’s ultra-contemporary buildings, it was shaking, actually it was doing more than that, it was rocking – back and forth.

That was when the word ‘earthquake’ first popped into my head, I felt like I was in a disaster movie and the climax was fast approaching. If the building fell straight it would’ve been about 10 metres behind me but all that glass would have certainly been dangerous.

The earthquake felt like it lasted an hour but it was only a minute, everyone took out their mobile phones to contact loved ones.
Some people were rooted to the spot looking nervously up at the tall buildings. I waited about 10 minutes to see what would happen, watching the locals for any sign of panic or news.

I decided everyone seemed to be heading back to normal, save the old couple who were still hanging on.
On the way to the Sony Building a crowd had developed around a shop with a television in the window that was showing the news.

It was as though I was in the movies. The northern part of Japan had suffered a tremendous disaster, it seemed that whole coastal towns had disappeared under water due to the tsunami that followed the quake. It was surreal.
When I entered the Sony Building, a customer information person informed me in broken English that the lift was broken and I would have to use the stairs.

One person tried to leave but the staff insisted that it was safer inside, I heard one local say to some tourists in perfect English, “These buildings are designed for this”.
We all waited quietly, a few little murmurs here and there as we watched a hanging sign that described what was on each floor move left to right as the tremors continued. It stopped after a few minutes and we just waited to see what would happen next.

The world outside looked about nervously.
There were announcements coming from across the road at the train station which I couldn’t understand. After half an hour I thought it would be best to head back to my accommodation.

I headed to the nearest subway to find out if trains were running. Walking down the stairs I came across a strange sight, the station was packed, which isn’t unusual for this time of the day, but, not a soul was moving. From the look of things this was one of the safest places to be.
An announcement eventually came over that the trains wouldn’t be running until security checks had been made so I decided to head back home on foot.

Now I think this was probably the safest option – if another tremor hit and I was on a train it could’ve have been disastrous.
On the way home I saw a few broken windows and some rock that had fallen from one building.

A few cracks in the pavement but overall everything seemed alright.

All the train stations had people standing out the entrances telling people the best way home, this was a credit to Japanese organisation.
Queues for busses were at times 50 people long and one particular station easily had 300 people waiting.

But, worse of all was the images that were coming from northern Japan, where the quake had been worse and the tsunami had struck.
Tokyo was ok, but I can’t even imagine what the people who were affected up north were going through, my thoughts are still with the families and people who suffered such devastating loses.