By Phil Labonte
- Phil Labonte
- The scene in the streets of Tokyo shortly after this week’s earthquake.
Our rock band All That Remains was in Japan for the third time. We had played the day before in Osaka and we took the bullet train from there to Tokyo only a few hours before the quake struck.
Due to travel we didn’t have time to go to the hotel before we had to sound check in Tokyo so we were at the venue when it happened. My first thought was honestly one of nervous excitement. All That Remains is from the east coast and I had never felt an earthquake. The building was shaking, light fixtures swaying with significant force, doors rattling. I didn’t realize how serious the situation was at first until our contact at Creative Man (the booking agent in Japan) started shuffling us to the stairs. You could see the concern on his face.
Once in the street I began to understand just how significant the quake was. The street was full of people, some laughing nervously, some even crying. By the time we got down to the street the first shock was done but within a few minutes there was a very large aftershock. From the street level you could see skyscrapers swaying back and forth.
We remained outside for at least an hour while the structural integrity of the building was checked by local authorities. When they told us it was safe to go back inside we walked up the stairs and almost as soon as we got to the venue we felt another very significant aftershock. In the area that we are in there was no real damage to structures and the people seemed to return to normal quite quickly.
The following morning seemed to be a fairly run-of-the-mill day. But when you turned on the news and saw the damage in Sendai it was clear this was anything but typical. It’s now 36 or so hours since the major quake and as I type this I am feeling aftershocks. A nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was damaged and there was an explosion. The Japanese government is distributing iodine to local residents and has evacuated thousands of residents who live within 12 miles of the area.
I know that I, as well as millions of other people effected by this disaster, will never forget how it felt during and for days after.
Phil Labonte is the vocalist for All that Remains. You can visit their site here.
You can see Labonte’s Twitter updates here.
You can see band photos here.