A day in Tokyo Published by Aftonbladet on 19/03/11

The threat from Fukushima still lays over Tokyo.

The atomic crisis is not yet under control, the winds are turning in a Southern direction and the Swedish Foreign Department are asking Swedish citizens present in the capital to take iodine tablets.

But when Aftonbladet’s contributor Elin Lindqvist strolls around in the neighbourhood of Shibuya, she does not notice any mass fleeing.

The milk has returned to the shops and more and more people dare to spend time outside.

It is as if the longing for an everyday life has become stronger than the threat from the nuclear plant.

Yuko Enomoto lives by herself in a small apartment close to Shibuya in central Tokyo. She is a writer and a journalist and she has no plans to leave the city whatsoever. She is worried about not being able to do anything for those who have been severely affected by the tsunami and she thinks that the Western media has exaggerated the risk for radioactive particles.

After a Saturday in her company, I am inclined to agree with her. It seems as if the Tokyoites chose to defy the nuclear threat. The hope of regaining an everyday life seems to have come back and I recognize the Tokyo that I have spent so much time in.

In the morning, when I first head out into Shinjuku, the streets are deserted and it scares me to see the large stores closed and the normally overcrowded subway cars empty.

But as the day goes on, more and more people head out and it all seems like a most normal Saturday afternoon in spring with Sakura waiting to bloom.

Yuko guides me through her daily life. She points out the speaker system that broadcasts instructions when an earthquake occurs and from her room she looks out over a school yard that is used as an assembly point. But she never went outside that day when the earth shook hard. Most people chose to stay inside and wait for the quake to stop. Only 20 people were assembled in the schoolyard (on March11th).

Yuko feels safe at home. Her apartment building is made of concrete and she has no bookshelves or any other item that could fall down and hurt her. She is generally very calm. She does not believe that she receives all the correct information from the authorities but she chooses to trust her gut instincts. And she is not the only one to do so.

Yuko shows me her closest grocery store and she lights up when she realizes that all the shelves have filled up again.

She quickly paces up to the milk shelves that have been empty for many days, but now the cartons lay on top of one another. However, it is not the normal assortment that is available; there is only one type in stock: kisuki nyugyo, pasteurized milk from the Shimane region.

We continue our walk through Shibuya. The only shop that is completely closed and that people pass with disappointed gazes is H&M. We pass by the Mizuho bank that can no longer allow its customers to take money out.

A young woman makes her way in and takes a few quick steps towards the ATM but she immediately gets escorted away.

The bank does not want to comment about the restrictions but there are rumours saying that they have given out too much cash to help victims in the earthquake. A beautiful thought that somehow does not seem like the entire truth.

Yuko explains that the planned electricity cuts are not been executed as originally announced. She has not noticed a single power cut since the earthquake occurred and therefore chooses to turn off the electricity herself for a few hours every day.

Walter, owner of a hostess club called Executive club, explains that all western girls who work for him have left the country or at least the city. He can only hope that they will come back.

Elin Lindqvist

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