I arrived at work in Shibuya last Wednesday (September 21st) fairly wet and unaware that a typhoon was on its way and scheduled to hit Tokyo around 5-6pm that evening. As the day wore on more and more students called up the school to say they would be absent. To his credit one of my afternoon students made the effort to come in the rain but when his lesson finished at 4pm I heard a rumour that our company would close at 5pm. While waiting for confirmation my three colleagues and I had fun watching the overly umbrella-conscious Japanese people trying to walk with their umbrella up. Such a losing battle but they always perisist with it resulting in their hair staying dry at best which I suppose is very important for women. Broken umbrellas could be seen piled up on the streets all over the place in the aftermath of the typhoon.
At 5pm a fax was sent to all schools saying they had been closed. Fairly pointless in my opinion as the typhoon was just about at its strongest then. Many companies sent their employees home a lot earlier to ensure they got home that day given that the typhoon would cripple the train timetable. Us teachers left while the Japanese staff rang students to say the school had closed. We got to an absolute jam-packed chaotic JR Shibuya station just as the Yamanote line had been stopped to which Mark suggested going for a beer. What a great idea I thought as we had finished four hours earlier than usual so my mind was already thinking about a big drinking session! Just crossing a couple of roads was a journey in itself with the winds really blowing a gale. I was only holding my umbrella by my side but it was hard work just holding on to it during those moments!
Two and a half hours later we went back to Shibuya station and took a Metro line home with very little trouble. I found out the following day that a big truck has blown over right outside our workplace given the extreme nature of the typhoon. Similar to the big earthquake back in March we now have a few extra make-up lessons to do with students that wouldn’t have come anyway on that day. Our company would have been better either sending us home earlier or telling us to just ‘sit out’ the typhoon in the schools and the students wouldn’t have came as it was an act of god.