Although not remotely at the ferocious levels of destruction that have devastated the Bahamas this last week, the typhoon that hit the Kanto region of Japan on Sunday ( including Tokyo, Yokohama and Kamakura, the city we live in), was still violent enough to knock power out for a million people, injure dozens, and kill a handful of individuals unfortunate to be outside in the body smashing winds at the wrong time.
I hadn’t even been aware a typhoon was coming – despite the multitude of meteorological updates and eventually, a warning that appeared on my phone: but I was too busy getting through the first few days back at work after the calm bliss of the summer holidays and then helping Duncan prepare for a weekend in Tokyo filming for Spoiled Identity ( a ridiculous and hilarious political campfest), which involved a great deal of logistics, people management and creative energy; though the skies were quite brooding and swollen at first, visible through the windows of the old municipal building we were shooting in, this soon passed into almost intolerably scorching sunshine – a corollary of the incoming storm – but which made you believe that there couldn’t possibly be a major typhoon on its way: had you only believed in your senses, you would have stayed put.
Soon the messages were picked up on everyone’s phones, though. It’s coming. The trains are stopping: Japan Railways, along with many other institutions and corporations, having finally put aside their former fight-on-til-it-is—too-late-samurai fatalism, which used to just leave commuters and office workers miserable and stranded for hours in the spirit of Making The Highest Effort, no matter the circumstances; now they actually suspend their train services ; people are sent home from work earlier; there is a thread of common sense ( we were quite surprised, actually, that many restaurants were not open for business at 5pm; already shuttering down despite the searing sunlight as they were heeding the weather warnings), so it was wise of us also to cancel certain scenes, despite the great inconvenience to some, and get back to our house in Kamakura just as the first rain drops fell ( with a certain effort , it felt to, me at first, as if they were being squeezed out from an arid void, the preliminary to a huge and raging diagonal downpour)
The cat always gets slightly excited when a storm comes, panting slightly on the balcony, ; stirring with the drama. But D and I barely think about the approach of a typhoon ( is this reckless ?) ; inured ; because unlike most devastating cyclones and hurricanes, at least where we live, you rarely feel under threat as long as you are inside and battened down. Probably we should have put our shutters on, as our neighbour had done (I noticed the next day), as when we were awakened by the terrific noise and wind pressure around 3am that was so intense nobody could have possibly have slept through it, at times it sounded as though the glass might actually shatter. We could not have opened the windows at this moment ;all you can do is lie still in your beds and let it rage; sheltered in semi-sleep and deafening wind dreams until the morning ( D went down the debris strewn hill to the station at 10am, much later than usual, but all train services had been cancelled ; by the time I also later went into work in the evening there was partial service), but walking home, you could see , and smell, how powerful the winds must have been.
At the top, in the third picture, you can see how a tall cedar tree had toppled directly onto the entrance of the Meigetsuin Temple ( famous for hydrangeas and irises in June; maple leaves and ginkgo in November); it had been closed down to visitors. As I climbed the hill, the thick air was in a strange, dense thresh of whipped up leaves and tropical night heat; a weird sickness of stamens, and the freshwater of rushing streams and underground systems; grass, and dead flowers and broken branches hanging off at the trunk; this morning, the unusual heatwave clinging to the air in the wake of typhoon , I went on a cycle ride around the neighbourhood to see if there had been any damage. It was minimal, in international terms, but all forest entrance had been closed off because of fallen logs ); there was a heavy stillness in the atmosphere; few people.