Before John and I came here we were hearing all sorts of things about how there wasn't going to be enough power in Japan this summer because of the nuclear plants that are off line. We heard that there might be rolling blackouts in the afternoons or that trains might not be running normally and that it was basically going to be a disaster.
Well, electricity is a big concern, but so far there have not been any black outs. Instead, campaigns have started up, and everyone is voluntarily conserving as much power as possible (in the majority of cases) in order prevent black outs and to allow trains to function normally. This is especially important to a lot of tech companies because they say that having to turn computers and servers off for 3 hours would basically be devastating to their work. (John can explain this better than me). So, this electricity saving campaign has been named Setsuden. I don't think anyone really loves it, but it's better than the alternative.
I've been taking pictures of everything I can to illustrate it, but I always seem to miss the TV screens that show current electricity usage. Earlier in the summer consumption was at about 70-75% of what can currently be provided during peak times, but as it's gotten hotter consumption has increased to about 85-88%. I haven't seen numbers hit the 90's yet, but I'm sure it's coming.
This is the main logo for the campaign that we see all over the place. Lights are being left off as much as possible. Air conditioning is being used sparingly, government offices (including schools) are required to keep it at 28 c which is 82 f and many other offices are leaving theirs that high voluntarily!
This is one of the subway ticket machines. They've turned about half of them off to use less power.
Some vending machines have been turned off completely (notice the tape over the places you would put money in) while other are now set to turn off at night or to not light up.
Almost all down escalators (and some up) have been turned off.
There are also many encouraging signs. This one says Genki for Japan, which sort of means health or energy for Japan.
A sign at a restaurant.
Well, you can't really read the sign hanging up here (blame John's iPhone), but it says Cheer Up Japan, and has a lot of signatures on it.
At Shrines, people will often buy blocks of wood and write wishes on them. This one isn't in perfect English, but the sentiment is clear.
So, I'm not sure if I've covered everything you're all wondering about what it's like here in regards to the recent disaster. But if you have questions or want to know more, just leave a comment!