Is the Japanese Earthquake a sign of “2012”?

Strong earthquakes hit the Tohoku Region in the afternoon of March 11, triggering several meter high tsunami waves that caused massive destruction and loss of human lives in areas along the Pacific coast of eastern Japan, especially in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures.

The earthquake itself caused major damage in areas close to the epicenter, as well as scattered fires and damage across the Tohoku and eastern Kanto area, although it did not cause widespread damage in any major city as seen in Kobe in 1995. The tsunami, however, caused extensive damage beyond imagination in coastal areas along the Pacific coast of northeastern Honshu.

Two nuclear reactors at the coast of Fukushima Prefecture suffered damage from the earthquake and tsunami. Authorities have issued evacuation orders to people living within 20 kilometers of the first reactor and within 10 kilometers of the second reactor. Prospective travelers to Japan should keep an eye on the evolving matter.

The damage to the nuclear plants is also causing a power shortage in Eastern Japan. As a result, rolling blackouts are carried out in the Greater Tokyo Region from today for an undetermined period of time. Power is switched off for 3-hour periods in rotation between five areas from 6:20am to 10pm. Most of central Tokyo is excluded from the blackouts.

Some areas of Tokyo and the following major tourist destinations will be affected by the rolling blackouts: Yokohama, Kamakura, Hakone, the Fuji Five Lake region, the Izu Peninsula and Nikko.

All major airports (except Sendai Airport) are open and operating. Transportation between Narita Airport and central Tokyo is affected by a reduction and cancellations of train and bus services.

Due to the power shortage, many train lines in the Greater Tokyo Region are operating at reduced frequencies or stop service during certain periods of the day. Some lines are stopped for the entire day.

Most trains in the Tohoku Region remain out of service for an undetermined time.Trains are running normally in the other parts of Japan, including the Kansai Region around Osaka and Kyoto, the Chubu Region around Nagoya (except some parts of Shizuoka and Yamanashi that are also affected by the blackouts), Kyushu, Shikoku, Hokkaido and Okinawa.

For the above reasons, prospective tourists are advised not to visit the Tohoku Region and to reconsider traveling to the Greater Tokyo Region as long as the power blackouts are carried out. Visits to Western Japan should remain little affected by the disaster.

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