Tonight's topic of discussion was (rather unsurprisingly) the earthquake and what measures the school is taking to increase the kids safety.
It was all going quite well and reassuringly (the school has many and varied emergency plans for all sorts of eventualities, the school is registered as an evacuation centre etc etc) and we were just sighing with relief when the JHS principal (a blow in- you have to be very very lucky to get the principal as a VIP to your meeting and it was our turn this year) casually mentioned
"Of course, if the dams go there's nothing we can do to help."
Panic passed through the room like a jolt of electricity.
Of course we know there are dams up river of us. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a river in Japan without a dam somewhere up river. And we know we have three big dams up river because we can hear the water release sirens every time we get big rains. There is a whole system in place for the safe release of water to stop the dams bursting and overflowing and whatever else rogue dams do.
But I guess none of us had ever thought of an earthquake taking out the dam wall altogether.
In that case predictions are that a wall of water and debris would wash straight down the mountain, through the towns of Azumi, Hata, Azusagawa, on to Matsumoto city, decimate a path through the entire city and finally stop at the foot of Joyama. It is estimated to reach the third floor of the Prefectural government building.
The principal saw our faces and rapidly reassured us that simulations suggest Okubo would be untouched- what with being half way up a mountain and all so we shouldn't worry.
Well except worry about our kids I guess who will be in a two story building on the flat lands as the school won't release them in case of an earthquake.
Seriously, I did not need one more worry to add to my long list of things to panic about in this disaster prone country.
On the upside, I believe Japan is devoid of poisonous spiders. If that's wrong there's no need to tell me otherwise.
Ignorance is bliss.