My Japan experience.
I had not slept on my flight to Japan and now night was day.
The office manager for the delegation and his wife met me at Narita airport and accompanied me to my spotless, cosy hotel in Chiyoda-ku, popular with international embassy staff and a five-minute walk from the office.
We had a long chat over a drink at the hotel when I was warned about daily earthquakes amongst other things, usually only up to 4 on the Richter scale, only enough to shake buildings and without damage.
Celebrating my arrival
I could have crashed into bed, but I went on to meet all the office staff who had planned a big night out to celebrate my arrival.
They tried and failed to get me legless, despite my not knowing that it is Japanese etiquette that glasses must continuously be replenished with sake.
They tried their best to shock and awe with a meal of horrors, but I determined I would face up to the challenges and consumed live prawns, live tiny crabs, and other live fish, none fresher, as if I ate them every day.
I would have the last laugh though I did have a sake hangover the next day and never touched it again.
The hotel dinner menu had a mix of Japanese and European fare, retaining the touching Japanese custom of offering a small gift after each meal.
All buildings are constructed to the highest anti-earthquake standards and all furniture is attached to walls for extra safety, apart from televisions which are perched on large circular metal bases on the floor, meaning it is unnecessary to hide under a table from falling debris.
Within two weeks there was a huge earthquake 6.9 on the Richter scale centred on Tokyo which normally flattens third-world countries.
It starts with the most deafening thunder ever, lasting 20 seconds as the earth crashes below, before the physical effects begin.
The earth growled.
The hotel began to sway back and forth so much that from my seventh-floor suite I feared it would crash into the high-rise building opposite.
The TV rocked back and forth on its circular pedestal without overturning or breaking.
I was in my lounge when it started and my LA earthquake training told me I must retrieve my passport from my bedside table next door in case I did not survive, so my body would be recognised.
It was impossible to walk.
As soon as my foot touched the ground, I was propelled high into walking on air meaning in took an age to reach anywhere.
Passport retrieved there was not enough time to get out of the building, so I stood under the door frame to my room knowing that it is the strongest part of any building.
All told it lasted over two minutes and one person died in Tokyo from a falling neon light.
There would be an inquest into that.
When I could finally relax with only small aftershocks, I waited in vain for a phone call from any member of office staff to check that I was alright, but none came.
It was one of the rare moments of my life when I felt completely alone.
After that I made up an emergency rucksack of water, battery operated radio, first-aid kit, and spare clothes in case of an emergency.
Later I learnt that the earthquake moved vertically as well as horizontally, the worst, which explained the walking in the air.
There was work on one building on my way to the office.
It is normal to have a man outside with the sole purpose to ensure that any passerby is safely escorted outside the building to avoid an accident, despite building sites being immaculate.
All lifts used by the public have a lift attendant to voice cheery polite greetings and press buttons.
At the time Japan had a 1% unemployment rate and it was understandable how, with jobs being surplus to needs in European eyes.