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Think of the storm roaming the sky uneasily
like a dog looking for a place to sleep in,
listen to it growling.
Elizabeth Bishop, Little Exercise
Thought and beauty, like a hurricane or waves, should not know conventional, delimited forms.
Anton Chekhov, The Letter
Let chaos storm!
Let cloud shapes swarm!
I wait for form.
Robert Frost, Pertinax
Why now, blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark!
The storm is up, and all is on the hazard.
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar act 5 scene 1
This is where the typhoon starts
inside the fourth paragraph,
ten city blocks away
Nick Carbo, Typhoon Signal No. 1
An earthquake, a landslip, an avalanche, overtake a man incidentally, as it were - without passion. A furious gale attacks him like a personal enemy, tries to grasp his limbs, fastens upon his mind, seeks to rout his very spirit out of him.
Joseph Conrad, Typhoon
Late summer and September is the typhoon season in Japan. Typhoons are numbered each year starting again from number one. We have just had this season's Typhoon number 12. Its international name was Typhoon Talas but that name was never heard in Japan. The very heavy rain caused landslides and there have been many deaths in western Japan mainly in the area around Wakayama.
Japanese people sometimes ask me about the UK. No earthquakes? No. No typhoons? No. It must be nice to live in such a quiet place...
The word typhoon is a strange word that seems to come partly from the Greek word for whirlwind and partly from the Chinese word for big wind. Perhaps the first time I saw the word was in a comic when I was a small boy. The hero was a big man called Typhoon Tracy. He helped people in trouble and he loved getting into fist fights. Then a few years later I read Typhoon by Joseph Conrad. It was about a ship in the China seas struggling to survive against the relentless power of a huge typhoon. Conrad also often uses the word hurricane. So my image of typhoons was of an almost mythical powerful storm. In Japan typhoons bring strong winds and heavy rain and some train lines temporarily stop all services but deaths on the scale of Typhoon number 12 are very, very rare.
Many Japanese TV stations send young reporters out into the storms to make reports wearing plastic raincoats and safety helmets so the viewers can see the real effects of a storm. I remember walking through water 40 or 50 cm (about 20 inches) deep on the streets in central Tokyo in the middle of a typhoon.
Years ago I was at an aikido summer camp on the Japanese coast when a typhoon hit. After the camp finished I went to the station to catch a train to Tokyo but all trains had stopped. I asked how long the delays would last and I was told, Nobody knows. But last time the trains were stopped for two days. Luckily they started again a few hours later.
I have an essay in a charity e-book put together by some writers and photographers for Tohoku. A pdf version is $9.99. 100% goes to the Japanese Red Cross to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami.