Ex-pat Michael Grist, aged 30, from Egerton, lives and works in Japan as a writer and teacher.

I walked through the residential streets from the office to Saginomiya train station.

As I had guessed, the trains were not running.

At the top of the steps into the station a single black and yellow string had been tied.

A few people walked up, over it, then came back down, clearly rebuffed by station staff.

By the station entrance was a line of people.

At first I thought they must be an orderly queue for the station, but found instead they were waiting to use a public phone.

I checked my cell phone — still calls weren't going through.

I considered joining the few people milling around nearby to wait for the trains to start, but decided to start walking home instead. The distance is only about 10km, and I figured I'd be home in a few hours.

While walking on roads beside the train tracks I sent emails to family and friends, updated Facebook, and generally reassured people I was fine, everything around me was fine.

The most damage I saw was a few fallen roof slates.

My girlfriend though was quite worried, and urged me to get home faster by taxi.

I started looking out for one, but they were all full.

In the two hours I spent walking I only saw one that was vacant, and a family ran over and hailed it before I could.

Soon, I joined a large mass of people, all trudging home, moving with a silent solidarity.

I bought flowers to reassure my girlfriend, then arrived at my fourth floor apartment.

Inside was a mess; everything on shelves had been shaken down, though luckily the television hadn't fallen.

Most of our glasses and several plates had smashed on the floor and in the sink.

My girlfriend arrived, and we cleaned up, then put on the news.

Footage of the most destructive tsunamis was now coming in, along with the death tolls.

We started to get worried.

We better eat, we thought, and pack a bag with food and clothes, and fill the bath with water, and get ready to run if we have to. We didn't know if another bigger earthquake might come at any moment.

We sat at the table watching the news, chugging down food, debating about whether we should evacuate to the car park nearby or to a local park, working ourselves up.

Looking back now it seems a pretty fevered, maybe over the top reaction.

But with constant low aftershocks and footage of the disaster on TV, the threat of more earthquakes to come, plus all the worried calls and emails from family and friends overseas, it was easy to get hyped up.

I checked online for earthquake advice, and found that the best advice is to just duck and cover.

So we cancelled our plans to flee, allocated ourselves a table each to duck under, and settled in to watch the news of the disaster unfold in Miyagi.

To find out more about Michael's work go to www.michaeljohngrist.com