Japan was hit by a record-breaking 8.9 magnitude earthquake in March, triggering powerful tsunami waves and nuclear accidents. It was the most difficult time for the country since World War II.
Kent-born Nic Scanlan-Dyas, a business manager for Deutsche Bank, lives in Tokyo with wife Jacky and their children Savy, 3, and Dany, 4. He tells his story, and how the effects are still being felt.
The first tremor came on Monday. I was at my desk on the 16th floor when the building began to shake. My building is 35 storeys and for it to shake is very unusual. There were three more occasions that week when I was sitting in meetings and the window-blinds started to rattle.
The buildings are well constructed but it's incredibly unnerving. It's like being seasick, but you don't know why. As if you've just stepped off a cruise ship after a month at sea.
On Friday it was on a different scale. The building was moving, the fire doors were banging open and shut.
They always tell you to get under your desk and hold on to something. They have earthquake bags under every desk with a hard hat, dried food, water, a torch and compass inside.
But I didn't follow the plan at all. I found it impossible. I got up and started running around.
Out in the hallway the paintings were slamming against the wall. The floor was rocking from one side to the other. There were other people standing there with panic in their eyes. No one knew how bad it was going to get.
Most tremors stop after a few seconds but this kept going, and even when it stopped the building kept on moving.
The whole thing lasted for 4 minutes, maybe even longer. It was surreal. I didn't know if it was going to stop so I headed for the emergency stairway. I'd done everything wrong. I'd not got my earthquake bag with me, not got the hat…
Out on the street, some people said it was the most serious earthquake they'd experienced in 20 years, others said it's the worst it had ever been. And it didn't stop.
My wife is a lawyer and works about a mile away. When I got to her office she was just coming out of the door. She'd been trapped inside. She said when she looked out of the window she could see the skyscraper next door swaying in and out of view. She thought she was going to die.
Even so, some people didn't even leave their desks. People on the trading floors just kept on working through it. The buildings are built to move and absorb the shock – but you need nerves of steel to believe that when it's happening.
We didn't know where the kids were, whether they were alright. The phone network had gone down and communication was almost impossible.
We started walking home when another tremor hit. It was like being on a waltzer at a fairground. There were waves going through solid ground.
You could see all the buildings swaying. The cages used by window cleaners were crashing against the sides of skyscrapers, sending glass showering down.
There must have been a million people on the streets. The subway had closed. The trains had stopped. Most people who work in Tokyo live a long way outside the centre. They couldn't get home. A lot of people slept in their offices, 20 floors up.
Then the tsunami siren went off. It's like an air raid siren. Crowds of people were gathering outside electrical stores, watching the TVs. Nobody knew what was going to happen or whether the tsunami was going to hit the city.
It took us 90 minutes to walk home. The kids were with their nanny and they were scared, but fine. Every half hour there was another tremor. We live in a wooden house and the sound of the structure creaking and the windows rattling was just horrible.
We put the kids under a table and gave them a DVD player. They spent the whole of Friday night under there while my wife and I watched the news trying to work out what was going on.
Our nanny couldn't get home and couldn't get through to her family. She was terrified. She and my wife ended up opening a bottle of wine. They didn't know what else to do, but I couldn't even drink because I was so worried.
The girls stayed with us in our bed and the nanny spent the night in the spare room. The house was still shaking. None of us slept.
The next day we began to see the footage coming from Fukushima in the north, where the tsunami wave had come ashore and hit the nuclear reactor. I just remember thinking, 'How bad can this get?'
We didn't know if the reactor was going to explode. We didn't know which way the wind was going to blow any radiation. We didn't have any information. The news we were hearing from our friends and relatives outside Japan was much more sensational than we were getting at home, where there was a deliberate attempt to play things down and stop people from panicking.
But our friends and relatives outside the country thought Tokyo was going to be razed. Our parents phoned and said we had to get out.
My wife's dad lives in New Zealand. He reserved us four tickets to fly there on Sunday. They were NZ$20,000 (almost £10,000) for the four of us, and we had to decide whether to spend this huge sum of money or wait it out. All the time the tremors were getting worse and we didn't want to get to the point where it was too late so decided to leave as a family.
On Saturday the roads to the airport were gridlocked. People were taking eight hours to make what should be a half-hour journey. But on Sunday Tokyo was like a ghost town. There was nobody on the streets and the roads were empty.
We caught the plane and when we told my mum we had touched down in New Zealand she started crying with relief. I stayed there for two weeks, and all the time we were watching the news, trying to decide whether it was safe to go back.
My gut instinct was not to go back, not to leave them. It was like walking back into a war zone but I had to go. The earthquake was exciting in an odd way, because of the adrenaline. Leaving my family was the worst moment of all. Back in Tokyo there was a real sense of camaraderie. Most of the wives had gone, so it was a couple of weeks of male bonding. Some really good friendships were formed.
A lot of people have never returned. There has been a huge exodus of ex-pats. Tourism has flatlined. And the economy in the Fukushima prefecture has been destroyed.
Houses are still buried in mud. People are still living in tents and community centres. There's a lot of work needs to be done and no one will buy any vegetables or produce from there because of the radiation.
It's so sad. They tried to hold a farmers' market in Tokyo a few weeks ago and still no one would buy anything. It's not going to happen.
Everything has had to change. We can no longer drink the tap water. We import most of our food from Australia. We've bought in a year's supply of rice because there have been warnings about the level of radiation in next year's harvest. They've rationed the power supply, so there's no air conditioning on the subway trains.
We were tempted to leave, but our jobs and lives are here. Everyone says it will happen again. And every time I think about it, it terrifies me.
Nic Scanlan-Dyas was talking to Simon Freeman.
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