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We are the lucky ones in Tokyo where sirens wail, the wind makes a noise like aeroplane engines on the window and the rain angles in like sheets of glass 

Surging waves
Surging waves generated by Typhoon Hagibis hit against a breakwater at a port in the town of Kiho Credit: FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA-EFE/REX

An earthquake, tornado and typhoon, all in one day. Welcome, people of Surrey, and Scottish rugby, to one of the most spectacular extreme weather events modern Japan has seen: a violent storm in the middle of a World Cup where Ireland somehow took to the field against Samoa in Fukuoka - a safe distance from the mayhem rolling in on Tokyo.

The four All Blacks seen out in the drizzle in Tokyo’s answer to Canary Wharf before the weather turned vile would at least know what it is to live in a country where nature can attack populations with such ferocity. Christchurch, on the southern island, still bears the wounds of the 2011 quake. But we Europeans are not used to being told to stay indoors all day, stock up on supplies, keep a flashlight handy and not panic if the building groans and shakes.

Anyone from Gloucester or Leicester or Bath who spent a fortune coming out here to watch England settle the Pool C placings with France was entitled to feel aggrieved at having a dream trip ruined. There was no refuge in sight-seeing. Stepping outside would have courted disaster as the rain attacked buildings with astonishing force and Typhoon Hagibis announced its arrival in the vast Tokyo metropolis by slamming into the city and whipping through the streets.

As the siege wore on, the magnitude of the threat faced by Japanese people in vulnerable locations began to displace pity for two lost rugby matches (England-France and New Zealand-Italy). World Rugby’s underwhelming efforts to reschedule or relocate are not excused by the climactic turmoil that befell eastern Japan on this Saturday. There was still the sense that more could have been done. Yet, as Hagibis claimed its first fatality, rivers swelled to bursting and the authorities advised people in one district of Tokyo to evacuate all buildings less than three-storeys high to escape flooding, it would have taken a cold heart not to see that rugby is trivial by comparison.

In the hotel opposite, you could see a perfect gallery of guests, each confined to their room, each making constant trips to the window to scan the streets below and study the horizon. It was like looking into a doll’s house of dread. As night fell, humanity abandoned the wind-lashed streets, leaving only the tail-lights of a few deluded motorists to remind us that greater Tokyo has a population of 13 million - almost all of it now hiding indoors.

Takeshita Street in Tokyo stands deserted as  Typhoon Hagibis strikes Credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

From the 29th floor of a “typhoon and earthquake-proof” hotel you feel safe, because of the technology, and imperilled on account of the height. The modern smartphone addiction becomes a mania. Typhoon trajectories become compelling. A disturbance making “landfall” turns into a fixation. When the real rain starts, it cascades down your window as if someone is pouring it from above using buckets.

The Japan Times, a sober news organisation, started a blog headed ‘Disaster Information.’ That made you pay attention. It laid out the facts. Japan’s 19th typhoon of the season made landfall over the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture around 7pm, preceded by a level five “special warning for rain” - the highest on the Meteorological Agency’s scale. In the Hachioji region one firefighter told the newspaper: “No one remembers water having risen this far.” Dams were opened to release water in the hope of foiling floods.

Around 8.30pm in Tokyo many of us lost our typhoon virginity. Sirens began to wail, the wind made a noise like aeroplane engines on your window, the rain angled in like sheets of glass, cutting into trees, their branches thrashing in the gale. By now it was an alarming spectacle, a troubling experience, with surreal accompanying TV images of Ireland playing Samoa, and growing nausea. 

Japan's Jiwon Koo carries team-mate James Moore in a flooded walkway at a stadium in Tokyo at practice for Sunday's match against Scotland Credit: Yuki Sato/Kyodo News via AP

One step up from the thump of the wind is a demented trumpet sound as the surfaces it attacks groan and whine. A few inches of glass separate you from being blown away like a leaf. There is a point when you are sure the windows are going to come in.

By then a 5.7 earthquake had given the Kanto region a shake, and 270,000 and rising fast homes in Tokyo were without electricity. An earthquake and a typhoon in a single day? Even the weather-hardened Japanese were taken aback by that.

As the corridors of the hotel began to heave and groan, like a ship in a storm, rugby and legal challenges seemed a distant memory. South-east of here, the Yokohama stadium where Japan were due to face Scotland was standing in the teeth of this assault, with rain gushing down. In your room, you notice the glass in the windows bending as the wind goes about its work.

In the bar in the hotel’s atrium, rugby fans drank beer in low light and waited for it to pass. We were the lucky ones. Out there in the city, a terrible danger was howling through Tokyo.