Dokodemo Door!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you're interested in radiation monitoring

Useful link here:

It helps to know some Japanese to read the charts, though. To keep it short: it's only background-level radiation where I am.

The below video shows the aftershocks over two days, some of which were similar in severity to the earthquake which hit Christchurch in New Zealand a few weeks back:

Anyway, I'm off to Nagoya and I expect to be back on Monday.

Do me a favor, would you?

If you ever see some geniuses buying-up potassium iodide tablets in the U.S., please please please punch 'em in the nose for me.

And then, have 'em donate the money to the Red Cross instead.

Get a grip, people.

And the U.S. embassy in Tokyo is, I think, a less-hysterical source of information than whatever you're watching on cable news. I'm getting the ambassador's Twitter feed, U.S. citizens have been advised to follow local authorities, Operation Tomodachi is underway, etc.

This weekend, the spouse and I have plans to visit her parents in Nagoya. We'd promised we'd visit a while ago, and this is when we have a long weekend to do it in.

We see no reason to cancel. We expect to be back by Monday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I haven't been loving the news lately.

Up north, the only thing that's missing is a plague of locusts.

The above is Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture, not Kobe.

The English-language news is something that I'm trying to avoid. The emotionally-laden tone of it is something that really doesn't help.

In Kobe, and in western Japan generally, life is more or less unchanged. There are no electrical cuts. There are no gasoline or food shortages. The transportation system is running as it should. People are going to work. They are going to work grimly, perhaps, but going nonetheless.

Yes, things are bad in the affected area and many people are in trouble; Sendai is not a small city. When I have a stretch of time-off, myself and others are planning to look-in to volunteer opportunities. Until then, it's more or less business as usual. Red Cross donations are always good.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Yeesh. But I'm all right, in case anyone wants to know.

The ground started swaying slightly this afternoon. It felt like standing on the deck of a ship for a few minutes. Soon after, the TV was showing the earthquake epicenter off the coast of Miyagi.

There was a smaller, similar-feeling aftershock a few minutes later.

Not long after that, we were treated to images of fires breaking-out around Tokyo Bay and red tsunami warnings for the entire east coast.

By about 5, we were treated to TV images of an ugly black wave of boiling debris heading inland up in Miyagi. One of the ugliest things I've ever seen.

This is still going on as of now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Was this guy for real? (Bonus: Barely-Related Okinawa tangent)

This was big news today in Japan and I doubt this has made the evening TV broadcasts where you live, but the U.S. State Department's head of the Japan Desk was fired in the past day.

Apparently, he'd made a number of unkind remarks about Okinawans at some kind of college talk. Well, I don't know about you, but if I had that kind of job I would probably feel as if I were under significant pressure to... not engage in such self-implicating jaw-music. In fact, if I had that kind of job, I'd rather think that I would feel as if someone was recording my public statements everyplace I went.

Incidentally, I was recently looking through my scuba-diving pics from Okinawa and this provides me with an excuse to post one....

I do have to say that going there was an interesting and unforgettable experience back a few years ago. In fact, that's when I rented a Nissan Fairlady Z to drive-around in at high speed. And, in case you don't know anything about cars, that was an extremely damn nice kind of convertible to tear-around in. Especially when you're screaming down the island's west coast so that wind can whip-through your hair amid sugarcane fields as far as the eye can see.

Yeah, that's right, I'm a wild guy! Whoo!

Anyway, among the big sights in Okinawa is Shuri-jo, the island's castle. This is a structure which is unique both historically and architecturally:

Shuri castle is the only castle in the world to use elements which are both Chinese and Japanese.

Even though it was devastated in the Battle of Okinawa and restored in 1992, it really is an amazing place to visit today. It's surrounded by walls and fortifications that show distinct Japanese influence, but on the inside, you see elements which show signs of feng shui and colors reminiscent of Ming and Qing dynasty governmental structures. It really is a hell of a hybrid to see up close. In fact, a dinner for a G8 summit was held in the dining room there back in the year 2000.

The islands of Okinawa were, for a while, the independent Ryūkyū Kingdom. The place was nominally-independent until its annexation by Japan in 1879. The Ryūkyū Kingdom was historically unique insofar that they had dual tributary relationships with both China and Satsuma, the southwesternmost daimyo of Japan... the modern prefecture of Kagoshima, in other words. But I'll be able to say more about that, after I've gone to Kagoshima in May...

...oh, wait! I've let the cat out of the bag.