Thursday, 24 March 2011

Glowing in the dark - a Tokyo update

 Sitting waiting at immigration in Shinagawa tends to be a tedious affair.  A disproportionate number of people in there is always sick - I assume people wait till they need to call in sick anyway & take the time to renew their visa, apply for a reentry permit etc.  Yesterday was no exception.  The tedium of avoiding the exhalations of people not covering their mouths as they coughed was broken with a news flash on the television that Tokyo water now contains radiation at a level unsafe for infants to drink.  It came as no great surprise as the US embassy had given an alert two days ago that they would supply iodine (to minimize the dangers of radiation) to all US nationals.  I assume that the US must have known that the combination of wind and rain would likely result in radiation... which means I can only assume Japan may have had a fair idea too... but in reality announcing it is going to happen probably encourages doomsday mentality....  There is plenty of evidence to suggest we are not getting the full story.  That said though,  I'm not overly concerned by it.  Though I might be if I were or had an infant.  The Japanese diet is high in iodine - so many seaweeds, and fish.  We had saba (mackerel) for breakfast this morning with kombu (kelp?) in the stock and cut through it as well.   I've told Hiro until he gives up smoking there is not a whole lot of point being concerned of the potential for cancer from radiation.... He agrees.
When I left here yesterday, I bought I bought an all day inner Tokyo JR pass  (Tokunai kippu) with the intention of seeing how the power restrictions are impacting on the Tokyo night scape.  It was cold and wet - still like January weather - so I didn't stay out to see true after dark - but you can get some sense.  I will see if I can dig up some old photos later for comparison.   I am not sure how much arm twisting is going on to achieve this, but there is a remarkable effort to reduce power consumption.  The city is still functioning, though endeavouring to use less power to do so.

Reduced operating hours at Shinagawa station.  I imagine all of these
would usually be open till at least 9pm.
Girls dressed up for graduation - life goes on as normal for
most people.

The sky was more yellow/green that this photo shows. The foreboding
cataclysmic-like sky would indicate a likely hail storm in Australia.

A poster advertising cherry blossoms in Kakunodate Akita.
Unless the JR line is restored they won't be getting many visitor

Shinjuku dori looking very dark  - this is a serious neon strip

Near the south east exit

NTT Docomo's building in Shinjuku  not lit up.

Notices next to the advertising boards saying they are
not being lit up to save power.

Train stoppages at Shinjuku station

Fuji-ya corner in Ginza - looking up to Mitsukoshi.
If you look carefully you can see Fuji-ya written.
It's usually one of the most recognizable corners in Japan.

All the Tohoku travel posters have disappeared from JR stations.
The shinkansen from Tokyo to Sendai is  out for weeks, at the least.
It's a catastrophe for the tourist industry for areas otherwise
unaffected by the tsunami and earthquake. The coming weeks should
be the busiest in the year for many areas.
From Tokyo City View, Roppongi Hills - the lights aren't all out! 


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the update on what is really happening in Tokyo - unfortunatly we are stuck with Australian sensationalis media reports.

My husband and I are due to travel to Tokyo in 4 weeks for our first ever overseas trip. We have booked a place in Shinjuku - so really appreciated your pics.

Will keep checking in with you!


Cecilia said...

In 4 weeks things should be better than they are now.
Shinjuku the lights are down, but things are functioning no problem. I am not sure that the Narita express (the most convenient way to get to Shinjuku from Narita).will be running to Shinjuku by then or not. If not, you can always catch a limousine bus or the Keisei line.

If you have any questions - feel free to ask :)