Sunday, 29 January 2012

speaking too soon....

The other day I was heralding the tapering off of earthquakes.
I spoke too soon. It was soon followed by another big earthquake in NZ and then more here.
I am not impressed to see Yamanashi turning up on here.
Yamanashi is where Mt Fuji is and 
Mt Fuji is dormant, not extinct.
The last eruption was in the early 1700s.

With a list of tremors like this for a day, one would hope that there is major research into tapping seismic energy...

00:02 JST 29 Jan 201223:58 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM2.91
22:38 JST 28 Jan 201222:34 JST 28 Jan 2012Miyagi-ken OkiM3.01
21:48 JST 28 Jan 201221:44 JST 28 Jan 2012Iwate-ken OkiM4.93
16:20 JST 28 Jan 201216:15 JST 28 Jan 2012Ishigakijima KinkaiM4.72
16:15 JST 28 Jan 201216:11 JST 28 Jan 2012Fukushima-ken OkiM4.31
15:10 JST 28 Jan 201215:05 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM2.61
14:30 JST 28 Jan 201214:21 JST 28 Jan 2012Ibaraki-ken OkiM4.94
14:24 JST 28 Jan 201214:21 JST 28 Jan 2012Ibaraki-ken OkiM4.94
14:08 JST 28 Jan 201214:03 JST 28 Jan 2012Gifu-ken Hida-chihoM3.22
13:24 JST 28 Jan 201213:19 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM2.71
12:50 JST 28 Jan 201212:45 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM2.71
12:38 JST 28 Jan 201212:33 JST 28 Jan 2012Ibaraki-ken OkiM3.71
11:03 JST 28 Jan 201210:58 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM2.61
09:43 JST 28 Jan 201209:39 JST 28 Jan 2012Nagano-ken NambuM2.41
09:26 JST 28 Jan 201209:22 JST 28 Jan 2012Iwate-ken OkiM5.64
08:11 JST 28 Jan 201208:07 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM3.31
08:07 JST 28 Jan 201208:04 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM4.13
07:56 JST 28 Jan 201207:48 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM2.71
07:54 JST 28 Jan 201207:43 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM5.55-
07:51 JST 28 Jan 201207:46 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM4.13
07:48 JST 28 Jan 201207:43 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM5.55-
07:44 JST 28 Jan 201207:39 JST 28 Jan 2012Yamanashi-ken Tobu-FujigokoM5.04
04:11 JST 28 Jan 201204:07 JST 28 Jan 2012Kumamoto-ken Kumamoto-chihoM2.22
04:00 JST 28 Jan 201203:56 JST 28 Jan 2012Kumamoto-ken Kumamoto-chihoM2.82
01:10 JST 28 Jan 201201:06 JST 28 Jan 2012Ibaraki-ken OkiM3.61

Sunday, 22 January 2012


At the bottom of Asukayama park, along the railway lines near Oji station is a charming little row of little bars that in cherry blossom and hydrangea season double as places selling food to passers by. I've never been to any of the places there, without being seedy they are more like places where salary men stop off on their way between the station and home.

Yesterday, early morning the whole row was gutted by fire. The row itself was off limits, but from the station it was clear that it had all gone. One person who lived there was badly injured. I haven't heard about other casualties.  Between the Kanto earthquake,  World War II bombings, and just regular accidents,  fire has been very unkind to the historical charm of Tokyo.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Which amount of snow stops the trains?

Which amount of snow stops the trains?
Picture A taken near Kazuno-Hanawa on the Hanawa line?   OR

B.   Tokyo yesterday snow falling but not collecting on the ground.

And the answer is


A few flakes of snow yesterday and the subways were in chaos with delays and cancelled trains.  Most subways turn into suburban above ground trains once they get out of Tokyo so even though they are mostly underground, snow above ground can cause problems. Tokyo is not designed to cope with snow. Because it rarely snows cars don't have winter tyres and any amount of snow invariably causes traffic accidents.
(The photo above is JR rather than subway, the photo below is of subway delays,  but if I took a picture in the subway, it would be underground & you wouldn't see how little snow there actually is.)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dieting Japanese style

Occasionally these adds pop up on my facebook page.
She was a fat fat 40.9kgs and now.... she's lost 2.6kg AND 7.3cm from her waist.
I'd better check myself in.
(The numbers are for)

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Beware the terrorists

                                                            Beware of terrorists...                                  
                                     I don't think any terrorist would want to wade through 
metre deep snow 60 km from the Japan Sea coast in the
foothills of the mountains between Iwate & Akita to attack a town
that has a rapidly dwindling population of aging pickle makers.
Beware the corrupt pork barrelling politician getting kickbacks 
for making signs might have been more apt. 

Snow at the shrine

TL - berries that I don't know the name of
TC - omikuji - fortune slips tied onto branches that are now mostly under snow.
R - a new year fire - people bring back their old shrine mementos / new year greetings decorations etc from the the previous year and burn them.
BC - gohei (paper zigzags)hanging in front of a shrine for a stone
BL - hand washing / purification water (there was ice on it, I decided my hands were pure enough).
C - The tori & shrine.

Snow in Odate & Takanosu

Posted by Picasa

Snow on the way up

All the pictures are taken from outside the train, except the one of the window  which was  the view from inside.  Pictures are from  Morioka to Odate to Takanosu.

New Year

We arrived back from Akita last night.
New Year was toned down this year.
Hiro's brother died unexpectedly in November and by custom there are no new year celebrations. There is no New Year card sending or receiving  - a "cold winter greeting, death in the family" card goes out and the correct response is to send no greeting card for New Year.  It seems very harsh - more than ever people need to know that there are people out there thinking of them.... I don't know the origin of the custom, but I dislike it.  There is no making or eating of traditional "osechi' New Year foods - which didn't bother me particularly as I can't get excited about eating cold foods to celebrate in minus temperatures , no annual mochi (rice cake) making.  For some reason it's not OK to make osechi, but it's Ok to eat it the osechi that thoughtful neighbours give. (knowing that it's not ok to make them). There is also no (Shinto) shrine visiting (though the Buddhist grave visiting is encouraged - though with the snow and the location of the grave at the top of a long stairway up the side of a mountain - we opted out)   Hiro & I popped into the local shrine anyway on the way back from Hiro restocking his tobacco, obviously we weren't meant to though as I stepped in a snow covered gutter on the way back and fell into a snow hole a metre deep... very fortunately I didn't fall as far as the water.  Hiro's parent's burned incense burned the whole time we were there.

The snow in Odate, and the whole Japan Sea side,  is particularly heavy this year. I was quite excited to be taking the Hanawa train line through the mountains again since there has been so much snow.  Alas it blizzarded the whole way, both ways, and we could only see the snow that was stuck to the window.

 Hiro's mother was beside herself with a mix of fright, shock and disbelief to find Hiro's father up on the roof  peak shovelling snow.  He thought it was a bit of an over reaction until the evening news reported a 37 year old man in the south of Akita dying because he fell shovelling snow from the roof.... Seeing that he decided he wouldn't get back on the roof . I have mentioned to them before it makes Hiro's and my life much easier if they stay healthy...  I doubt I will be winning prizes for filial piety, but it's true.

2011 wasn't the best year for Japan.  May the year of the dragon be brighter and better.

Happy New Year to all.

Beer & plebian product differentiation.

This is a photo I took weeks ago.
Three cans of almost beer  for tax purposes - malt reduced beer AKA happoshu.  Japanese breweries, in an effort to circumvent tax laws that tax according to malt content, have developed a range of low malt, same alcohol beer.   
It used to puzzle me that the decorated seasonal cans were always with happoshu rather than regular beer.  I've deduced that "real" beer drinkers buy according to preferred taste; happoshu drinkers buy on price. Faced with an undecorated can at the same price as a decorated can, the happoshu drinker, with no product loyalty goes for a tin that resonates with them.
In the lead up to New Year the competition was fierce - from left to right
Kirin's  Nadeshiko can - (the Japanese women's world cup soccer champions),  Asahi's Tokyo Sky tree which opens this year,  and Kirin's winter look.  The winter look beer came out in October... important to be ahead of the game...  
Bring on the cherry blossom cans, I'm sick of winter already.