Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Archive for December, 2011



Happy New Year 2012

I hope this year is better than last year for everybody.


New Year’s Resolutions

I think I will resolve to lose weight for the new year, starting tomorrow, January 1st.

That’s an original resolution nobody else has ever thought of, right?

What are your new year’s resolutions?


New Year’s shopping – I did not buy this

Everybody is stocking up on special food for the New Year and the supermarket is packed. But seriously: $125 (9,800 yen) for 1.3 kg of beef?



Mon has started laying eggs yet again!

I just removed her last unfertilized batch less than a week ago. She’s laying eggs every month now, like clockwork. doug

Yoi otoshi wo!

The holiday season in the U.S. is winding down now, and Christmas, the big event, has passed.

But here in Japan the New Year’s holiday season is just getting started. Most companies take off for at least a full week starting today. People head for their home towns, Tokyo becomes very quiet, and the air becomes crystal clear as all the factories close. It’s during these holidays I can best see Mt. Fuji from my bedroom window.

The climax begins New Year’s eve and continues for a few days afterwards, as people make their first visit to shrines (hatsumoude –ōde). New Year’s eve is the only night of the year the Tokyo trains and subways run all night.

The first dream of the year (hatsuyume – is considered important. May you dream of Mt. Fuji and hawks.

There are also some other “hatsu” firsts of the year I won’t detail here, but which you might look forward to. 🙂

Companies and friends are having bounenkai (forget the year parties –ōnenkai) now, and the liquor is flowing freely. After the year starts up again and people return to work there will be another round of shin’nenkai (new year parties). 

It used to be that all the stores would close at least for the first couple of days of the year. Unfortunately, with growing competition, a lot of stores are opening, even on new year’s day. I think that takes away some of the special feeling. The same thing happened in the U.S. too. When I was in grad school, I couldn’t even find a 24 hour restaurant to eat dinner at on Christmas Day. But I understand there are lots of places open on Christmas there now. The same thing happened here with new year’s day.

Yoi otoshi wo (have a good new year). Rainen mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu (this doesn’t translate so well in English, but essentially means please show me the same kindness next year as you did this year). From New Year’s Day onward, when you meet someone for the first time that year you can say akemashite omedetou gozaimasu (happy new year) and kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu (please show me the same kindness again this year).

Happy Year of the Dragon!


Japan update – 1,700 earthquakes since 3/11

As of today there have been 1,700 earthquakes of magnitude 4 or greater since 3/11.

Today there were three: magnitudes 4.6, 5.4 and 5.2. All were far enough from Tokyo that I didn’t feel them.

The number of quakes has definitely gone done a lot since the big one hit in March. The daily energy release from earthquakes has also gone way down.

This graph shows the daily release in energy since 3/11.

The red line shows the daily release of energy.

On March 11, an almost incomprehensible 2.1 EJ (2.1 quintillion joules) of energy was released in the 78 earthquakes that hit that day. By comparison, the energy released in the nuclear bomb used at Hiroshima released 63 trillion joules, so the energy released by the 3/11 earthquakes was over 30 thousand times as large. It was enough to slightly tilt the earth on its axis and shift the entire continent of Honshu.

Since the number of earthquakes have dropped greatly (yellow line) the daily release of energy has also fallen greatly. But even today, 12.4 trillion joules of energy was released in the three earthquakes. Fortunately that was distributed in 3 quakes in three different areas of the country and there was no reported damage.


Hao, Mon and Doug hanging out together


The 8th night of Hanukah

The 7th night of Hanukah

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