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

Posts tagged ‘Japan’

Sakura along the Nakagawa

The cherry blossoms along the Nakagawa here in Shinkoiwa are not in full bloom yet. And the day is a little hazy. I think it will take another few days before they are in full bloom. I’ll keep checking. Still, they look nice.

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Sakura are starting to bloom

I cycled down to the Nakagawa and can confirm that the sakura are, indeed, starting to bloom. Just a very few so far. I believe the prediction is for full bloom about 10 days from now.

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5 years ago today

It was 5 years ago today. I was at the supermarket and thought I felt a rumbling sensation. I asked the store clerk and he didn’t feel anything. Then shelves started swaying and things started falling down. I left quickly for the exit, encouraging others to leave as well.

Outside I had to hold onto a bicycle rack to stop from falling over. It was clear that this was the largest earthquake I had ever experienced.

People milled around outside for a while, and then the store manager announced they were closed for the rest of the day.

I headed back to my house, where I found neighbours hanging around outside and heard for the first time it was the largest earthquake in Japan’s history, a magnitude 9.

Inside, I found a lot of things had fallen down, including ceiling light fixtures. But mostly everything was OK.

The phones were down, and the trains had totally stopped, but amazingly the Internet kept on running.

After that everybody knows what happened.

It was 2:46 pm today. I’ll never forget it.

An article worth glancing at about “the woman in the blanket” – then and now.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002801793

The case of the stolen tissues

Imagine my surprise.

I had cycled over to Life (the large supermarket nearby) and first went to the side of the store that sells paper products. I bought some things like tissue paper, and it was in a very large bag, so before continuing shopping for food I went outside and left the bag in my bicycle basket.

Without giving it another thought, I went back into the food side of the store and did regular grocery shopping.

When I came out, I was very surprised to see that my bag had been stolen! In my 28 years in Japan, this had never happened to me!

I went to the customer counter to report it and ask if they had a security camera. They didn’t, but called the police for me. It wasn’t a very expensive purchase, but it was the principle of the thing.

While waiting for the police to arrive, the manager came running out of the store to the parking lot carrying my bag! He said somebody thought it was “forgotten” and had brought it to the Lost and Found. Why they would think it was forgotten since it was in my bicycle basket remains a mystery.

The manager said he would call the police and let them know it was found. I bowed and thanked him and he bowed back and I cycled off home.

Cesium spikes in Tokyo Bay samples; Contamination linked to Fukushima plant; no immediate threat to health

Sludge samples taken at the mouths of two major rivers emptying into Tokyo Bay showed radioactive cesium contamination linked to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis grew by 1.5 to 13 times since August, a researcher at Kinki University said Monday.

The contamination poses no immediate health risk since no seafood from Tokyo Bay has seen contamination levels exceed the government-set threshold. But close, long-term monitoring of the seabed mud is needed, said Hideo Yamazaki, professor at Kinki University’s Research Institute for Science and Technology.

“Contamination is flowing into the bay from rivers, including the Edogawa River, where cities with high radiation levels like Kashiwa (in Chiba Prefecture) are located upstream,” Yamazaki told The Japan Times.

“Contaminated sludge appears to be . . . accumulating on the bottom at the mouth of the rivers,” he added.

Yamazaki, an expert on how radiation and chemical substances impact the environment, and his team took the samples at three locations at the mouths of the Arakawa and Edogawa rivers on April 2 following studies carried out in August.

Samples of mud pulled from 1 meter below the seabed at the sites turned up cesium contamination ranging from 7,305 to 27,213 becquerels per square meter. The August readings were between 578 and 18,242 becquerels per square meter.

Yamazaki noted a thirteenfold rise was detected in a spot where the August readings were relatively low. He said, however, the contamination does not pose a health threat, even if a child were to play in the water.

Although radioactive mud will continue to flow into the bay, the peak contamination concentrations should be within the next couple of years, considering that the half-life of cesium-134 is about two years, Yamazaki said.

“If the contamination were to spread to fish, it is possible that radioactive isotopes could accumulate when bigger fish feed on smaller ones,” he said. “We’re scheduled to continue our monitoring in the following years” to study such cases.

ref: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120515a4.html

‘Hot spots’ detected at 20 schools

Kyodo

FUKUSHIMA — More than 20 schools in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, have radiative “hot spots” on their premises, a civic group said Sunday.

The finding was based on city board of education documents obtained through an information disclosure request, it said.

The board instructed elementary and junior high schools as well as nursery schools in January to check air radiation levels in side ditches, hedges and drains on their premises. Schoolyards and classrooms were excluded as the levels there have been regularly examined.

Reports submitted by each school in April showed at least 14 elementary and seven junior high as well as five nursery schools have hot spots where the cumulative annual radiation dose could reach 20 millisieverts, or more than 3.8 microsieverts per hour.

At the start of the new academic year in April, the board of education lifted a restriction that had limited students to playing in schoolyards for less than three hours per day due to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster that started last year.

ref: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120508b2.html

Visited the newly completed Sky Tree today – the tallest self-supporting tower in the world

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