Friday, April 22, 2011

100 Years Of Aviation In Japan: The Pioneers


No aviation without brave pilots: There were people fascinated with flight even in the Edo period, such as Ukita Kokichi from Okayama, who made attempts at calculating what wingspan would be needed to let man soar like a bird, something he seems to have achieved in 1785:

Ukita studied how birds fly. He finally concluded, "Compute the ratio of the wing's area to the body's weight and use that ratio to create an artificial wing. Humans may use them to fly like a bird."

His skill of paperhanging was very useful for making wings. He made the wings' ribs of bamboo, covered them with paper and fabric and varnished the surface with lacquer from Japanese persimmons.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Fast forward to the late 19th century, and we have Chuhachi (Tyuuhaci) Ninomiya, who made paper planes that may have been able to carry a man. The first airplane flight in Japan was likely on 29 April 1891, when a propeller-driven unmanned plane took off and flew about 10 meters at a height of one meter and 36 meters at a height of six meters the following day. He even tried to interest the military, who thought he was crazy!

(Source: Russel Naughton website, quoting Japanese websites that unfortunately do not work, except the one that goes to the Hiko Shinto shrine that Ninomiya founded near Kyoto, to "pray for the repose of victims of airplane accidents around the world").

Around this time, in April, 1911, Yoshitoshi Tokugawa made the first flights at Yoyogi, Tokyo and Tokorozawa, Saitama, 100 years ago.

Top image by painter Shigeo Koike shows the then state-of-the-art French biplane designed by Henri Farman, used by Tokugawa in his pioneering flights.

There were several female aviators too that deserve to be remembered. Ninamiji Yone from Wakayama prefecture was the first Japanese female pilot, getting her licence at the Schiller Airplane School in the U.S. in 1912. I'm not sure about the name, could that be near the O'Hare Airport in Chicago?



Hyodo Tadashi from Ehime prefecture is more famous, having gotten her licence in Japan, the first woman to do so.

This book, Hyodo Tadashi: Sora wo Tobimasu! has all the details about her and her young collegues.

She was the inspiration for a NHK drama in 1976, called Kumo no Juutan, which made lead actress Asaji Yoko famous.

In the drama, a 1936 Boeing A75 was used, with the registration number J-3641. A fast biplane that was sturdy and still used in the 1940s for what the agricultural chemical industries call "crop dusting" i e spraying dangerous pesticides on huge farm fields...

Apparently, the real airplane is exhibited in a Nasu, Tochigi prefecture museum dedicated to Japan's WW1 veterans. Looks like a rather unusual place, could be worth a visit, except here at Kurashi, we are very sensitive, or should I say strongly adverse, to war.

The airplane Ms. Tadashi used in 1922 (when she was in her early 20s) was a slender Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, according to the book.

I haven't found any images from that 1976 NHK drama series, but the OTS song is nice!

雲のじゅうたん


I think it is only fair to include two Korean female pilots from the pioneering era. There has been some controversy over a 2005 film called Blue Swallow, that dramatizes and romanticizes the (short) life of Park Kwang-yong:

24 July 1901 - 7 August 1933. Birth place: Taegu City Kyongsang-Do in Korea.
She was 168cm, which was very tall for women at that time. On 1 February 1926, she entered Tokyo Nippon Airplane school in Tokyo. In 1927, she got a third-class pilot license. When a reporter asked her about boyfriends, she answered "My boyfriend is my airplane." In 1928, she got a second-class pilot license. In 1933, she tried to fly over the Korean Strait, but she crashed into Gengadake Mountain in Atami city and died.

(Source: Paperback Centrism blog)

Why controversial? Because it turns out that Ms. Park was (probably) not first at all. That honour goes to Pyongyang-born Kwon Ki-ok, who instead of going to Japan decided to study aviation in China, graduating from the Yunnan Airforce School, affiliated with Chang Kai-chek, in 1925. She became a captain of Central Airforce of the Kuomintang in China, and survived WW2. The Blue Swallow film had to change some of its descriptions about Ms. Park, as the Korean public are very sensitive about any claims involving Imperial Japan...

Anyway, if you enjoy early era aviation as much as I do, here is the Blue Swallow trailer, with a lot of computer graphics to brighten your weekend!

青ツバメ



More aviation history on Kurashi:
100 Years Of Aviation In Japan: Part 1
100 Years Of Aviation In Japan: The Music (updated)
100 Years Of Aviation In Japan: Leaving on a Jetplane

Sunday, April 17, 2011

100 Years Of Aviation In Japan: Leaving On A Jet Plane

I feel strongly for everyone who left Japan in a hurry in March. It is a remarkable, extraordinary time. I chose to stay, others left. Hope to see you all back here soon again. Meanwhile, here is John Denver, Leaving on a jetplane:



I'm also reminded of a commercial that was popular when JAL was in better financial shape. With fuel costs going through the roof, commercial airlines are facing impossible odds.

JAL, established in 1951, has seen a lot of such odds over the years. 100 years of aviation, but flying was never meant to be this cheap.

浪漫飛行 Roman Hikou is possibly one of Japan's most expensive TV commercials back then in the bubble era. Here is Kome Kome Club, a CM for leasure trips back in April 1990 to Okinawa:



Long before there were jets in the sky, the airplanes where smaller, and more simple, but still got you from A to B. In the 1930s, you could buy a ticket and fly from Tokyo all over with commerical services, using Lockheed P-38 and other modern aircrafts. (Much later, the company became more known here for its bribery scandal involving the Prime Minister Tanaka, after the U.S. government had bailed out the company in 1971).

The Japanese government was a strong backer of commercial aviation, though the early companies struggled to maintain their operations through the 1920s. To promote civil aviation in the country, on October 30, 1928, the Japanese government helped set up a national flag carrier known as Japan Air Transport Corporation (JAT).

From 1931, for example, the government freely used JAT's civilian aircraft, mostly the Dutch Fokker Super Universal. The Greater Japan Airways also used domestically built versions of the Douglas DC-3.

In 1938, JAT carried nearly 70,000 passengers, representing 2.6 percent of the world's passenger traffic.

Source: The Origins of Commercial Aviation in Japan

Some of the passanger planes made in Japan in the 1930s were built by Nakajima in Gunma prefecture and Mitsubishi in Aichi prefecture.





Paintings by Shigeo Koike, an amazing artist, famous among airplane model builders around the world for his package art work for the Hasegawa company!

The Nakajima plane (bottom image) is a Japan-built DC-2. Nakajima had huge factories in western Tokyo, including Ogikubo, Musashino and Tama, as well as in Ota in Gunma. They built the best engines in Japan around this time, some 7,000 for civilian aircrafts.


The engines, based on the Bristol Jupiter, were called Kotobuki, and there were several later models with many improvements. Actually, workers at Nakajima had it rather good, with "a welfare program" that was admired by others, according to the un-official history, found here.

At least as long as it lasted. Anyway, to tie in with the music theme, and the title of this post, did you know that Imperial Japan actually attempted to build jet planes? Neither did I. Read more about the small Kyushu Shinden jet here and more technical details about the Nakajima Kikka here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

100 Years Of Aviation In Japan: The Music


Aviation has touched a nerve here in Japan for a long time. As I noted earlier, the first flight was back in 1911 in Tachikawa, west of Tokyo, by an heir of the Tokugawa shoguns.

Here is an early tune celebrating the amazing Tachikawa-to-Paris-And-London flight of the Ki-15 Kamikaze in April 1937. How about it?

Kamikaze Dakara (Because there is the Divine Wind)



No, this is not a tune for the suicide pilots who had no other means but to attack, later on as WW2 ended.

This is a song from before the war. Departing from Tachikawa April 6, 1937, they went to Taipei, Hanoi, and over the next four days reaching Athens, Rome, Paris, and finally Croydon Aerodrome, London, UK. I just love the samples of aircraft engine noise. Lyrics? All about going from the east to the west, and what a dazzling hero the 26 year old pilot is. You'll hear the singers mention Paris and London.

The pilot was Iinuma Masaaki from Nagano, and his navigator was Tsukagoshi Kenji, from Gunma (his father was a Japanese lawyer and his mother was British). The aircraft was a Mitsubishi plane, registered as J-BAAI. They broke the world record, peacefully, and were able to attend events related to the coronation of King George (of the Oscar-winning King's Speach fame).

I'll be blogging more about their trip at another date.

Back to aviation-related hits: In 1973, Yuming had her first huge hit with a song called Hikoui Gumi with photos of the Blue Impulse.

The white sloping road
continued into the sky
flickering heat haze
envelopes the child

Nobody noticing, all alone.
that child keeps ascending
she fears nothing
and then she soars

Longing for the sky
she soars across the sky
that child's life is a contrail

A very popular NHK drama, Saka no Ue no Kumo, about the winds of change in early modern Japan, had a hit song called Stand Alone in 2009, written by Joe Hisaishi, sung in Japanese by Sarah Brightman, the UK star. Historical dramas like this one are so very popular here. This is a nice version with English subtitles:

坂の上の雲 (Stand Alone)


What I would like to end this post with is the Google Earth6 Flight simulation, soaring slowly over the mountains in Hokkaido in northern Japan:

Monday, April 11, 2011

100 Years Of Aviation In Japan: Part 1


The first flights in an aircraft in Japan were made in Yoyogi, Tokyo and Tokorozawa, Saitama. Lieutenant General Baron Yoshitoshi Tokugawa studied aeronautical engineering in France, and showed what could be done with state-of-the-art aircrafts of the day in Tokorozawa, April 1911. In Tokorozawa, they are very proud of their history, as you will notice at the Koukuu Kouen Station on the Seibu line: they even have a cafe noting the 1911 event.

Do visit Tokorozawa, there is a lovely park with a museum that has some details of this amazing feat. The Aviation Museum is rather new, but in fact, this is the location of the Imperial Army Flight School that helped shape history in the 20th century. If you are looking for a day trip from Tokyo, the park in itself is worth a visit, and there are restaurants too. Easy access from Shinjuku or Ikebukuro, using the Seibu line.

On display both outdoors and inside the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum are a wide range of aircrafts, from every stage of development, up till recent jets. Do try the flight simulators! But what really fascinates me are the older flying machines. I had no idea that Japan had so many airplane manufacturers, and such a wide range of engines and types.

Tokorozawa Koukou Kouen (Japanese website)
Tokorozawa Aviation Museum (Wikipedia)

If you just want to go and watch modern commercial airplanes take off and land, then do take the brief Monorail trip to Haneda Airport. Before Narita, this was Japan's main gateway to the skies. Since 1931, it has carried all kinds of dignitaries to the city, like The Beatles in 1966, and the BOAC, SAS and Airoflot planes of that era.


For Tokyo, the real deal used to be Tachikawa Airfield. Before Haneda, this was Tokyo's and Japan's early international aerodrome, as they were sometimes called back in the 1920s and 1930s. It played an immense role during WW2. But, as with other Tokyo airfields, it failed to protect the capital and the country from the WW2 air raids.

This is also the huge airfield that the Americans used for both the Korean and the Vietnam War. It was returned to Japan in the 1970s, and when I went there, I could hear helicopters, possibly on missions to aid earthquake survivors in Tohoku. There is a large Disaster Hospital, and still along the train tracks, you can spot many factories related to the old aircraft companies, like Showa, IHI and Tachikawa. The largest company here used to be Nakajima, but they were broken up after WW2 (into Fuji and Subaru). They still have warehouses and I was told there are a large number of vintage airplanes here, but not on public display.

In fact, there is very little in Tachikawa for the airplane aficionado. A large part of the old Tachikawa Airfield is now the huge park called Showa Memorial Park, from 1983. Its focus is - flowers. It has got to be the biggest park in Tokyo! It has dog runs, bicycle rentals, orienteering set-ups, ponds, and bird sanctuaries. You could easily spend an entire day there, forgetting you are still technically in Tokyo.

Showa Memorial Park (Tachikawa)

With the cherry trees in bloom, I'm glad I went, but I was also surprised how little remains of its aviation legacy. For that, the trip to Tokorozawa is much more rewarding.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Conductor Zubin Mehta in Japan

This weekend, Tokyo welcomes classical music conductor Zubin Mehta, who will be performing with the NHK Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, for the benefit of the earthquake survivors in Tohoku.

NHK World:

Acclaimed conductor Zubin Mehta has arrived in Japan to conduct a charity concert benefitting the survivors of the March 11th disaster.

Mehta arrived in Tokyo from Russia on Friday. He held a rehearsal with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, which will perform Beethoven's Symphony Number 9 in Tokyo on Sunday. All proceeds will go to the disaster-hit areas.

Before the rehearsal, Mehta told orchestra members that he hopes for Japan's recovery, and that his thoughts are with the people.

The concert was planned at his request, to support areas affected by the disaster. The conductor said he wants to do what he can to lift the spirits of the Japanese people and help them believe in the power of music.

Mehta was in Tokyo on the day of the quake that hit eastern Japan. He returned to Italy when his concerts were canceled. Many foreign musicians canceled their concerts after the natural disaster and the trouble at a Fukushima nuclear plant.

Indian-born Mehta has conducted the world's most renowned orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic.
Here he conducts the Israel Philarmonic Orchestra, Beethoven's 7th, first movement.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Enka: Minatomachi Monogatari

If you liked Port Town Blues, you will love Minatomachi Monogatari (Stories from a harbour town). Yokohama, Nagasaki, main ports that are so very well known around the world. Also, Hakodate, which perhaps only a few of my regular Kurashi readers can find on a map.



The Swedish Foreign Ministry still treats all of Japan as a "no fly zone" in the sense that noone is recommended to travel to these parts. I find that rather silly. They also have similar advice for other trouble zones, like India, but then their advice is limited to the region they think you should not visit (Kashmir).

Japan has some 43 prefectures, and only 3 or 4 are directly affected by the current disaster: Fukushima, Iwate, Ibaraki. Late tonight, another big earthquake in Miyagi.

But!

Kyushu, Shikoko and Hokkaido are not affected at all... Of course Osaka and the Kyoto and Nara regions are OK. That is called Kansai, and they must be rather upset down there that once again, the Kanto region is getting all the attention.

We are suddenly, and very rapidly, learning to live with less, consuming less, and I hope others around the world are also paying attention. Maybe the sad enka songs will carry us through. I think they have the power to heal, to make people cry, and go on and work hard, tomorrow. We live on a small planet. Japan in a sense is the experiment, whatever happens here can happen anywhere.

How will you deal with it? That is the story...

Documentary Film Producer Hitomi Kamanaka: "Complex Feelings Of Sadness And Anger"


Hitomi Kamanaka visited Sweden for her latest documentary. Her trilogy of documentaries to date (Hibakusha: At the End of the World, Rokkasho-mura Rhapsody, and From Ashes to Honey) all address these issues from various perspectives. At an event in Tokyo called the Spring Love Harukaze, she gave an impassioned talk whereby she accused TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) and Japanese government officials of deliberately covering up information regarding the accident.

From Ten thousand things: Tokyo art and music event mourns disaster victims, raises seriousness of nuclear power and radiation issues

“The industry has long been releasing propaganda saying that nuclear power is safe, and now, following the accident, they have continued with the same lies by declaring that the radiation being released is also nothing to worry about,” she said. “People prefer to believe the propaganda because it’s easier, but unless they face reality, they won’t be able to protect themselves.

“Here in Japan, we have been led to believe that the matter of electricity simply involves flipping on a switch, and people do not think about where it comes from,” she explained. My latest film takes up the issue of the radiation emitted from nuclear power plants on a regular basis—as well as during accidents like the one we are now experiencing—which is something that people here have not been educated about whatsoever.”

Kamanaka’s latest documentary, From Ashes to Honey, takes an in-depth look at the decades-long struggle on Iwaishima island to stop construction of the proposed Kaminoseki nuclear power plant along Japan’s gorgeous Seto Island Sea coast. “Although the Chugoku Electric Power Company promised to stop construction following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, they didn’t even wait a full day before resuming dynamite explosions at the plant site,” she lamented.

She went on to mention that nuclear radiation released into the ocean is not safe as we are led to believe by industry officials, since it makes its way back up the food chain—a particularly disturbing fact in light of today’s news regarding TEPCO’s dumping 10,000 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. The full discussion (in Japanese) may be watched via the Spring Love Harukaze UStream channel (click here for part one and here for part two). An excellent interview with the filmmaker following the recent disaster, where she expresses the complex feelings of sadness of anger shared by many in Japan's longstanding anti-nuclear movement who have long been predicting that a disaster similar to the Fukushima one would occur, may be read here.


AOL News calls her the Erin Brockovich of Japan:

Kamanaka, who is single and does not have children, is Japan's answer to U.S. environmental activist Erin Brockovich and perhaps the most influential figure in the country's small, grassroots anti-nuclear movement.

She has made a trilogy of documentary films since 2003 designed to raise Japanese awareness on over-reliance on nuclear energy and has shown them around the country, sometimes during protests at nuclear power plants. The most recent, "Ashes to Honey," was released last month. She was showing the film in a Tokyo theater when the quake hit March 11.


Blogger In the Train has this synopsis:

The film "ミツバチの羽音と地球の回転" focuses on people's life in two totally different places: Japan and Sweden. In Japan, people in a small island Iwaishima is facing a nuclear energy plant construction just in front of their island. On the other hand, in Sweden nuclear energy generation was abandoned by national election in 1980. Since then people in Sweden have been trying to achieve an energy independent and sustainable society. Both are facing one question. "What should we do for our energy future?"

Update: I have to add that unfortunately, it is not true that Sweden has "abandoned" nuclear power... My old country has 12 nuclear reactors, and 10 are still up and running over 30 years after the national referendum in 1980, in spite of a string of accidents and mishaps. Also, a new law was enacted that will make it possible to build new reactors. However, after the Fukushima disaster, things may change again. The referendum in 1980 was a sham with 3 different voting alternatives that made it possible for the people-in-power to keep the nuclear power plants up and running. There is a brief summary of what happened here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Sweden


I think Kamanaka-san met a lot of wonderful Swedish people when she made her documentary, and what they tried to tell her may have been that it is possible to go nuclear free, but she should not have made it sound like Sweden has actually done so. Having said that, I still think her documentary is worth watching.

Trailer:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Power-Down: Will We Be Able To Avoid Rolling Blackouts?


A very interesting "power-down" experience: we may actually be able to avoid the planned power outages (called "rolling blackouts" as the schedule is decided in advance). Right now, in the middle of spring, Tokyo and the Kanto region is not using that much electricity. The main worry is the consumption peaks in the summer. Yet, if we have the blackouts, it will clearly hit the economy big-time.

While I need power to work (and pay taxes) there are pachinko parlours and all kinds of useless ways to waste electricity. Who gets to decide who is a friend and who is a foe..?

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry intends this month to end Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s rolling blackouts, sources said Wednesday, according to The Japan Times:

To conserve power, METI plans to instead urge large-lot corporate users to limit their use of electricity in the summer, when demand typically peaks because of the need for air conditioning, the sources said. The ministry will aim to slash demand 25 percent from last summer, they said.

If the plan is enforced, it would be the first time for Japan to invoke such compulsory power consumption restrictions since the oil crisis in 1974.

"We will seek to obviate the need for rolling blackouts," industry minister Banri Kaieda told Wednesday's Lower House Committee on Economy and Industry.

Meanwhile, Tepco said it will dispense with rolling blackouts for a 10th straight day Thursday due to warmer weather and as a result of beefing up its power supply capacity.

Work Updates From Consumers Union Of Japan


Here are some links to work-related stuff that you may be interested in.

Consumers Union of Japan has been anti-nuclear since founded back in 1969.

Useful Links For Updates On The Nuclear Issue In Fukushima, Japan
Here are some useful websites with information and updates in English about the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan:

NGO:

Green Action Japan: Fukushima Update
Citizen`s Nuclear Information Center (CNIC): Fukushima Nuclear Earthquake Disaster
Nautilus Institute March 17, 2011 Report (pdf file): After the Deluge
Union of Concerned Scientists (blog): All Things Nuclear

Government:

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) (food and water data)

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)

French National Institute SIROCCO: Coastal Ocean Modelling (Japan Model)

Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU): Fukushima potential releases of radioactive materials in the air (computer graphic models)

Industry:

TEPCO (apologies, status reports, rolling blackout schedules, etc.)

CUJ has also been working closely with the local NGO that has been opposed to the Fukushima Nuclear Plants, for a long time.

Consumers Union of Japan, Green Action, and the local anti-nuclear group in Fukushima have started a project to measure radiation in the Tohoku region of Japan.

April 2, 2011

The Fukushima Conference for Recovery from the Nuclear-Earthquake Disaster—Press_Release
—Measurement of Radiation at Elementary Schools (Report)
—Radiation Monitoring Results (Table)
—Letter to the governor of Fukushima

“Given that there is little time until school entrance ceremonies, investigations must be started most urgently in order to secure the safety and peace of mind of the children.”

Issued by:
The Fukushima Conference for Recovery from the Nuclear-Earthquake Disaster
37-1 Watari-aza-Shichishanomiya, Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture,
Japan

Representative: Seiichi Nakate, Mobile phone: 080-1678-5562 (Japanese Only)
(For inquiries in English, contact Kazumasa Aoki: 090-7245-7761)

English website
Japanese website

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Things We Take For Granted



Refrigerators: We just assume they work, no matter what. Steaming hot summer days, storms, snow, a lovely spring day like today (with no power blackout, since TEPCO has such things under control, for the time being).




Try to imagine how you will manage without your trusted fridge. Or better still, what about the freezer?


Invented by Swedish engineers in the early 1920s, the electric models back then were actually very energy efficient. Later on, the machines became a part of the status apparatus that signified that you had made it, and graduated from the ice box crew. Top image shows a number of models that were common in Japan from the 1920s.

In fact, just a day or two before the March 11 earthquake, I visited the Showa Kan Museum in Kudanshita, Tokyo, and they had a Japanese ice box unit on display, as part of their effort to show what life was like in the pre-WW2 era of the 1930s. Here is how they describe the ice box on display:


木製の箱の内部にブリキの板が張られている。上段には氷を入れ、下段の食品などを冷やすしくみの冷蔵庫である。氷が溶けて出る水は、ホースで排水されるようになっている。都市部を中心に電気冷蔵庫が普及するまで使われていたが、あるのは商売で必要とする家か、裕福な家庭に限られた。中に入れる氷は毎朝氷屋が配達に来た。


Blocks of ice were stored in the upper compartment, and there was a hose to deal with water from the melting ice. How nice, what a simple and logical unit. It was mostly used by upper-class families. Isn't that the core of the problem? How do we make the power-down democratic...?


How are you going to deal with the rolling blackouts?


Your trusted fridge will be turned off for hours. Is your food safe? How will it change your shopping habits?




Video: "Makes it safe to be hungry" CM for General Electric refrigerators. Note that this is the same company that provided the design for the Fukushima Nuclear Plant No 1, back in 1967. The links between the companies such as Toshiba and Hitachi with GE and other major power companies around the world, make for some very interesting reading.


NHK World: GE offers help at Fukushima
The chief executive of General Electric says his company will help address the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Jeffrey Immelt met with Japanese economy minister Banri Kaieda on Monday, along with Hitachi President Hiroaki Nakanishi. General Electric and Hitachi are partners in the nuclear power industry.

Immelt offered condolences to those affected by what he called an unprecedented disaster, and said the US conglomerate is willing to provide whatever assistance is necessary to deal with the situation. He told Kaieda that GE hopes to help restore the cooling functions at the plant and neutralize the radioactivity once the plant is stabilized.


ABC News: Fukushima Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Design Caused GE Scientist To Resign

March 15, 2011 story by Matthew Mosk. This is what I was looking for:

Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing -- the Mark 1 -- was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident.

Watch: Radiation Reality CheckQuestions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power, and today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s.

"The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh told ABC News in an interview. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release."
In Japan, foods such as milk, butter and cheese are carrying labels that say you should keep said items at 10 C. Other foods, especially fresh meat and fish, are not so safe at that temperature. In case of longer blackouts, if you are in doubt, throw the food out rather than take the risk of getting food poisoning.

(Throw it out as in, hope you have a compost, and that you know how to use that food waste to grow your own stuff)

Be that as it may.

From another point of view, how about this. From a Buddhist point of view, where we do not blame others, how are we going to explain these events? We are used to dealing with local matters. Do we have the tools to deal with large-scale events? It seems to me that we should be able to deal with global, universal events. The small problems we may face, such as power blackouts, are rather insignificant. No fridge? I think we can do better!

Tony Boys: Updates on the nuclear crisis in Japan