Showing posts from March, 2013

Maruyama Naotaro - Natsu no Owari

A peace song by singer song-writer Maruyama Naotaro, born in Tokyo in 1976. "End of Summer" - Nice short speech there about getting kids, who do not know about war, to understand the importance of peace... Lovely Okinawa vibe. Hope the North Koreans (and South Koreans, and American GIs who are based in these parts of the wood) are listening tonight...

Stop Idling, Revisited: Stop Car Deaths

Strange. Toyota and Honda and Mazda have introduced Start-stop systems that mean car engines are simply turned off when the car isn't moving. So why are there no campaigns to help every driver understand that turning off the engine manually, will also reduce gasoline use, and save money? Not only that, but reduce exhaust pollution and help combat climate change.

Japanese car companies have been loss-leaders in this field, fighting a lot of battles since the 1970s. I guess the car business is just that kind of game. You can't win, they are destroying our towns and cities and no matter what kind of sense or reason, the car is the rule.

Getting back to idling, why did not the Japanese ideas back in the 1970s to save gasoline catch on?

Popular Science (1974): Automatic On/Off Switch Gives 10% Gas Saving 

Interesting to note that the writer was aware of "CO" emissions back in 1974, and the need to keep them as low as possible.

The car industry, however, is less interested …

Climate Angst

I get angry extremely rarely, which is why events today took me by surprise. I was at a local Home Center (which in Japan is a place where you can by gardening supplies, among lots of other things) with colleagues who have a small car.

As we returned to the car to load our bounty (shovels, garden scissors, rubber boots, bags of soil and fertilizer) it turned out that the car just opposite ours was idling like mad. Not only that, but the red sports car was empty, so it wasn't possible to just go up to the driver and politely tell him to turn off his foul-smelling engine. The driver had left his engine on while going shopping.

Now, I don't own a car so I don't really know what goes on in the brains of drivers. But this made me really angry, for a number of reasons. Such as, my health - having to breathe the foul air from his (her?) car while standing directly behind it. Such as, wasting fuel. Such as, the health of our planet - ever heard of climate change?

There is a term,…

Moriyama Naotaru - Sakura

It is that time of the year. I usually try to resist it, what will all that pale pink, but here in my local parts of the wood, in my hood, with all that is going on, it is just more lovely than ever. We just went from plums to cherries in a snap.

And here is a tune for all of you who like spring (thanks Tom for finding, and reminding).








Bokura wa kitto matteru Temos esperança
Kimi to mata aeru hibi wo De ver você novamente
Sakuranamiki no michi no ue de Na alamedadeCerejeiras
Te wo furi sakebuyo Gritamos, abanando a mão
Donnani kurushii toki mo Você está sempre sorridente
Kimi wa waratteirukara Mesmo nos dias mais difíceis
Kujikesooni narikakatemo Por isso, senti firme…

Blogging About TPP, Straw Man Arguments, And More

If you like writing that is as good as Spike Japan's, you'll be sad to hear he is once again hanging up his hat. He blames Abenomics and other recent events. However, the good news is that Ken and his wonderful garten blog is back! Which is great, because I learnt a lot from his write-ups, and comments, and I'm suddenly in the middle of a similar project... Pandabonium? Not sure, he and his Momo Wonderdog always come up with the best of the best, but all too un-frequently for my taste, so do check out his vast archives. Other fun blogs are truly sayonara, like Mari's Watashi to Tokyo and her cute rants against hello kitty and all sorts of fun stuff that most of us non-natives might have missed. Glad to see that Ten Thousand Things is more active than ever.

Kurashi in its 8 (!) years of history has nowhere near the amount of readers or fans. Be that as it may. Sort of, we try to keep the flag up against the facebook and twitter crowds. If Kurashi manages to continue to …

Misia - Ginkado

Misia and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) collaborated making this amazing music video.

Star Party (E)

Here is a door to the universe.

Star Party for the public is held at the Mitaka Campus of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, on Friday before the 2nd Saturday and the 4th Saturday in every month. 

(Please check the Star Party Calendar).

Even city lights have taken dark nights away, the universe is still above us. Now it's time to explore the vast universe.

A telescope enables us to observe a fine pattern and faint stars thanks to its large aperture. As you know, main roles of telescopes are to collect light and to magnify distant objects.
As for concentration of light, larger mirrors or lenses telescope have, more light they can collect. A human pupils has a diameter of about 7mm, while our telescope has a main mirror 50 cm in diameter. The power of collecting light for our telescope is about 5000 times larger than your eye…

The Comet

Nice video animation by the good people over at NAOJ (E) of the path of the comet that we will possibly be able to see, in the western sky, just after sunset. I think this is using Mitaka, a cool space visualization program that was developed by Kato Tsunehiko. Stars within 3000 light years with distance measurements from the Hipparcos satellite are in the database...

Great photo courtesy Luis Argerich in Argentina.

Tricky to catch since it is so close to the horizon. Earthsky provides this helpful image.

And did you know that you should be able to see at least five planets this month?

You’ll have absolutely no trouble spotting the dazzling planet Jupiter this month, which pops out high into the sky at evening dusk. The king planet ranks as the fourth-brightest celestial body to light up the heavens, after sun, moon and the planet Venus. However, Venus will be obscured in the glare of sun all this month. Look for the moon to pass close to Jupiter on March 16, 17 and 18.

This partic…

Air Quality Warning, Japan

If you have allergies, the SPRINTARS page may help you to prepare for your daily tasks.

Red alert means severe warning
Orange means pretty bad
Green means yaya, a little bad
Blue means OK...

Sunday was severe in many places, including Tohoku and Kyushu. But Monday should be OK.

SPRINTARS Forecast (J) The aerosol forecast is based on the simulation with a global aerosol climate model, SPRINTARS (E). Their movies are rather interesting too, here.

Here is the link to their daily forecasts:

SPRINTARS also do video forecasts of pollutants.

Try this link. Wow, China really gets it bad.

SPRINTARS is based on an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model, MIROC, developed by Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute (Division of Climate System Research), University of Tokyo, National Institute fot Environmental Studies, and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Research Institute for Global Change), and treats main tropospheric…

A Weekend Of Demonstrations In Tokyo

March 9, 2013 (Saturday): Bonding with Fukushima: Sayonara Nuclear - Event starts at 11:00 in Meiji Koen, Tokyo. Opening Live from 12:00. Speeches from 12:25, then at 15:00 the parade (demonstration walk) starts with two routes, one for NGOs and one for Labour Unions.

If you want to avoid the speeches, try to get there by 15:00 but it may be very crowded. 

3月9日 つながろうふくしま!

March 10, 2013 (Sunday): Two Years after the Nuclear Accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi - Event starts at 13:00 in Hibiya Koen, Tokyo. Parade (demonstration walk) starts from 14:00. Event from 17:00 outside the Parliament Bldg.

March 11, 2013 (Monday): Bonding with Fukushima: Sayonara Nuclear - Event at Shinagawa Culture Foundation (Oimachi Station, Rinkai Line). Lecture and music from 18:30.

More details and maps over at (J)

Appeal for March 9 in English here.

Much more in English from Kai Sawyer's excellent Living Permaculture blog:

I'll be speaking at the Talk Tent with a few other people wo…

No Nukes 2013 Events In Tokyo This Weekend

Monday next week of course a very solemn date for all of us here in Japan, as it marks two years since the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Tohoku, northeast of Tokyo. Polls in the news this week indicate that a lot of people are still suffering and in doubt how to carry on.

The Tohoku region, and Fukushima prefecture, has such a long history. It is not easy to abandon one's roots and one's hometown. However, many people in this part of Japan were migrants in earlier eras, going to the US and Hawaii. Fukushima also has that special kind of vibe, with people from Manchuria returning after WW2, to battle against the forces of nature again. No wonder there are a lot of people in Tokyo who want to support and help any effort from Tohoku, like the Nippori March events.

You a;so get the inspiration from ladies like the Hula Girls movie, based on a true story.

Plus the fierce fishermen and everyone involved in the trade along the coast. I was particularly struck by the train …

Ancient Navigation, Viking Style

We know precious little about how our ancestors travelled. We do know that the Vikings used some kind of "Sunstone" to sail, and recent discoveries seem to confirm that they may have used a kind of crystal found in Iceland and other places in Scandinavia, called spar or Iceland spar or silfurberg. Fältspar is a common Swedish word, so this is not an unusual stone, and not a precious stone as such, but they simply may give a hint at where the sun may be on a cloudy day through polarization.

We know of course that vikings like Leif Eriksson settled on the eastern coast of North America (called Vinland by the Scandinavians) long before that upstart Columbus reached what we now call the "American" continent, but it hasn't been clear how the vikings navigated, except for the few lines in ancient Nordic texts.

Viking legends, including an Icelandic saga ‘Rauðúlfs þáttr’ with  the hero Sigurður , hint that these sailors had another navigational aid at their disposal:…

Japan Leading The Way Away From Nuclear?

Strange to observe what is happening in the world. Italy has no nuclear reactors, having abandoned the idea from the start. Germany quickly responded to the call of the general public in the spring of 2011, and decided to stop investing in new nuclear plants, thus basically and fundamentally changing its energy future. Japan - after the Fukushima disaster with three meltdowns and massive hydrogen explosions.

Remember at Three Mile Island in Harrisburg, US, they thought it might happen, but it didn't... Imagine if it had? Well, Japan went through three such explosions, all shown live here on television, back in March 2011, just two years ago.

Then, in 2012, for two months, all of Japan's 50 or so remaining nuclear reactors went offline. Then, the Oi reactors north of Osaka were restarted, and there were amazing demonstrations and protests, unlike anything you had ever seen in this country.

Now, it turns out that possibly no reactors will be restarted in Japan during 2013, accor…


If you are interested in organic farming, and would like to visit Japan, do try WWOOF. You may need to be prepared for all kinds of things.


Do take the chance to do something completely different with your life. It could be difficult, it could be wonderful. You will be going to rural Japan, not to the big cities of bright lights and endless temptations. You will sleep on tatami mats in futons, wake up at dawn, breakfast is rice and miso soup.

An exchange between friends; Hosts and WWOOFers.

"Friends just like family"

When visiting hosts, you are neither a guest nor a worker, but a part of the host's place - like friends and family members are. Based on the rhythms you see at the host's place you'll be thinking about what you can do to help-out, and what you can learn and experience in doing so. The host will give the same back to you. Living chores are often a part of the day: ie., preparing meals and cleaning up.  Open your heart.  Listen to …

Hat-trick For Shinji Kagawa

Congratulations to Shinji Kagawa, 23, who scored a hat-trick for Manchester United!

"I think I'll get a lot of attention because I scored a hat-trick but the fans in Japan are looking toward the Real Madrid game and that's where I'm setting my sights," Kagawa said, after netting in the 46th, 76th and 87th minutes before a turnout of 75,586 at Old Trafford.
"It'll be a terrific atmosphere here. I'll put the team first as always and prepare as well as I can for the match."

Kagawa scored three goals ("hat trick" in football parlance) in United's 4-0 home win over Norwich City. Kagawa is the first Japanese to score a hat trick on English soil since Junichi Inamoto, who fired Fulham into their first UEFA Cup in 2002 with a triple at Craven Cottage, according to The Mainichi...

Terrific photo, what a joy for the fans: AP Photo/Jon Super/The Mainichi

Update: 428 comments so far on The Guardian: Manchester United stretch lead as Shinji…

The Myth Of Tamiflu: Why Is This Drug Still Marketed To Children?

A long, long time ago, I wrote about Tamiflu on this blog, here and here. There were serious issues with this drug, as Japanese parents lobbied to stop it from being prescribed to children. There were several cases of suicides and other mental problems in teenagers who had taken Tamiflu.

It was big news here in 2007, and got the attention even of NHK World:

...on March 20, NHK World reports that Tamiflu side-effects prompt NPO reaction:

Families of people who died from abnormal behavior have asked the government to ban the sale of the antiviral drug Tamiflu. Five groups made the request to the health ministry on Monday. The groups include non-profit organizations studying the harmful effects of drugs, and a group of families whose relatives died after taking Tamiflu. They asked the government to stop the sale of Tamiflu, and to issue a stronger warning on the side effects of the drug.

They also asked the government to remove a professor from a research panel on the drug's si…