The bus wheeled into the Yamazaki IC stop at 17:29 on the dot, exactly on time. Sagramore slung his backpack over his shoulder, and climbed the steps onto a mostly deserted vehicle. Sleeping forms dotted the interior cabin. After grabbing a little stub from the ticket machine, he made his way to one of the window seats in the middle of the bus, on the left side. His lower body was sore from a weekend of rafting in Shikoku, and sitting down felt pretty good. The earbuds went in, the downbeat trip hop turned on, and his eyes closed shut. The bus ride to Osaka would be about 2 hours. It was time to relax.
I often think I don’t take full advantage of living in Japan, in terms of my website contributions. I don’t mean I need to write travelblog entries, since that’s not the focus of the site. There’s plenty of good sources for that anyway, including friend of the Podcast Cookie’s own blog, which you can visit here. However, living in a foreign country does expose me to a lot of exciting and different material I should be using to fuel my blog presence a bit more directly.
Sometimes it’s hard to focus in on what I should write. For example, should I blog about visiting the Tokyo Game Show? Other sites do that, and their updates happen live, so a 2-week-delayed description of the goings on would be a little bit redundant.
Today I found my muse. I learned about a yearly festival held in Kawasaki, which is a little city part of the urban sprawl between Tokyo and Yokohama, called the Kanamara Matsuri (I will translate it later). Ladies and gentleman, Japan is a different world. I have not personally been to the festival; I only just heard about it roughly 27 minutes ago, but was so enraptured by it conceptually I needed to blog about it immediately. Disclaimer: if you are a minor and/or excessively prude, please don’t read the rest of this article.
Just dropping a quick post to link this article (It’s not an article, I don’t know what it is. I don’t understand the internet yet, or how to categorize all the different news-ish stuff one can access these days), which I thought pretty interesting. It’s fairly sensationalist, but it raises some nice questions the news media outside of Japan probably isn’t addressing.
I realize it’s been almost 4 months now since the 3/11 earthquake, and CNN et al can’t be tasked with covering a story more than 2 weeks, but please do not confuse international media silence with an actual resolution to the problems caused by the earthquake in March. Large parts of Northern Japan are, of course, still a mess reminiscent of Mad Max movies. The area immediately surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant is still bathed in radiation, bathing, rather. Past tense is not accurate. The truth of what happened at the Fukushima plant will probably never come to light. TEPCO officials and the news do a lot of speaking, but very little talking, if you know what I mean. The current working plan seems to consist of watching the plant from afar and letting it shoot out all the radiation it can until it runs out, which should be about march 2012 according to current estimates. Boy, if that doesn’t inspire confidence.
I don’t pretend to be an nuclear engineer, or know anything about curbing a nuclear meltdown, other than calling the Justice League. However, as an educated consumer of news, and more importantly, electric power supplied by TEPCO (I do live in TYO), I would enjoy getting something more than nothing and what seems like complacency. I am not Japanese; tearful apologies and bowing your head to the ground in front of cameras doesn’t do much for me. Frankly, it’s not doing much for the general public here, either. Naoto Kan, the current PM faced tremendous pressure from his own party and constituents to resign after his perceived failures to handle the national disaster adequately. He did survive the vote of no confidence last month, but only because he promised to resign on his own “in the near future.” There’s Japanese politics for you.
And now I’m rambling. My main purpose is just to stress how the crisis is still very much ongoing, and though the Japanese put on a very brave and capable front, they are mired in inaction and politics as usual. While reading the linked article, don’t be surprised to hear about TEPCO’s yakuza connections, or bribing history, or never being held accountable for anything…that’s all standard procedure for Japanese hypercorporations (and even American ones, honestly). Let’s just see if and how anything changes, and if TEPCO can successfully switch its priorities around, and start focusing on the people of Fukushima first, and the yen second.
(Post Edit- Why solve a problem, when you can just apologize and resign? 2011/7/5)
As everyone most likely knows by now, Northern Japan was struck by recorded history’s 5th strongest earthquake Friday, March 11th. The death toll sits at about 4,000 right now, and is growing by the hour. The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant is losing reactors by the day, and power outages are affecting all of Eastern Japan. If you’d like to help, and do more than just read depressing facts online, please follow the links below to a few relief effort/donation sites.
Praying and wishing are great, but they don’t feed hungry mouths or build shelters.
The Salvation Army has a strong presence in Japan, and is a great point of contact.
All Hands is a smaller, but no less reputable, organization.
This is a Huffington post article with all sorts of links. I apologize for referencing the Huffington Post, but desperate times call for hyper-left wing blogs.