Tag Archives: japan

“Across the Nightingale Floor” by Lian Hearn

"Across the Nightingale Floor" by Lian Hearn

“Across the Nightingale Floor” by Lian Hearn

In light of the Far East Night the teens held two weeks ago (yes, this is a bit belated, alas), I wanted to include a book recommendation for  “Across the Nightingale Floor” by Lian Hearn for readers interested in Japan, ninjas, romance, and a little bit of magic. Even better, it’s the first book in the series!

The youth Takeo has been brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people who have taught him only the ways of peace. But unbeknownst to him, his father was a celebrated assassin and a member of the Tribe, an ancient network of families with extraordinary, preternatural skills. When Takeo’s village is pillaged, he is rescued and adopted by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru. Under the tutelage of Shigeru, he learns that he too possesses the skills of the Tribe. And, with this knowledge, he embarks on a journey that will lead him across the famed nightingale floor*—and to his own unimaginable destiny…

While the story doesn’t exactly take place in Japan, and there are definitely some fudges with Japanese history, it is an interesting take on medieval Japan – a historical fantasy, if you will. It’s a lot of fun and very good for reluctant readers with its mix of action and suspense.


Japan update 3/1/12

Today Hirono’s central government moved back to Hirono. I found out in early January from a friend of mine who works for Hirono city hall that they were planning to move back to Hirono in March, and it looks like they have done it:


Opinions seem to vary about the viability of folks moving back to Hirono. Some are hopeful and look forward to returning, while others are more pessimistic and believe that returning is not an option.

The article mentioned above states “A public Geiger counter near the town hall read 0.42 microsieverts per hour Thursday morning, a level several times higher than seen in Tokyo.”

And since I can’t keep track of microsieverts / millisieverts and what those numbers mean for radiation exposure, I thought I would try to figure it out and put it down here:

sievert = international unit of measure for an absorbed dose of radiation; measures the effect a dose of radiation will have on the cells of the body. 1 sievert (or “Sv”) = 100 rem (the measuring unit used in the U.S.). Receiving 1 Sv all at once will make you sick; receiving 6 Sv or more all at once is most likely fatal.

millisievert = 1/1000 of a Sievert (or 0.001 Sv). For example, a mammogram is 2 mSv, head CT scan 2 mSv, chest CT scan 8 mSv.

microsievert = 1/1,000,000 of a Sievert (or 0.000001 Sv). For example, an arm x-ray is 1 microsievert, a dental x-ray is 5 microsieverts, eating a banana is 0.1  microsieverts (weird, huh?), sleeping next to someone is 0.05 microsieverts.

For a point of reference, the background radiation dose we receive on a normal day is around 10 microsieverts (or 0.01 milliseiverts) The EPA yearly limit for radiation exposure to an average person (i.e. someone who doesn’t work with nuclear reactors) is 1 millisievert a year (or 1000 microsieverts).

For a chart that really provides perspective, check out http://xkcd.com/radiation/.

So if Hirono is currently reporting 0.42 microsieverts/hour, then the annual dosage would be 3.7 millisieverts. That’s equivalent to about a  head CT scan and a mammagram. Not that I would want to have both of those in a year, but that’s not too bad.

Maybe that trip to visit them in the fall will indeed happen.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

Title/Author: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Genre: Nonfiction – World War II, aviation and Japanese POW camps in Japan

Rating: 5 out of 5

WV Reader Review: The story of how Louis Samperini (runner in Berlin Olympics) survived over two months in the Pacific Ocean after his plane was shot down. The book documents his survival in POW  camps and return to the U.S. He had been pronounced missing, and then dead by the U.S.A. A very powerful book.

Life at a Japanese evacuation center

Japan evacuees

Life in an evacuation center (you can forget privacy)

I just found these reports from a nuclear consultant who lives (well, lived) in Tomioka, a town near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. He and his family were evacuated, and he has reported his experiences in a 3-part series in English.

[Tomioka is about 10 miles north of Hirono, the town I lived in. – Andi]

Tohiro Kitamura reports frustration with the government and the lack of consideration for the evacuees, ranging from insufficient bathrooms (1 toilet for 500 people, in one case) and rations of expired food, to discrimination with ‘optional lodgings’ (if you have the money, then you can stay at a hotel or inn with some government compensation) and unclear directions (‘voluntary evacuation’ and radiation testing with nothing to show for it).

Take a look for yourself:

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 1 (PDF)

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 2 (PDF)

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 3 (PDF)

In his reports, Kitamura mentions people crossing the “No Entry” zones to get to their home, however to do so requires a car and fuel. One man traveled alone in the evacuation zone to take photos of homes for evacuees who couldn’t make the trek themselves:


[Visiting Yonomori Park for the cherry blossoms is one of my fondest memories of living in Japan. The park is filled with cherry trees, and the city would put in lights to shine up through the branches of the cherry trees for the evenings when people would sit under the trees and have picnics with the blossoms falling like snow. -Andi]

Reports provided by JAIF. News by Mainichi Daily News.

Japan update 5/2/2011

Work continues on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. They are in the process of installing air filters in the No. 1 reactor building, which should reduce the amount of radioactive materials by 95% when operated for 24 hours. Eight workers are set to enter the No.1 reactor building as early as Thursday. They will be the first to do so since a hydrogen explosion occurred one day after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Assuming that the air filters work, TEPCO will then install air filters in the No.2 and No. 3 reactor buildings.

And in other news: A group of Tohoku Electric Power Company (not the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs Fukushima Daiichi) shareholders will submit a motion calling for the closure of the company’s nuclear plants. 220 individual stockholders decided on the move ahead of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting at the end of next month. The investors are demanding that the  utility state in its agreement with shareholders that it will close its nuclear power plants and end its investment in a reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture and similar projects. The shareholders say the problems at  the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was a warning that accidents at any nuclear plant can lead to dangers that cannot be contained by any one company. They will deliver documents on the demand to the  company on Monday. The subject is expected to be discussed at this year’s shareholders’ meeting.

News courtesy NHK and JAIF 5/2/2011.

Dewey Talks about the Japanese Tea Ceremony Thursday, May 5

Japanese tea ceremony

Japanese tea ceremony (kimono not required)

“Chanoyu” is usually translated “tea ceremony.”  It literally means “hot water for tea,” but centuries of Japanese history, literature and culture come together in the study and discipline of making and serving tea. Chanoyu incorporates many of the arts and crafts of Japan with the focus of preparing and serving a bowl of tea with a pure heart.

Presenter Jan Waldeman, teacher of Urasenke style tea ceremony, will discuss the elements of the Japanese tea ceremony. Learn about the four principles of wa-kei-sei-jaku, or harmony, respect, purity and tranquility, and how the tea ceremony can be a metaphor for life. Enjoy a sample of traditional Japanese matcha (green tea) and sweets.

For more information about this free community event, please contact John Smith at 503-682-2744 or smith@wilsonvillelibrary.org


“Chanoyu: The Japanese Tea Ceremony”
Thursday, May 5
6:30-8:00 p.m.
Oak Room

Presented by the Wakai Tea Association of Portland

Happy news from Japan

Penguin Akari

Penguin Akari

Earthquake penguin chick hatches
A penguin chick has hatched in a zoo from an egg laid one hour before the massive quake hit northeastern Japan on March 11th.

Nasu Animal Kingdom in Tochigi Prefecture says a pair of cape penguins took turns sitting on the egg for more than a month before the chick was born on Tuesday.

The zoo named the baby penguin “Akari” meaning light, as a symbol of hope for the future. The new-born was moved to an incubator on Wednesday.

Zoo keeper Takuya Horie says the parents kept the egg warm through the quake and many aftershocks. He said he wants the baby to grow up healthy.

The chick is expected to make its debut at the zoo early in May.

Kampai! (Cheers!)
In Saitama Prefecture, a group of local hotels and tourist boarding houses have started a new service, hoping to support quake-struck areas.

40 businesses in the prefecture’s Chichibu area now provide their guests with Japanese sake brands made in hardest-hit areas such as Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures.

Some guests immediately ordered the sake.

Flower message to cheer up quake survivors
The husband-and-wife owners of a cafe in Takamatsu City, western Japan, have created flower messages to encourage the country’s recovery from the March 11th disaster.

A garden attached to the cafe, owned by Masayuki Inokuma and his wife Emiko, is carpeted with pink moss flowers. About 250,000 plants are currently in full bloom.

The pair created a 5×35-meter flower arrangement forming the phrase “Gambaro Nippon” or “Let’s hang in there Japan”.

The couple began planting the flower arrangement a week after the disaster to cheer up the survivors of the quake and tsunami in northern Japan.

In another arrangement, moss pinks are planted in the image of a bluebird, a symbol of hope and happiness to the devastated areas.

Admission fees of about 2 dollars per person will be donated to support the victims of the disaster.

News items from NHK 4/21/2011.