Friday, 25 May 2012

Tokyo Skytree and the Eclipse

It's been a week of media frenzy here. First the eclipse of the sun on Monday morning and then on Tuesday the opening of Tokyo Skytree. The eclipse was an annular solar eclipse, a rare phenomenon when the moon blocks all but a ring of the sun's light. The Japanese 'kinkan nisshoku' (金環日食)literally 'band of gold eclipse' is much more romantic than the English and captured the public's imagination. Skytree at 634 metres is the tallest tower in the world and the technology that gets the lift up to the first observation deck at 350 metres in less than 50 seconds is amazing. But why did NHK think it worth spending the whole of the morning news - from 7:00 am to 7:23 am on that topic alone? Weren't there more important things going on in the world? Neither event lived up to the hype as the weather was bad on both occasions. Here in Koriyama it got dark as I walked to work on Monday but the cloud was too thick to to see anything.

So for a couple of days these two events eclipsed (sorry) the more pressing issue of what is to happen to the nuclear plants and how the country is to deal with the upcoming electricity shortage. Up here in the Tohoku region we're going to have enough electricity and Tokyo (which has got old thermal power stations going again) should have enough, but in Osaka a request has gone out for a 15% cut (compared with the hot summer of 2010). Restaurants serving the local specialities, 'konomiyaki' cabbage pancakes and noodles cooked on a hotplate, are complaining that without air conditioning temperatures will rise to 40 or 45'C. I remember those days when I first came to Japan. Boy, was it hot.

In a separate development, the local authority has voted in favour of opening the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui. It doesn't really have much choice as it can't function without the tax income from the plant. The whole system is skewed this way and without changing the system it's hard to see how Japan will actually abandon nuclear - which is what most people want. And Hashimoto, Mayor of Osaka, came up with the bizarre suggestion that the Oi plant could be opened 'just for the summer'. What happened to the idea that they couldn't be re-opened until their safety was assured?

Good news is that today big government handouts for the recovery have been decided. The first slew of money in February was only 65% of what had been requested prompting the governor of Miyagi to comment that the Recovery Agency was not trying to help but was a censor. This time 1.5 times the amount requested was granted so the Recovery Agency seems to have got its act together and the recovery can get going at last.
So that's a round up of this week's news.
Bye for now


  1. I don't think that the Tokyo Sky Tree is the tallest in the world, but I am not 100% sure.

    We checked out a book from the library here in Japan and it said that it is number two. The highest is in United Arab Emirates, the Burja Khalif (sp?). I just checked their heights on the internet and indeed the Burja Khalif is higher.

    However, I read in Time magazine this week that the Tokyo Sky Tree is the highest, plus my son's teacher said it is the you can't argue with authority! :-) I am worried that my son was telling everybody at school that it is the second highest, and his classmates are thinking he is an idiot!!!!

  2. Oh, by the way, the Burja Khalif in the United Arab Emirates was designed by Japanese architects (according to what my son read.) So he was proud! lol

  3. Hi
    What I found out when I was writing was that Tokyo Skytree is the highest TOWER in the world, but not the highest STRUCTURE!
    All the best