Tuesday 24 July 2012

Back in Koriyama

Hi folks
Sorry about the hiatus. A week in Germany and England, then a week adjusting to the heat and humidity here. Had a lovely time. Gorged on all the things I miss: cheese, finnan haddock, raspberries and as a special treat, wedding cake. First impression on my return? Everything in England - from the people to the ATM machines - seemed big and clunky. Here everything is small and neat. 

In England, preparations for the Olympics were in full swing. With 1 million extra people using the tube and buses, Londoners were being instructed to find alternative ways to go to work. Some had had trial days working at home. Loved the BBC programme 'Twenty Twelve' about cock ups by the Olympic deliverance committee. In the episode I saw it had just been discovered that the Shared Faith building wasn't facing mecca and the Algerian team were threatening to pull out. Great spoof. Unfortunately, it seems a little too near the bone. The army has been called in to make up for a shortage of guards and border staff are threatening to go on strike. In Japan we have wall-to-wall TV about London and the Olympics. Get your act together, GB. The world is watching.

Main news while I was away was the parliamentary report on the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. And there's another out today. Four reports, the last of the current series. I'll deal with them separately, I think.

Then there was a big anti-nuclear demonstration last weekend in Yoyogi park in Tokyo. Speeches by national treasures: Oe Kenzaburo, Nobel literary prize winner; composer Sakamoto Ryuichi; and Buddhist nun Setouchi Jakucho. The Friday night demos outside the PM's residence gather pace and have spread to other cities. Media saying this is a new phenomena, first spontaneous demonstrations since the anti Japan-US Security Treaty demos in the 1960s and anti Vienam demos in the 1970s. Probably not simply anti-nuclear, more, general  distrust of the government.

But the main thing that struck me as I leafed through the pile of newspapers on my return was what a lot of things are going on here. Lots of visitors/volunteers from every walk of life - the arts, sport, education. Schoolchildren invited to climb Mount Fuji, visit Europe, visit the States. And not just passive either. There are groups going out to other parts of Japan, and the world, to spread the message that Fukushima is OK. On my way home from work last night stumbled on a children's festival, and the streets are being decorated with red and white paper lanterns for the big Matsuri next week.

Better start catching up on sleep to watch the Olympics. The time difference is a big problem here. I'd like to watch the opening ceremony (how on earth will GB cap the Beijing performance?) but it starts at 5:00 am.

My family and friends were disappointed not to get tickets in the first round in February but have managed to buy some now. Not cheap at 160 pounds (20,000 yen) a throw .Japan’s Olympic hopefuls are in judo and gymnastics (of course). And in women’s soccer and women’s wrestling. Some wins here might finally put paid to the myth of Japanese women as Madame Butterfly ...
Anyway, now I'm back in blog mode, I'll try and get the regular reports together again.
Love to all


  1. I live in the London suburb of Greenwich, just over the Thames from the main Olympic site. Indeed we will be hosting the equestrian events in our Royal Park. I have been reading your fascinating blog for about 6 months (I'm a big fan of Japan, having visited twice and looking forward to my next trip out there). Can I reassure your readers that there is great excitement about the Olympics and a great buzz around the Stadium in Stratford (I went to pick up tickets on Sunday). The sun is out again and that has cheered people up. Tickets can be obtained at reasonable prices for most events- provided you are prepared to search the official website on a very frequent basis and an insider who is working in broadcasting and has seen the dress rehearsal assures me that the opening ceremony will be amazing. Anyway, keep up your wonderful blog from the other side of the world.

  2. Thank you. Good to hear from you.
    I'll definitely be setting the alarm clock for 5 am Saturday to watch the opening ceremony. Let's hope for good weather.