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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kawabata Dori Kyoto


Kawabata Dori runs north-south parallel to the Kamo River on its eastern bank. Kawabata Dori runs from Kitaoji Dori in the north of Kyoto all the way down south to Shichijo, making it one of the longest streets in the city.

Kawabata Dori

Around the bridge at Imadegawa is a popular place for people to cycle, jog, practice musical instruments and picnic and there are fine views here on a clear day to Mt Hiei in the north east of the city.

Kawabata Dori passes the Goethe Insitute Kamogawa Villa, Club Metro at Keihan Marutamachi Station, Kyouen shopping area and the Minamiza Kabuki Theater at Shijo Street in its most interesting section between Imadegawa and Shijo, the very heart of central Kyoto.

Kawabata Dori Kyoto

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Thai Restaurant In Nagoya - Somboon


Somboon has now closed (2015)

Somboon is a small, intimate Thai restaurant in Sakae, the main entertainment district of Nagoya, and rapidly becoming a favorite for a real taste of Thai cuisine.

Thai Restaurant In Nagoya Somboon

Run by a friendly Thai mama-san who speaks both English and Japanese, Somboon offers tasty, authentic and good value lunch and dinner.

Thai Restaurant Somboon

Nishishin Bldg. 2F
4-4-9 Naka-ku
Somboon on Google Maps
Tel: (052) 263 3545
(nearest subway; Sakae exit 2)

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Map of Japan's Prefectures


This map of Japan shows Japan's 47 prefectures from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.

Map of Japan's Prefectures.

The present 47 prefectures date from the reorganization of the old feudal domains (han) which were finally rationalized in 1888.

Hokkaido is the biggest prefecture by area; Kagawa in Shikoku the smallest. In terms of population, Tokyo is the largest Japanese prefecture with over 12,000,000 inhabitants with Tottori the smallest with just over 600,000 people.

Map of Japan's Prefectures.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tokyo two weeks after the earthquake


Tokyo escalator

It is just over two weeks since the massive Sendai earthquake rocked Tokyo. Apart from making a mess of apartments and offices (and slightly bending the tip of Tokyo Tower!) the earthquake caused little structural damage in Tokyo. However, the aftermath is being felt by way of the damage that the ensuing tsunami inflicted on Tokyo Electric Power Company's nuclear power plants in Fukushima.

First of all, Tokyo is generally emptier than usual. There isn't quite as much traffic on the streets, pedestrians on sidewalks, passengers in trains, or customers in stores.

Wide ranging power cuts that were planned for Tokyo have not happened mainly because calls for power conservation have been heeded. Businesses and citizens seem to be cooperating in keeping electricity consumption to a minimum.

Tokyo two weeks after the earthquake

This does make, however, for a curiously dark and dingy Tokyo. Many lights in the normally dazzling subways - even inside the trains - have been switched off. Visibility has barely suffered at all, but that clinically stark white light that characterizes Japanese public spaces is somewhat more sallow.  Escalators in non-major subway stations are no longer in use. Most drink vending machines are turned off.

Tokyo two weeks after the earthquake

Nighttime Tokyo is also suddenly more demure now that the neon signs are no longer flashing.

Perhaps the most disturbing sign of the recent troubles is to be found in food stores. Radiation levels around the reactors have just risen dramatically because of yet unidentified leaks in the facility, and the vegetable racks in Japanese stores clearly reflect this, with any produce from eastern Honshu, north of Tokyo, sitting there untouched.

Bottled water is available, but rationed to one or two bottles per customer, but milk and yogurt are becoming very difficult to find. Unlike toilet paper shortages further west of Tokyo, there seems to be enough to go round in Tokyo.

Vegetables left unsold

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Japan News This Week 27 March 2011


Japan News.Japan Encourages a Wider Evacuation From Reactor Area

New York Times

Nuclear situation 'grave' Japan PM warns

Al Jazeera

Anti-nuclear protests take place in Japan


Japan earthquake survivor's grim search for his mother amid devastation


Sushi From Japan: Safe to Eat?

Huffington Post

Death toll tops 10,000 but nuke crisis hampers search

Japan Times

Japón pide a la población que deje la zona a 30 kilómetros de Fukushima

El Pais



Hatoyama's Confession: The Myth of Deterrence and the Failure to Move a Marine Base Outside Okinawa

Japan Focus

Japan loses to US but treated like a winner

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


Quake Victims by Age

80 or older: 23.2%
70s: 22.9%
60s: 19%
50s: 11.6%
40s: 6.9%
30s: 6%
20s: 3.2%
10s: 3.2%
0-9: 4.1%

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Extension To Sakuradori Subway Line Nagoya


The new Sakuradori Line extension of the Nagoya subway opens on March 27.

Sakura-dori Line, Nagoya

Four new stations have been built to extend the line from Nonami: Narukokita, Aioiyama, Kamisawa and Tokushige. Before the trains started running the local wards held a free competition to select a number of people who could walk the tunnels.

The journey time from Nagoya Station to Tokushige is 35 minutes.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

Nagoya Kanko Hotel


The Nagoya Kanko Hotel is close to the Hilton Hotel in Nagoya's Fushimi district, just off Hirokoji Dori and is the most historic hotel in the city dating from 1936.

Nagoya Kanko Hotel, Fushimi, Nagoya, Japan

Situated only one stop on the subway from Nagoya Station and within walking distance of Sakae - the main entertainment district in town - the Nagoya Kanko Hotel is a luxurious accommodation, that tries to retain its original 1930's feel with wooden floors, chandeliers and original furnishings and prints.

Nagoya Kanko Hotel, Nagoya

The rooms were designed by an English designer and the facilities include Chinese, French and Japanese restaurants, bars, internet access, a gym and large conference and banqueting rooms.

Nagoya Kanko Hotel, Aichi, Japan

Nearby foreigner-friendly bars include the Elephant's Nest British-style pub and Cigar Kanou (Tel: 052-231-5534), a cigar bar on the same street as the Hilton Hotel with outdoor seating, food and a range of foreign cigarettes, cigars and tobacco.

Nagoya Kanko Hotel
1-19-30 Nishiki Naka-Ku
Tel: 052 231 7711

The nearest subway station is Fushimi on the Tsurumai and Higashiyama lines (Exit 8).

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nagoya City Wild Bird Observation Center


After a failed attempt to visit the new SCMaglev & Railway Park at Kinjo Futo at Nagoya Port - the queue was over an hour long - we walked back to Noseki Station on the Aonami Line to take a look at the Nagoya City Wild Bird Observation Center.

City Wild Bird Observation Center Nagoya

The two storey facility is free and has an observation deck on each floor equipped with telescopes to view the many birds in the huge estuary created by the Shonaigawa, Shinkawa and Nikkogawa rivers as they enter the sea.

During spring and autumn thousands of migratory shorebirds rest and feed in the area, which is protected under the 1971 Ramsar Convention on wetlands.

Nagoya City Wild Bird Observation Center

The area known as Fujimae Higata is a vast natural wetland situated within the larger urban area of Nagoya city and is now designated a Special Protection Area by the Japanese Ministry of Environment.

Among the thousands of birds that can be seen at some times throughout the year are plovers, osprey, harriers, gulls, sandpipers, herons, curlews, snipe, egrets, cormorants and many species of ducks.

Nagoya City Wild Bird Observation Center

Adjacent to the Nagoya City Wild Bird Observation Center is the Inae Visitor Center (also free), which has many exhibits to introduce visitors, especially children, to the wildlife inhabiting these amazing wetlands.

Nagoya City Wild Bird Observation Center
Noseki 4-11-12
Inae Park
Tel: 052 381 0160

10 minute walk from Noseki Station on the Aonami Line. There are buses from Nagoya (Kanmeiki #2) & Kanayama stations (Kanmeiki #25) via Tsukiji-guchi Station on the Meiko Line.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Japanese Nail Art Designs

Japanese nail art is increasingly popular with women all over the world.

Japanese Nail Art

Here are a series of images of some of the latest trends in Japanese nail art.

Nail Art

Some of the designs were done in the many nail art salons in Japan or made by the women themselves.

Japanese Nail Art Designs

Themes include acrylic nail chips as well as decoration directly on the natural nails themselves.

Japanese Nail Art Designs

Here's a lovely, but simple nail design.

Japanese Nail Art Design

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Map of Kyoto Shrines & Temples


Use this scrollable map of Kyoto to navigate to some of Kyoto's over 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

Find information on Ota Shrine famous for its irises in May, Hiko Shrine in Yawata, a quirky shine dedicated to flight, Go'o Shrine close to the Imperial Palace (Gosho) and Yoshida Shrine near Kyoto University known for its lively Setsubun festival.

View Kyoto Temples & Shrines Map in a larger map

Temples covered on the map include Shisendo in Higashiyama, Ginkakuji and Kinkakuji and the less well-known Enkoji Temple.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

Plum Tree Imperial Palace Kyoto

Plum Tree Imperial Palace Kyoto京都御所にある梅の木

A small plum tree with new blossoms stands in the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

Winter has been cold and long this year, so the plum trees have bloomed later than usual.

Recent events in Tohoku have cast a long, sad, tragic shadow over spring. While relief efforts strive to alleviate the suffering, spring is on its way.

The first sign of that is the plum trees with their pink blossoms and lovely scent.

The best known place in Kyoto for plums is Kitano Tenmangu Shrine; however, the Imperial Palace has quite a few.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japan News This Week 20 March 2011


Japan News.In Japan’s Danger Zone, the Stranded Await the Merciful

New York Times

Japan races to restart water pumps

Al Jazeera

Japan raises nuclear alert level


Emergency power cable reaches Japan nuclear plant


Battle-proof Wind Farms Survive Japan's Trial by Fire

Huffington Post

Yen declines as G7 starts intervention

Japan Times

Japón eleva el nivel de alerta nuclear

El Pais



‘Koreans, Go Home!’ Internet Nationalism in Contemporary Japan as a Digitally Mediated Subculture

Japan Focus

Japan’s J.League postponed indefinitely - local media

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


Radiation level in Tokyo, March 18th:

0.050 (normal: 0.079)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Walking Holidays in Japan

One of the best things about traveling to Japan is that even in the age of modernization and industrialization, it's still a land that caters to walking. Walking is as free as it is liberating, and it's coming into fashion of late as good exercise as well as a popular means of having one's holiday.

Despite its high-tech image, Japan remains a nation of beautiful contrasts. It therefore holds its natural scenery and ancient architecture in as high esteem as its latest gadgets. Although you can walk your way around Tokyo or Osaka easily enough, there's something to be said about spending one's afternoon moseying through mountains littered with temples and roaring waterfalls.

Popular Destinations

Walking tours of Japan can keep you to just one of the primary islands or across all four via bullet train when you're not breaking in your new pair of shoes. Some popular destinations include but are not limited to the following.

• Kamakura, the former capital of Japan. You'll see the Daibutsu here (a giant, bronze Buddha) as well as countless shrines, some of them older than 800 years.

• Mount Fuji, a symbol of natural Japan. Nearby is the postcard-perfect lake country of Hakone.

• Kyoto, complete with geisha and geiko, canals, Nijo Castle, and the Golden Temple Kinkaku-ji.

• Hiroshima, the city that had been predicted to stay ashes and dust for 100 years but is today no less than bustling and lively. You'll see the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Memorial Park. Just a train ride away is Miyajima, a sacred island with a floating torii. The corresponding Itsukushima Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

• The Old Nakasendo Trail, connecting Tokyo to the mountains. Ancient samurai walked this route.

Kumano Kodo, a network that runs throughout the Kii Peninsula, from Kyoto to Kumano. You'll see the three Grand Shrines of Kumano.

Dates, Prices, and Perks

Dates and prices vary, of course, but most cost around £3000 and last about 2 weeks. Because you use your own feet for travel half of the time instead of being driven from place to place in what feels like a cattle car, walking tours can be more affordable than typical overseas holidays. Your sightseeing isn’t cut short as it can be when a bus driver starts tapping his wristwatch. Walking takes time; that's more time for you to breathe fresh air, admire the natural and historic beauties of Japan, and make fond memories.

Image of the author
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degrees, and what it takes to succeed as a student getting an online associates degree remotely from home.

In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Earthquake 3/11 2.46


It is exactly a week since a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the coast of Sendai at 2.46pm in the afternoon of Friday 11 March, 2011.

The day has been marked by a minute's silence at various gatherings around Japan: in offices, factories, university graduation ceremonies and centers for the thousands of displaced people.

Japan Earthquake 3/11 2.46

6,405 people have died and around 10,200 others are missing after the tragedy with the numbers predicted to rise in to the tens of thousands. The damaged nuclear reactor in Fukushima is still not yet under control and continues to emit radiation into the environment.

The disaster became a huge international media event with minute-by-minute updates on international news networks and massive coverage on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Some foreign embassies in Tokyo have relocated their operations from Tokyo as well as urging their nationals to evacuate from the Japanese capital or leave Japan altogether.

Sales of Geiger counters and Potassium iodide tablets have skyrocketed in countries far removed from Japan's borders. Many people have fled from Tokyo to escape the aftershocks, transport chaos and repeated blackouts.

There have been shortages of such things as bottled water, diapers, toilet rolls and instant ramen but in general there has been a remarkable stoicism displayed by the local people who seem determined to carry on with their daily lives.

Japan Earthquake 3/11

The post-mortem on the preparedness of the Japanese government and the country's nuclear industry for disaster on this vast a scale has yet to be delivered and it remains to be seen if the tragic events of 3/11 will change the direction of Japan as it emerges from this most harrowing moment in its history.

The well-known apathy of Japanese youth and the entrenched power of the country's business and bureaucratic elites would seem to augur that things will go on as normal without much introspection, angst or collective debate.

At the public event I attended today, few mentioned the traumatic week all the people living in Japan have experienced. The public mentality is to block out and ignore the unpleasant and yearn for the normal state of affairs.

As the media circus passes on to other more newsworthy stories it remains to be seen how deeply the events of 2.46pm, March 11 will change how things are done here in Japan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sakai City Museum

Sakai City Museum.境市博物館

Located in Daisen Park, in Sakai City, the Sakai City Museum has an interesting collection of items related primarily related to the following:

Emperor Nintoku Tumulus (which is across the street)

Industry and Culture in Sakai

History of Sakai

This can be combined with a visit to the tomb and a bicycle museum, which is also in the park.

The tomb is run and maintained by the Imperial Household Agency - which means you cannot go in. A peek from outside the moat is the extent of a visit.


Located in Daisen Park
Mozusekiun-cho 2-cho, Sakai-ku, Sakai, Osaka
Tel: 072 245 6263

Fee: 100 yen for permanent collection


From JR Mozu Station on the Hanwa Line (22 minutes from JR Tennoji Station), a six-minute walk.

© JapanVisitor.com

2 Liters of Water & 4 Liters of Whisky


I went looking for bottled water and toilet paper in Nagoya tonight not because I am dehydrated or suffering from diarrhoea, but because I read on Twitter they were in short supply. Indeed both "necessities" were. I couldn't find either item in any of the many convenience stores, liquor stores or supermarkets I cycled past.

Empty shelves

Since the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Sendai and the subsequent nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, certain goods in Japan such as bottled water, diapers, toilet rolls and instant ramen have become suddenly unavailable, even in cities over 500km from the affected area. You eat, you drink, you defecate. Life reduced to its very survival basics.

Sold out of water sign

I did however discover something I have never seen before. A 4 liter (four litre!) bottle of whisky, lots of them in fact. "Ocean Lucky Whisky" seemed particularly inapt.

Whisky on sale

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tohoku Japan Earthquake Radiation Levels by Prefecture


At roughly 5 pm local time, March 16, the radiation levels were (the figure in parenthesis is the average daily peak level):

Hokkaido: 0.029 (0.105)
Aomori: 0.029 (0.102)
Iwate: 0.042 (0.084)
Miyagi: 0.194 (0.051)
Akita: 0.039 (0.086)
Yamagata: 0.114 (0.082)
Fukushima: No data
Ibaragi: 1.035 (0.056)
Ibaraki: 0.337 (0.067)
Gunma: 0.501 (0.045)
Saitama: 0.208 (0.060)
Chiba: 0.141 (0.044)
Tokyo: 0.143 (0.079)
Kanagawa: 0.153 (0.069)
Aichi: 0.044 (0.074)
Kyoto: 0.041 (0.087)
Osaka: 0.051 (0.061)
Okinawa: 0.022 (0.058)

The levels are measured in microsieverts.

Note: The US government apparently believes the Japanese government is underestimating and or understating these figures. The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission is advising all people to stay 50 miles away from the Fukushima reactors, which is considerably greater than the Japanese recommendation of 12 miles.

Source: Asahi Newspaper

© JapanVisitor.com

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Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami & Radiation Update


The ongoing crisis with the nuclear facilities at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) plant on the coast of north eastern Japan south of the city of Sendai has overshadowed the relief operation and the suffering of the survivors of the mega quake and tsunami in the surrounding Tohoku area.

Bitter cold and snow allied to lack of transport and power supplies are making conditions increasing grim for the thousands and thousands of people stranded in makeshift shelters.

As fears of radiation increase in Tokyo more and more people, especially foreign residents, but also increasing numbers of local Japanese, appear to be leaving the Japanese capital, where travel chaos, frequent, strong aftershocks and growing shortages of some basics appear more of an immediate discomfort than the threat of radiation.

The UK government's travel advice taken in consultation with the UK's Chief Scientic Officer Sir John Beddington of Imperial College states that there is no immediate danger to those people outside the 20km exclusion zone set up by the government of PM Naoto Kan.

The scale of the human tragedy that Japan has suffered since March 11 remains truly saddening.

© JapanVisitor.com

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Support Japan T-shirts

Support Japan

This shirt has been designed as part of an effort to raise funds to support the much-needed rescue and relief efforts in northern Japan. Designed and printed by MB Prints in Nagoya, the shirt is 100% cotton and carries the details (magnitude, time and date) of the earthquake that has caused such devastation: 8.9 14:49 3-11-2011.

Support Japan T-shirts

If you're in Japan and/or prefer to pay in Yen, you can also buy these shirts directly from MB Prints. If you'd like to help out directly, you can donate by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999. The text will automatically donate $10 to the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief fund of the American Red Cross.

¥1500 (approx. $18.50) from the sale of these t-shirts will go directly to the Japanese Red Cross

Support Japan T-shirts

Osaka Loewe Shop Umeda

Osaka Loewe大阪ロエベ梅田店

The Spanish luxury goods shop Loewe has a brilliant, eye-catching sign at its Umeda store.

A short walk from Osaka Station, on the opposite side of the street from the Hilton Hotel, the deep pink sign glowed warmly on a cold March night.

On our way to an Elvis Costello concert around the corner, we were nearly tempted to pop in and check out an Amazona 28 bag.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tokyo Power Cuts Update II


Power cuts announced for Tokyo since the weekend have so far all been postponed, largely to people's cooperation in reducing electricity consumption. However, the latest news is that they can no longer be postponed, and will be happening from this evening - in fact, as this blog entry is being written.

Please go the Yahoo Japan Emergency Information website for details.

Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake 

Read more about electricity in Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Dead and Missing


As of March 14, midnight, the number of dead and missing by prefecture:

Hokkaido: 1 dead
Aomori: 3 dead, 1 missing
Iwate: 795 dead, 3,341 missing
Miyagi: 1,823 dead, 10,911 missing
Yamagata: 1 dead
Fukushima: 431 dead, 1,573 missing
Ibaragi: 20 dead
Ibaraki: 4 dead
Gunma: 1 dead
Chiba: 16 dead, 7 missing
Tokyo: 7 dead
Kanagawa: 7 dead

Total: 3,105 dead, 15,833 missing

These numbers are sure to increase as rescue work continues.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tomb of Emperor Nintoku

Tomb of Emperor Nintoku人徳天皇百舌鳥耳原中隆

South of Osaka in the port city of Sakai are a series of tumuli dating from the third to seventh centuries A.D.

The raised mounds - many acres in scale - are known as "kofun" in Japanese.

They are the final resting place of emperors and the aristocracy of early Japan.

This tomb, which is administered by the Imperial Household Agency - and off-limits not just to visitors but also to archeologists - is thought to have been built in the early 5th century.

It contains the remains of the emperor Nintoku.

From above, the tomb is key-shaped. It has never been excavated.

It covers 115 acres, and your visit begins and ends at the point from which this photo was taken.


From Tennoji Station, on the JR Loop Line, take the Hanwa Line to Mozu Station. six-minute walk.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tokyo power cut - change to Group 5

東京停電 情報

It has just been announced that Group 5 areas in the greater Tokyo area may well be subject to power cuts between 5pm and 7pm this evening.

◆Group 5







【神奈川県】愛川町、清川村、伊勢原市、横浜市磯子区、同栄区、同戸塚区、同港北区、同青葉区、同泉区、同都筑区、同南区、同緑区、海老名市、鎌倉市、 茅ケ崎市、厚木市、寒川町、座間市、秦野市、川崎市宮前区、同高津区、同多摩区、同中原区、同麻生区、相模原市、相模原市中央区、同南区、同緑区、大磯 町、二宮町、城山町、相模湖町、津久井町、藤沢市、平塚市


© JapanVisitor.com

Tokyo power cut groups by area

停電 グループ

The greater Tokyo area has been divided into five groups for the purposes of timing the power cuts made necessary by damage to electricity generation facilities due to the earthquake and tsunamis of March 11.

The five groups, and the scheduled times of the power cuts for each group are as below.

(Even if you can't read Japanese, just find the name of your area online, copy it, and do a search of the list below.)

◆Group 1 (morning of March 14 to 10am, 4.50pm to 8.30pm)









◆Group 2 (morning of March 14 from 9.20am to 1pm, 6.20pm to 10pm)








◆Group 3 (From 20 past midnight on the morning of March 14 to 4pm)






◆Group 4 (March 14 1.50pm to 5.30pm)







◆Group 5 (March 14 3.20pm - 7pm)









More news will be posted as it becomes available.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tokyo Train Service Reduced Due to Earthquake and Power Cuts


Train companies in Tokyo have announced that there will be irregular operation, including out of service hours. A summary of service is noted below:

JR Lines:

Normal service on Yamanote line, Chuo Kaisoku (Rapid) (Tokyo-Tachikawa), Keihin Tohoku (Kamata-Akahane), Tokiwa Kaisoku (Ueno-Matsudo), Joban Keikosen (Ayase - Matsudo).

All other service suspended.

Tokyo Metro: Reduced Service on all lines 

Odakyu Lines: Romance Car service not running. Otherwise, trains will run approximately every 15 minutes.

Keio Lines: The Keio and Inokashira Lines will be running at half normal service.

Tokyu Lines: Kurihama Line will not be running for some periods. All other lines at half normal service.

Keisei Lines: Trains not running from 11 am to 5 pm. From the first trains until 11 am, half normal service. Chiba and Chihara Lines out of service.

Seibu Lines: Reduced service on all lines.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tokyo Power Cuts Update


Officials at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) have revised the scheduled blackout for today.

However information remains sketchy. There was a report on NHK this morning, during which the same officials merely stated that power service may be disrupted and would most likely be irregular.

The company's site (in Japanese only) has yet to be updated.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tokyo power cuts

東京 停電

The Tokyo Electric Power Company has instituted a 5-group system of power cuts for much of the greater Tokyo area.

The latest information for times and areas for power cuts for the 5 groups are as follows:

List of the Tokyo power cut areas covered by each group.

UPDATE: as of Monday morning, March 14, Tokyo Electric Power Company has announced that the start of the power cuts has been pushed back, and the power cuts for Group 1, scheduled for today, will not happen yet.

NB Information about almost everything related to the emergency situation in Japan is prone to inaccuracy and subject to constant change.

Stay tuned for further updates.

© JapanVisitor.com

Japanese andromeda

馬酔木 アセビ

Despite the earthquake we are continuing our regular features as the vast majority of Japan remains unaffected by the tragic events in the Tohoku area. Here are some lovely flowers to celebrate the coming of spring.

Japanese andromeda plant

This Japanese andromeda started blooming on my verandah two or three weeks ago, i.e. in late winter. It is also known as a Japanese pieris, is a member of the heath family, and is native to Japan, Taiwan and eastern China. It is called an asebi in Japanese.

The beautiful pink-white flower clusters range in length - mainly according to their stage of development - some of them shorter as in the photo above, others up to about 20cm as in the photo below. The buds are dark pink, and the flowers start off much the same color and gradually grow whiter.

The newly blossomed flowers have very little scent, but the subtle scent they do have increases slightly as they grow.

Japanese andromeda flower

Apparently the leaves are poisonous - at least to livestock, and probably to humans too.

These are the most beautiful flowers on my plant-crowded verandah at the moment, but I'm looking forward to sharing equally attractive sights as spring approaches.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fears Over Meltdown At Fukushima Reactors


Sunday's Japanese and English press headlined the growing fears of a nuclear meltdown at two reactors on the coast of Fukushima, south of the port city of Sendai after a shutdown triggered by the megaquake on Friday.

Fears Over Meltdown At Fukushima

A special gogai was also distributed outside major railway stations dedicated to the possible nuclear catastrophe, evoking memories of the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago, that is unfolding on the north east coast.

Both the Fukushima No. 1 and Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plants operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) shut down successfully after the earthquake on Friday, but the subsequent tsunami seems to have knocked out their cooling systems and lead to the possibility of a potentially devastating meltdown of the nuclear fuel rods.

Officials have attempted to use seawater to cool the rods in the Fukushima Daiichi plant before a hydrogen leak caused a dramatic explosion blowing the concrete walls away from the reactor.

Around 200,000 people have been evacuated from a 20km exclusion zone around the reactors. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, issued warnings to evacuees to place a wet towel over their faces as a precautionary measure.

Release of radioactive vapor into the atmosphere to ease the pressure in the reactors has been announced, though the government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has reassured nearby residents not to panic.

A number of workers at the plant have been hospitalized with radiation sickness following the earlier blast.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tohoku Earthquake Map


This map of the Tohoku region in north eastern Japan around the major port city of Sendai shows the affects of the megaquake of 3/11 and the huge tsunami that has destroyed many of the coastal towns to the north.

View Tohoku Earthquake Map in a larger map

© JapanVisitor.com

Japan Earthquake Aftermath News

地震 東京 ニュース

Two days after the massive earthquake that rocked eastern Japan, the effects are still very apparent.

Most noticeable are the constant aftershocks, one of the largest of which so far - magnitude 3 here in Tokyo - struck just as I began writing this entry (Sunday morning, about 10:27 a.m.). Basically, the aftershocks are more or less constant, with quivering evident almost as often as not. However, the aftershocks that "register" are notable for their length, often lasting a minute or more.

Hundreds of aftershocks with a magnitude of 5 or more are being registered daily, any one of them normally newsworthy in their strength.

Go shopping anywhere and the queues and crowds are like nothing I have ever seen before in Japan. People in Tokyo are stocking up in anticipation of the worst, and many store shelves are sparse or empty.

There is nothing but earthquake news on TV - less like the "news" you sit back and watch, and more like "bulletins" you hang on every word of: constantly updated clips that are keeping an anxious citizenry informed of the latest, whether the state of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima with its threatened meltdown, where trucks distributing fresh water can be located (further north - Tokyo is fine), the outlook on power distribution (over 3 million homes in the north of Japan are without power, and power cuts affecting even Tokyo are expected from tomorrow, Monday), the progress of rescue efforts, and the accompanying sobering statistics on numbers missing, injured or dead. The death toll - mainly from tsunami - is now in its thousands.

New video footage is constantly being posted of the destruction caused by tidal waves, especially in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, where whole towns have been swamped and ravaged to a degree that almost defies belief.

In Tokyo things have gotten a little closer to normalcy with the reopening of the city's highways yesterday around noon, reducing the congestion that had been blighting the ground-level roads. Tokyo's rail and subway system is largely back to normal running.

The gas supply of the building I live in was restored yesterday, but the elevator is still out of order, meaning a 13-floor descent and climb of the stairs whenever we go out.

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Japan News This Week 13 March 2011


Japan News.Powerful Quake and Tsunami Devastate Northern Japan

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Japanese wartime record defended

Al Jazeera

Japan protest over 'dangerous' China helicopter fly-by


Japan battles to stave off possible nuclear meltdown


Two women among quake dead identified

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'Shogun 2' recrea el Japón medieval

El Pais



Hatoyama's Confession: The Myth of Deterrence and the Failure to Move a
Marine Base Outside Okinawa

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New Zealand match against Japan 'in doubt'

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Last Week's News


Domestic violence cases set a record in Japan in 2010.

The number of cases recorded by the police hit 33,852, which was more than 5,000 more than in the previous year.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tohoku Earthquake The Morning After


Both the Japanese and English press in Japan devote most of today's newspapers to the megaquake and huge tsunami that has ravaged a large area around the port city of Sendai in north eastern Japan.

Tohoku Earthquake press

Latest news available confirms over 350 fatalities and over a 1,000 people missing feared dead in the worst hit prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, Ibaraki and Fukushima.

Radioactive materials are thought to have leaked at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and residents have been evacuated at the scene.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has left Tokyo by helicopter this morning to inspect the damage caused and co-ordinate the massive relief efforts now underway.

Four passenger trains running along the coast of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures are missing.

Water supplies remain distrupted in many of the affected areas along with power outages in some districts.

The US has dispatched the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan to the area and the Tortuga, a US Navy amphibious ship stationed in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu is to head to the scene.

The Japan Meteorological Agency continues to issue information on aftershocks in the region.

Sporting events have been cancelled across the country including all today's J-League soccer matches.

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Tokyo Earthquake Trashed My Apartment


I came home from the office a little earlier than usual yesterday. When the earthquake struck the office in Kojimachi, I was actually out on the street, coming back from the local post office. The first thing I noticed was feeling unsteady on my feet. As I looked down to keep my balance and then looked up again, everything around me was violently swaying, and the old parking building I had stopped in front of was making dreadful creaking and groaning sounds as the the tremors wracked it. You can see the video I took once I'd regained my presence of mind here.

Fortunately that day it was fine and I had ridden my bicycle to work instead of taking the train. Coming home was an obstacle course. The trains were stopped, and the freeways - being all overhead - were closed. The streets of Tokyo were thronged with pedestrians and the streets jammed with traffic like I'd never seen it before. For those who work in Tokyo, not being able to take the train - typically at least half an hour, sometimes up to two hours out of Tokyo - means being totally stranded.

Then when I got home, the elevator was out, so I had to climb the 13 floors. Then walking in, OMG! - check out the above video!

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Tohoku Earthquake Update


The scale of the devastation is becoming clear after the huge earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the Tohoku region of north eastern Japan near the major city of Sendai.

TV news channels are reporting a confirmed death toll of over 100 people with unconfirmed stories of 200-300 bodies in the city of Sendai. The airport in the city has been flooded and there are also reports of a passenger train having been swept away on the coast.

Tohoku Earthquake on TV

Tohoku Electric Power Company's Onagawa nuclear plant experienced a fire and the earlier story of a malfunction at the Tokyo Electric Power nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, seems to be causing concern.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific Coast of Japan with waves of upto 3m in places.

Tohoku Earthquake

Emergency message boards telephone numbers

03 5452 8800
050 3369 9680

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