Thursday, July 24, 2008

Earthquake in Iwate

Despite the high heat and humidity (currently 29C/74%) we had a good pickup ultimate game in Hiroo last night. Many of the normal handlers on our team were not there so I got a chance to pretend I was handler.

Afterward I made a quick dinner with miso soup, grilled aji (horse mackerel), rice, green salad, corn on the cob (JPY300 for two ears), and leftover okonomiyaki.

Just as I was getting ready to shower before bed last night the building began to shake, and continued to do so for about 30 seconds. Nothing fell over. The earthquake was centered in Iwate prefecture and although it struck when most people were already at home, some 90 people were taken to the hospital with injuries. NHK coverage showed lots of broken window glass, fallen brick, and cracked ceilings. As a result of watching the coverage I didn't get to bed until 2am.

These events are always good motivation to inspect the contents of my "evacuation" backpack. Time to restock as it turned out.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Increased Security For the Hokkaido Summit

The upcoming G8 summit meeting in Hokkaido has been on my radar for some time now. Large posters in Japanese and English are all over the subway system explaining the presence of the safety-orange vest wearing security guards on patrol. Starting this past week these have also been reinforced with uniformed police who are highly visible, batons drawn and ready, outside the ticket gates at every station I've used recently. Minako suggested that this could be explained because the diplomats might be flying in to Tokyo and then catching connecting flights to the summit venue in the far north.

When I went shopping yesterday near my workplace, I noticed three officers standing at attention next to three separate telescoping metal gates, ready to block off their respective roads. I had certainly seen these gates around town before, as they're a permanent fixture on the roads anywhere near the US embassy, but this was the first time I'd seen them on the way to the market. It turns out, according to Google Maps, that the German Embassy is directly behind National Azabu. There is a building marked as "Chinese People's Japanese Cooperation Building, Embassy Annex" close by, and the French, Norwegian, and Finnish embassies are each just a block away, in different directions. I knew this was a big embassy area, but I didn't realize how dense they really are on the ground here. I have to say all this security makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it's time to start seriously considering the move to someplace quiet, like Hokkaido. Oh, wait...where was that summit going on again?

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