Monthly Archives: May 2012

2012 Picture of the Week (21/52) – Solar Eclipse

Just 2 1/2 hours ago, I saw something that hasn’t happened in 173 years in Japan, an annular solar eclipse.  Where I live, I was in the path of totality, which was very fortunate.  Unfortunately, the forecast was for clouds.  Fortunately, the clouds were thin enough at times to be able to see the ring.  It wasn’t very bright, so it was possible to look at it without solar glasses, but only for a brief glance.  It’s still dangerous to look at it for any period.  However, the clouds had a few gaps, so we could use the solar glasses.  It was amazing!  I couldn’t take a picture of the total eclipse, as it was too cloudy for the solar glasses, yet it was too bright for my iPhone to focus on the ring.  All I got was a bright blob where the sun was.  But when the clouds cleared up, I used the solar glasses and my iPhone together to get some pictures.  This was my best picture, shortly after total eclipse.

Annular solar eclipse, shortly after totality.

Did you see the eclipse and take a picture?

[Edit: fixed the last annular eclipse date for Japan.  173 years ago, not 932.]

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Filed under Japan, Picture of the Week

2012 Picture of the Week (20/52) – Ofuna Matsuri

The festival season is starting already. Summer is on its way! Last weekend, Ofuna in Kamakura held its own festival, the Ofuna Matsuri. It’s very small, only covering one city block and consisted of a handful of food stands, a brass band from a junior high school and a parade that featured Miss Kamakura. I didn’t stay for the festival, but I walked through it.

This is about one third of the food stands at the festival.

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Filed under Japan, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Picture of the Week

Dangerous driving in Japan

Recently, there have been several deaths related to careless driving in Japan.  Unfortunately, they’ve involved young children.  Most recently, a 65 year old man plowed through a group of children crossing the street at a crosswalk legally.  He wasn’t paying attention.  The 6 year old girl he hit later died in the hospital.  I hear about this far too often.  Not only do I hear about it, I see it happen.

In the last year, I have nearly been hit by a car no less than 4 times while I was crossing the street on a crosswalk on a walk signal.  3 weeks ago, I was crossing on a walk signal, when a car came around the corner, heading straight for me, and the driver slammed on the brakes.  So many things were wrong with this.  I’d been crossing a wide road, and was almost across when this happened.  He had ample opportunity to see me crossing.  He was cornering too quickly.  He didn’t even use his turn signal.  I had no idea he was going to turn.  I could’ve kicked his car as he came within half a metre of me, but I didn’t.  I just glared at him.  If I’d been crossing the street with my daughter, I’d have been furious.

There is a big problem with drivers in Japan.  Not only do they disregard some basic traffic laws, the police don’t seem to do much about it.  This is what I witness on an almost daily basis:  running red lights, turning without signalling, ignoring pedestrians at crosswalks, speeding on narrow residential streets (the worst offenders are taxi drivers), blocking traffic by parking on narrow streets with hazard lights turned on, and driving at night with no lights on.

When I came to Japan, I was impressed with how well people in Japan can park in a narrow space.  Experts at parking, but really need to review safety rules.  I have a driver’s license, and when I renewed my licensed last year, there was a 2 hour long driving safety seminar that I had to join.  They talked about most of the problems I stated above, but most people just completely ignored the speaker, including the 5 people who were sleeping.  Driving schools teach people how to drive on a closed course, with not much actual driving on real streets.  Many drivers in Japan are “paper drivers.”  Many have gold driver’s licenses, which is supposed to mean very safe and experienced.  However, it really means that they’ve never had an accident or a ticket.  Don’t drive?  No problem!  You get a gold card for being such a safe driver!  It’s ridiculous.

I wish the police would actually get out on the roads and hand out some tickets.  How long will it take for people to wake up?  Will it take 5 more dead kids?  10 more? 20 more?  1 more is too many.  They need to do something now.

The reckless bicycle riders and the bike gangs need to be taken care of, too.

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Filed under Daily Life

2012 Picture of the Week (19/52) – Spring sunset

Today was a beautiful sunny day in Yokohama, and I took this picture as I was leaving work. The sun is setting farther north on the horizon as summer quickly approaches. I thought the colour came out quite well on this photo. No filters as always!

The Tanzawa Mountains are on the left in this sunset picture from Yokohama.

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Filed under Asahi-ku, Japan, Kanagawa, Picture of the Week, Yokohama

Instagram 31-40

I’m on a roll.  For the second week in a row, here is another batch of 10 Instagram pictures.  These pictures were taken from May 30 to June 3, 2011.  Please leave a comment stating which photo you like the most and why, as well as which you like the least and why.  Thanks!

Sunny and very warm now! (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)

Cheeseburger with Swiss cheese at Kua’Aina (Kamakura, Kanagawa)

Dark clouds (Kamakura, Kanagawa)

Hungry? (Kamakura, Kanagawa) – This muskmelon is around $70.

Down to the platform (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)

Schedule board at Futamatagawa station (Asahi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa)

Shonandai high rise apartments (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)

Curvy canopy (Machida, Tokyo)

2 wet balls reflected in the rain (Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa)

You know it’s June when hydrangea start to bloom (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)

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Filed under Asahi-ku, Fujisawa, Instagram, Japan, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Machida, Nishi-ku, Tokyo, Yokohama

Instagram 21-30

Here is the next batch of Instagram pictures.  These were taken on May 27-30, 2011.  As before, please leave a comment stating which picture you like the best and why, as well as which picture you like the least and why.  Thank you!

Red light in the rain (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)

Spiral ramp (Asahi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa)

Huge underground passage connects 3 train lines (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)

Through the door (Izumi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa)

2 Sotetsu trains at the terminal (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)

Rain streaks on the bus

Fast flowing mini river (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)

Video tape on a bus stop bench. They’ve been there for 2 days.

Did someone have sushi delivered?

Biscuit

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Filed under Asahi-ku, Fujisawa, Instagram, Izumi-ku, Japan, Kanagawa, Yokohama

Where my readers live

WordPress recently upgraded their blog stats page, and one thing they introduced is stats by country.  It’s interesting to see where my readers live.  The top 3 are obvious, I think.  After the top 3, some are as expected, while others are a complete surprise.  But here are my top 20:

  1. USA – I’m slightly surprised this is first.
  2. Japan – I thought this would be first, but there is only a difference of 5 visitors.
  3. Canada – It’s where I’m from, and many of my readers are people I know in Canada.
  4. Australia – Another English speaking country.
  5. United Kingdom – Not a surprise.
  6. Singapore – Again, English speaking country, although a tiny one.
  7. Philippines – English speaking yet again.
  8. Indonesia – Seems there are plenty from southeast Asia.
  9. Malaysia – See?  More southeast Asia.  Where are the Europeans?
  10. France – The French like Japanese pop culture, don’t they?
  11. Netherlands – Interesting.  Well, the Dutch were a major player in the early days of European contact with Japan.
  12. Thailand – Back to southeast Asia.
  13. Spain – More Europe.
  14. Russia – A neighbour of Japan’s.  Surprised it’s this low.
  15. Germany – I’ve heard some of my students compare Japanese personality with Germans.
  16. Italy – Italian food is popular in Japan.
  17. Mexico – This one’s a surprise.
  18. India – Lower than I thought.  There are a lot of Indian people in Japan.
  19. Brazil – Also lower than I thought.  A large Brazilian population in Japan.
  20. Tie: Vietnam and South Korea – I honestly thought there’d be more interest in Korea.

So, there we have it.  Any surprises?

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Filed under Blog Announcements