Category: Japan

05 Apr

Throw Away Batteries, It’s Time To Be Eco

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

After all these problems of nuclear plant in Japan, a lot of doubt and argument have arisen in the world and some countries have already decided to close down their nuclear plants.

german nuclear plantsGerman is one of those countries. Today, on the 5th of April, the German government decided to switch off seven of its oldest nuclear power plants until a safety review is completed. (by Reuters)


In Tokyo and surrounding prefectures are still on rotating power cut and this is believed to continue until the summer next year.

By Tokyo Bay, where the Tokyo Disney Land is, liquefaction is severe and the people in that area still don't have running water nor electricity. Not only the people in the shelter in Touhoku region but also in Tokyo region are forced to have uncomfortable life. A friend of my mother goes to a hotel near the station to wash her face and teeth in the morning, then goes to a Konbini for the toilet. She lives in a zone just next to my mother but the difference is big.


eco clock


Now we are a little suspicious about nuclear energy. People are reviewing natural energies such as the wind power generation or solar electiricity generation system. 

Yet better, forget about all these power system and use pure natural resources such as water, for instance. Throw away battery and be green. It's time to be eco.


This is an eco water battery alarm clock, Time H20.


Just fill the water into the bottle, the clock starts ticking. We don't need to rush to the supermarket for batteries anymore. Maybe they should invent torch too.


I wanted to know how it's possible that the water can be an energy. So, I've investigated a bit.


What I've found was this. A Japanese company called Genepax has succeeded to develop a new power source, "Water energy system" which generates power just by pouring the water directly. 

eco car


This system is based on hydrogen fuel cell development but is much cheaper to produce hydrogen and emits less CO2. Genepax has even made an eco car that runs with water instread of petro. Amazing. Imagine using this car in Tohoku region right now. No one will need to queue for a litre of petro nor having problems to deliver supplies to devastated area. 



Aallocation of energyt the moment the proportion of the power resources in Japan is like this.

Japan covers its energy supply with thermal power generation (60%) and nuclear power (31%).

But Genepax insists that a glass of water can be the new energy source of the earth. Especially in the situation like Japan now, not depending on any man-made energy could save people more rapidly. 



You can see the system of generation with the water in animation. I wasn't a good student in chemistry or physics but I'm sure some of you can understand much better than me.


With 1 litre of water, the car can run for an hour with 80km of velocity. Well, it's not a ferrari but who need that speed in such as small island? Also at the same time we can be nice to the environment.

Reading this articule about Genepax, I thought that Japan's technology isn't that bad as I was a bit disappointed with Japan's robots technology, and I even had a good feeling about this company. So I checked their website. What I've found was… hahaha they have closed down, at least at the moment due to the difficulty of the development. To be nice to the earth seems to cost a lot.

04 Apr

Iwaki Hula Girls Revive-Jouban Hawaiian Centre

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Iwaki city, Fukushima is one of the places which had a damage from the quake attacked on the 11th of March. In 1965, a town of Iwaki city was a small coal mining town that was about to close due as oil became the predominant energy resource in Japan. Some families left the town to move to other coal mine and some stayed desperately.

To save the town, the mining company developed a plan to use hot springs, which seeped into the mines, to provide heat for a Joban Hawaiian Centre spa resort. The mine owner thought that they needed a spectacle to attract the customers, a "famous" dancer was recruited from Tokyo as a instructor to train local girls to be hula dancers.

This story became a film which was on show in 2006. As the UK made Full Monty, Japan made Hula Girls. Like any coal mining town which had closed down at the expansion of oil or nuclear energy, people who lived for the mine had a hard time. The film is sad but somehow comical and cheerful. If you haven't seen it, it's worth it, gives you a bit of power.

Here is the trailer of Hula Girls.


Iwaki city lost 277 people from the earthquake and tsunami. Now with the accident in Fukushima Daiichi, no visitors will come to the Joban Hawaiian Centre because of the fear for the radiation.

first hula girlsThis triggered the memory of the owner of the Joban Hawaiian Centre, Mr. Saitou who accompanied the first Hula Girls all over Japan to promote the centre. He says this reputation is worse than closing the mine.

Mr. Satou has decided to revive tour of Hula Girls after 45 years to cheer people still living in the shelter and to recover Fukushima.


hula girlsEx Iwaki Hula Girls are also part of thie project. They have decided to hold Japan Hula "highschool" Girls Competition in Koushien, Osaka. After the quake, this project seemed to have fallen through but 13 high schools rose their hand to compete and moreover, they did a campaign to raise funds for the event.

This competition will be held in the summer.

I hope that by summer, the smile will back to many people's faces.



More about Japanese TV program and films

Sorano otoshimono


Swing Girls


04 Apr

Save Fukushima-Arriving High-Tech Robots

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

After three weeks since the huge earthquake attacked Japan, the Japanese government now asks for the help to all robots in the world.

In the website of AUVSI (the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) in the US, appeared a notification saying "Japanese government seeks robots and unmanned aircrafts in the world". 

QuinetiQ has already sent to TEPCO a roader and now send two other robots, Talon and Dragon Runner.



Talon is the one of the first robots in the US military and used for searching bombs and disposing them. This was introduced to the war scene in Afghanistan and to NY after the 9/11. Talon sent to Japan has the radioactivity monitor and an infrared camera.



dragon runner



Dragon Runner is a small robots developed for the US Matine, to reconnoiter insde the building and to search underneath of vehicles. 

In Fukushima Daiichi, it is thought that this can be used for checking all the small damages inside the rectors.


dragon runner 2


At the moment, Japan is seeking three types of robots, to curry heavy things and people, small robots for revising the rectors and unmanned aircrafts and vehicles to carry supply to contaminated area.


monitoring robotsIn my last articule about robots, I said it was a shame that there was no Japanese robots came to save their own country and that robots kingdom Japan completely failed. Now, finally Japanese robots do rescue us. These are disaster monitoring robots which Nuclear Safety Technology Centre  developed in 2000. However they have never operated in the real disaster scene. 


Hmm, first it took so long to decide not to sacrifice human life by using robots, and the second, Japan makes pretty faced robots but not practical. Here, I still see the problem though.

03 Apr

Report from Tokyo 5-The Last Feast?

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

ready-made rice“The last supper” maybe a too big Word but my stock of ready-made rice packs are coming to the end.

Last night, I decided to treat myself and bought some beef produced in not contaminated area (Kagoshima prefecture) and Belgian beer, Hoegaarden White.

kagoshima beef



By the way, Kagoshima beef is one of the good quality beef in Japan as well as Kobe beef. I´ve forgotten to take photos and this is from the internet but, look this beautiful piece of meet! 


So, like this, I had a small feast for myself.

Apart from tonight, I have to make a decision, either use the water that is detected radioactivity or find alternative thing for water.


Well, this might be a good oportunity to try how rice can taste cooked with tea or vegetable juice.


If it’s unbearable, I’ll use the tap water despite of the fear for the radiation.

In case I have to use tap water, I’ve got iodine tablets that is said it´s effective for radioiodine in the water.

iodine tabletI was given this Chinese made tablets from a friend of mine. They just look like tablets for soar throat, but I just have to believe that this can save me from the radiation damage.


Anyway, the dinner for the night went…

2 packets of ready-made rice,

Kagoshima beef steak,  

Simmeredpumpkin (frozen food), and Hoegaarden White.

Hmm, how nice! Probably I won´t have such a feast for a while…. Hahaha but that was good.


02 Apr

Touhoku representative, Daniel Kahl speaks of Japan Earthquake

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

daniel kahlDaniel Kahl is an American TV presenter (テレビタレント/ terebi tarento) in Japan. He is famous for his accent. He speaks fluent Japanese but his Yamagata accent makes people laugh as it's not a so common accent to have for a foreigner. Imagine a Japanese speaks fluent English in Liverpool accent for example.      


He's been reporting about the situation in Japan after the quake attack in Twitter and Youtube. He points out overseas' media's exaggerated broadcast but at the same time appreciates all the support he's received from the people outside of Japan.

I agree with him. I've read various foreign newspapers and articles written about Japan.  Some quite critical, some sympathetic. Among them, I've found BBC was quite neutral and objective.

I wouldn't say that all information the Japanese government tells us is trustworthy but neither would say that every overseas media show us is completely real. One day, a Japanese girl phoned me and told me that an European TV news were saying that the Japanese government was lying and hiding the information from Japanese people. Hence I better told my family living in Tokyo to run away. She was so scared and panicked that kept ringing me all day until I picked up the phone.

I think under these circumstances, the most I want to avoid to do is to be panicked and to make people panicked. What for? But as well as Daniel Kahl, I know that from my experiences, many people outside of Japan support us and send us all the wish. I myself has received many messages and phone calls from many places in the world. Thank you so much.

Now I leave you to Daniel Kahl's Japan report. This is his last report so far because he has decided to go to the devastated area in the north to help them. Let's wait for his new report.


01 Apr

Tarou Machi – Japan’s Fortress Town Defeated by Tsunami

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

taromachi, fishingIn Miyako city, Iwate prefecture, there is a little fishing village called Tarou Machi. The town had (not "has" unfortunately) 1,600 houses and 4,400 inhabitants.

It is usually a quiet town where majority of the residents are quite old. The huge rock sticking from the sea is called Tarou Iwa (Tarou rock) which had become the origin of the name of the town. Tarou is a common name for boys which means "first born boy" in Japanese. Apparently this rock was named "Tarou" as a symbol of men…. Eh huh, now because they say, well you know..


stmbol of tarou

Tarou Machi is a quite unfortunate town that they were attacked by two big tsunami in the last 100 years, one was in 1897 and lost 1,859 people's lives, the second one was in 1933 which 911 people went missing or died.




tarou machi antes 1933After the quake in 1897






tarou machi 1897



Village before the second Tsunami in 1933




tarou machi after 1933


After the tsunami destroyed the village in 1933





From this experiences, Tarou Machi had built the biggest banks in Japan, which ran through all the town from the south to the north and from the east to the west. The town was completely surrounded by 10m-high and 2,800m-length of giant banks. 

tarou machi 1The town was known as a Tsunamiproof town and often had visitors even from the overseas to study their bank. This bank protected the people from Tsunami in 1960 caused by the earthquake attacked Chile and the damage was minimum.

The bank was a proud of Tarou Machi. Maybe people trusted this bank too much, perhaps.


In many of cities, towns or villages there is a saying, "when tsunami comes, don't care about anyone even it's your family, just run to higher place. You can meet them if you are alive".  Following this lesson, many children survived this tsunami. A little school boy responded later to the interview, "I was worried about my family but before anything, I was running to the higher place. I reunited with my family later in a shelter" 

tarou machi 2

This was what the people in Taro Machi had to do. But as they relied on this monster fortress, took while for them to realise, the banks were powerless in front of this tsunami.

Tsunami came way higher than the 10m-high bank and gulped it so easily.

In the oficial announcement, tsunami attacked Japan this time reached 10m, however according to the witnesses and the evidence the tsunami left, in some places in Iwate and Miyagi prefecture it seemed to have reached 15m high.


taroumachi 3Besides too much confidence in the Japan's No.1 fortress, this predator (tsunami) came soon after the earthquake, didn't give people any time to go up to the safer place. And the worst thing was most of the residents in Tarou Machi were elder and couldn't make a quick move. Since the earthquake happened during the business hour, many of young people were working outside of the town. 

Tarou Machi was completely defeated. The fortress was destroyed. As the town was merged into Miyako city while ago, there is no official number of death and missing perope in Tarou Machi at the moment.

taroumachi after the quakeAgain, in front of the nature, we are powerless. It's pointless try to fight against it. The people in Tarou Machi who survived this has learnt from this a lot and so we have.

31 Mar

Anime Characters Support for Japan Earthquake Devastated Area

Juju Kurihara 2 Comments

Nearly 3 weeks are passing since a huge earthquake attacked Japan. We still have lots of problems that seem to have no ending. Still 172,472 people are evacuating or living in the shelters. Many private volunteer groups are supplying food and necessaries. Many festivals and events also have been cancelled and at the same time, many charity concerts and events are organised by singers or comedians.

slam dunkJapanese pop culture, Anime and Manga are the another big supporters. The author of Slam Dunk, Takehiko Inoue immediately started a project "Smile". In his Twitter, he's been drawing many smily faces of children or elder people to cheer the people up. We are a little tired of seeing sad and horrible images, aren't we?

This is a collaboration of Takehiko Inoue with a singer, Youko Kanno. His illustration and her supporter's song "Be yourself, Be safe" (Japanese title "Kimi de ite, Buji de ite").



akira toriyama

Not only Takehiko Inoue, other Anime authors follow. The creator of Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama also has drawn one. Goku and Arare chan are shouting "Ganbare! (がんばれ!)".

suzumiya haruhi


This is Haruhi Suzumiya by Noizi Ito. Even a tomboy Haruhi hopes the best for those who are suffering from the earthquake.



naoki urasawa

The suthor of "Monstre" and "21 century boys", Naoki Urasawa illustrated in the website of a manga magazine, Morning.


We will get over this catastrophe. It looks awful and hopeless but we have the strength to recover. We will!

30 Mar

Report From Tokyo 4-Danger of Drinking Water

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments


(This is the 4th report from a Tokyo resident)

It was quite predictable that we would have a problem with the water. Even that, it was just a bad timing.


The situation was calming down after the quake on the 11th of March and the government, AC, the media and the individual level, we were all together trying to stop people buying up foods and toilet rolls. The distribution was also recovering. We were just about to have a fresh start.

water purifying plant

Then… it began to rain in the metropolitan area for three days. The rain absorbed high level of radioactivity in the air and fell over the water purification plants.


Before that, there was a restriction over the shipment of some products produced in Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures, yet most of the people in Tokyo must've thought it was a someone else's problem.


As to the radiation, the government until then had been saying that there would be no “immediate” effect to human body (what a irresponsible comment). Then suddenly they changed their opinion and told us not to give the tap water to babies and infants. It did arise the panic especially among Japanese young mothers.

At last, Tokyo had realised how serious the problem was.


In general, women are more careful about what they eat and drink than men. If it's for their children, they will be even more cautious and this triggered them to buy up all the bottles of water.

water for kids

The worst thing was this panic didn't stay only in Tokyo but extended to Kansai area and then to Kyushu area.


As a result, now in Japan we are short of water.



It's normal for mothers to protect their own children more than the moral under the circumstances like this.



mothers buying water

One early morning, I heard a noise coming from the supermarket behind my house. When I peeked through the window, there was a crowd of people who came for water, majority were young women with their family members to get a bottle more.


I was watching them from my window of the second floor. A family came out from the supermarket and opened the boot to put the stuff . They must've been various shops already, I saw the boot full of bottles of water and nappies.

water stock

Japan was known as a country where the water was clean and free but not anymore. Now this is one of the country where has the “dirtiest” water in the world. How ironic!


In this connection, CCJ (Coca Cola Japan) has already arranged to import the water from South Korea.


On the contrary, I was in Shibuya in Tokyo for my project and saw groups of high school girls walking down the street without masks, and what's more, gulping a cup of juice from some famous fast-food shop which is made tons of tap water… I was just stunned by such ignorance.


By the way, I'm an alcohol lover and had quite amount of chaser and water stock. So until now, I haven't needed to rush to the supermarket for a bottle. Well, it doesn't mean I can use water as much as I need, and it seems like I need to cook rice with some tonic water tonight, hahaha.

But there is no other choice. I'm really tired of eating packed preserved food. I want some warm rice.


29 Mar

Oshaku is a Japanese manner-Serve beer properly

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Last month, serving Belgian beer conmetition in Japan was held in Ginza, Tokyo. It was Reiko Tsuchiya who won.

miss tsuchiyaApparently the taste of beer changes depending on the way of serving it and there are 9 points to do it in the right way; way of washing the gless, the angle of the glass when pour the beer, the thickness of the form (about two-finger) etc…

Miss Tsuchiya will participate in the world competition which will be held in the end of this month in London. Perhaps she is already there and serving the beer. Good luck to her.


Japan consumes quite amount of beer a year. Statistics of the consumption of the beer in 2009 shows Japan consumed 5,982,000kl. and came the 7th in the world. (reference from  Kirin Holdings Ltd.)


It's normal in the business scene that younger salary men serve (oshaku-お酌) older salary men. To know how to oshaku correctly is one of the Japanese manners in the society. It was the first lesson I received at the welcome drinking party in the university.

kirin beerThis is the mystique, three step serving.

1. First slowly then lift the bottle highet in order to make foam.

2. Leave for a moment until the foam lows to half then pour beer until the foam reaches the edge of the glass.

3. Leave it for another moment then pour slowly until the foam comes up 1.5cm higher than the edge of the glass. Here you have super creamy foamed beer.

If you learn this and serve beer properly to your boss, you will get respect by Japanese co-workers as a person with a good Japanese manner.


Here, the video shows how to serve beer properly. The movement is beautiful and when it's done perfectly, even a glass of beer looks so dignified.


Now, I have to admit that I'm not a beer drinker, in general not much of an alcohol fun. One, because I've got typical oriental gene that cannot process alcohol and two, because of the experience I had in the first year of Uni had left me a bit of trauma.

In Japan, back then when I was an university student and until recent, it was a sort of tradition that older students obligated new students to drink. Of course as they are poor students, most of the time they drink the cheapest drink which is beer.


My first year in uni I joined a club, we were only 8 new students in this club. As a tradition, the older students took us to an Izakaya. We were sit in a line and in front of us, there were 10 glasses of beer each.

One of the seniors said, "Welcome to our club. We are happy to receive you guys. Now we like to have a little ceremony as our tradition. You will start to drink all the glasses and the last person have to drink this." He lifted a glass of Shochu.

Eh huh. So after drinking 10 glasses of beer all at once (Ikki-nomi) then as a penalty, someone had to drink another at least 25°C of shochu. Great.

new studentsI explained to them that I couldn't drink alcohol but obviously it wasn't accepted.

So I drank the first one.

Within a second, the back of my ears started boiling and I could felt my face was getting hot.

One senior saw me this radical change and stopped me before I reached the second glass. What a relief but the rest of the students continued to drink. Only boy in that year lost and he drank extra shochu glass…. which came out directly from his mouth with everything.


serving sake

In the next three years, I became a care taker of other students. Making sure the person lying on the corner of the room was breathing or not vomitting. Helping a girl trying to go to the loo but couldn't stand up etc..

The problem is when your senior does oshaku you beer (or any alcohol), you have to drink it as a manner. Even though you suffer from it as a junior, the tradition will be repeated in the next year, you as a senior.

I never liked this type of Nomi-kai (drink party) and way of drinking (Ikki-nomi). Since then, I can't drink beer.


This tradition, Ikki-nomi had became a social problem since many young people were taken to hospital because of alcohol intoxication. The data is a little old but in 2009, 9,435 people were taken to hospital because of that. I'm talking about after the society considered this as a serious problem and had a big promotion about it. Just before in 2005, about 13,585 people were taken to hospital because of alcohol intoxication. Some of them die and the majority are young people in their 20's. My counsin was one of them. Someone found him unconscious and took him to the hospital. He was there all night with a drip and survived fortunately.



Cherry blossom has started blooming already in Tokyo and there will be many Hanami nights in Japan.

I just hope no one will suffer from this Japanese "manner" based on the silly hierarchical system.

Say NO to Ikki-nomi!

29 Mar

Report From Tokyo 3 – Manipulation of Information

Juju Kurihara 2 Comments

This is the third report from a Tokyo resident

Since I escaped from Tokyo, the people of Fukushima Daiichi have been working on it so hard to solve the problem and although the situation is still serious, the rectors seem to be under control.


Yet, I'm seeking all the information about the nuclear plant in the net and making reference for my next move.

I would imagine that after the quake, many Japanese people are rely on the net to get information.

Comparing to the time when Hanshin earthquake or Niigata earthquake happened, the importance of the internet has expanded deeply in our daily life.


chain mailCommunication network and social network such as SNS have also spread all over the world.

Maybe many of us don't believe what the government and the authorities say to us.


Or maybe we prefer to get over this situation with other people rather than doing it alone.

The information is a weapon.

For example when the earthquake happened on the 11th of March, there were many short messages and tweeting like

“The cupboard fell over and I'm stuck, anyone in my neighbourhood, please help me” or

“To the people who cannot go home because of the suspension of the train, we open our office and the bathroom to anyone who needs to stay”.


Moreover, people who had radiation monitors cooperated and started reporting the level of the radioactivity voluntarily on Ustream.

The internet links goodwill to goodwill and there are people who are saved by that for sure.

However, at the same time, the information can direct people to the wrong direction mercilessly.

The good example for this is the radiation problem of Fukushima Daiichi which has thrown people into this endless fear.


For instance:

gargleTo get rid of the iodine remained inside the body because of being exposed to the radioactivity, drink gargle”

Then gargle disappeared from the pharmacy.

no gargle




“It's good to eat a lot of sea weeds to get rid of the iodine”

There were no packages of sea weeds and kelp from the supermarkets.

wakameno wakame










Moreover, there were chain mails going around saying,

“A fire broke out in the fuel storage of an oil company in China. Don't go outside when it rains because the rain is contaminated”

cosmosekiyuenjyouchain mail 2







The sad thing is these rumors must have started with the best of intentions at the beginning.

But in the reality, the information is also a threatening.


On top of this, the media kept broadcasting the things which provoked our fear by repeating “this is the XXX times more radiation amount than usual” rather than insisting the safety.


newscasterPerhaps the newscasters themselves were getting numb with this horror. One day, during a report from the devastated area, one of the casters without realising she had a microphone said “That's funny.”


Another newscaster, while they were showing the TV conference of the prime minister made comments like…


“C'mon, nuclear plant again?”

“Hahahaha, it just makes me laugh”


In the last few days, finally the medias started announcing the safety of the situation.

But I think it's not so easy to recover things once you loose them. Such as the people or houses they have lost by the earthquake, or the trust the nuclear plant and TEPCO have lost through these weeks.

Phishing sites asking the donation is one of the phenomenon under such circumstances and there were many in Japan after the quake.

Then so many guessing and rumors have started flying around.

(to be continued)