Category: Japan

28 Mar

Give Us That Hosepipe. US Robot Firefighters to Rescue Japan

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

The other day I wrote about my wonder over the robot rescue in Japan. I've read in various blogs and articules people were talking about the same thing. It's just bizarre that none of our super robots have been helping the dangerous operations.

But now, finally! Here comes robots rescue team! Not from Japan but from the US.

They are Packbot and Warrior, both robots are created by Massachusetts based robots maker, iRobot.



Packbot has been working in Afghanistan to detect bombs. 

According to iRobot, they don't know for which porpuse they can use this robot yet but probably it will be used for observation and detection of dangerous objects.




Here, in this video you can see the capacity of Packbot. Wow, how tough it is! This is like Terminator.



Another robot "iRobot 710 Warrior is a powerful and rugged robot that carries heavy payloads, travels over rough terrain and climbs stairs while performing a variety of critical missions" (Ref. from iRobot website)

 As they can carry heavy thing up t o100kg, Warrior may be introduced to Japan to help Japanese firefighters to sprinkle water to the rectors.

Here is the video of Warrior


Up to now, it seems like Japanese super robots have failed. They have pretty faces but are not practical?


In the early stage, it was also American army who flew their unmanned aircraft, Global Hawk to observe the condition and the level of radoactivity of Fukushima Daiichi.

But why? I still don't understand. In overseas, people always talk about robots and technology in Japan and I always wonder if I have ever associated my daily life with robots. Maybe not.

So here comes to rescue us US technology. It's a little shame for Japanese technology team. But hey, I really prefer to sacrifice robots' life than human life.


robo q controllerAlso I think I've found one of the reason for that. I mean if you think about practicality, having this sort of controller can't be good.

This is the controller for Robo Q which I explained in other articule. They work in the devastated area or war scene but not in a exhibition hall.


PackBot_with_game_style_controllerAnd this is the controller for Packbot. With this, they can go any severe sight. This is more plactical.


Japan has abandoned wars but we are always being threatened by natural disasters and we do need robots that work. Those which make amazing ice creams are also fun and pretty but please, Japanese robots engineers, make something that does its role!



24 Mar

Super Robots vs Human – Catastrophe in Japan

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Itś been two week since this nightmare stated in Japan. Each day less news about Japan on TV in overseas as they've found a new target… Libya, or perhaps it because Elizabeth Taylor passed away. However the problem and the rescue continues in Japan.

A few days ago, it was announced that the water in Tokyo is contaminated and we shouldn't let children to drink the tab water. People rushed to the shops and now all the bottle water has disappeared from Tokyo even from the vending machines. 

Japanese people who didn't shout a word seem to be a little more panicked because it's something to threat their children. Then people wonder "what are they really doing to save us?"


firemen 1Yes, they are working. Tokyo Fire Service is directing the water spraying operation in Fukushima Daiichi. 

This is a mission operated on the 18th and the 19th of March and the video was released by Tokyou Fire Service to Japanese media.

First firemen are at the entrance of the building and having a meeting.

firemen 2Then in the next scene where firemen are stretching the water hosepipe, you can hear them saying

"Now, 70 sievert!"

"Shall we go back?"

"Yes, to where the sievert level reaches the highest!"

And meantime, the radiation monitor they carry is ringing.

The workers in TEPCO also working hard, for two weeks since the earthquake happened, they've been sleeping 1-2 hours a day on the chair. Their families haven't seen their husbands or fathers since then.

tepco workersA wife of one worker of TEPCO had a phone call for the first time since the 16th of March. According to him, the working condition is severe and tense. Only food they are provided is energy bars… They are working there knowing how risky the work is. They are real human heroes.


Yesterday, on the 24th, two TEPCO workers are taken to the hospital because of the exposure to radiation.

exposed to the radiationThen suddenly someone asked me. "Where are all robots in Japan?"

Of course, Japan is known as robots kingdom, full of robots in this island. Then, where are they? In this two weeks, I haven't heard or seen any news about robots rescuing people. I hadn't realised until a foreign friend mentioned it to me. Curious.

We haveca5w78ne this ROBO Q for instance. This is an invention of Tokyo Fire Service for handling dangerous objects and rescue people in devastated area.

It can be operated from 50m of distance with the remote control and 100m with the optical fiber. ROBO Q has robot arms with the camera and the sensor for the gas and the temperature. It also has a radiation monitor on the gripper. Sounds perfect to work in Fukushima Daiichi to check the level of the radioactivity.

monitoring robotThis is another searching robots for disastered areas. This could go to Tohoku region and help searching missing people under the crushed houses.


human robot


And this human robot "Ma kum" is especially made for working in dangerouns conditions and rescuing people. Even heavy rain can't stop this 160cm tall robot to save people. Ma kun has a quite sensitive fingers and can even screw bolts.

Can he not work in the rector instead of sacrificing humans?


yasukawa kun

At the end, this is Yasukawa kun. He is an industrial robot who can manage welding and assemblage work. However because of its sympathetic face and its dexterity, he's expanding the work field.

Now I think that if any of these robots can substitute some work for humans. Just to avoid putting human fighters in the risk. Instead of sending someone into the rector to measure the level of radiation, a robot hero can do the same job. Don't you think?

Or Japanese people are so pround that they cannot rely on robots? I prefer to save people's life even I miself am a fan of ASIMO. Is it meaningless to wait for Atom (Astro Boy) to come to rescue us? It's just curious that robots kingdom Japan is trying to save themselves without robots….


This is a video of  Yasukawa kun. Look his smooth hand movement!

23 Mar

The Sound of the Earthquake by Micah Frank

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

I was born in a country of earthquake. Since I was little I don't know how many earthquakes I've experienced, from the small scale ones to the big scale ones (scale 6).

I hate the quake happens when I'm sleep. I'm so defenseless and there's nothing I can do. If the book shelf falls? If the roof fall down over me? Only I can do is wrap myself with duvet and duck my head inside it untill the quake stops.

A strange thing is that although I'm dead sleep, I always know it's coming. But I can only know that just a few second before the quake and it doesn't give me enough time to prepare.  How?

Because I hear the sound, sound of rumbling of the earth. It also sounds like a tube running down the ground. It seems like quite many people hear the same so it's not because I'm a Princess Mononoke and can talk to the nature. 


Apparently this is the sound of seismic wave. Seismic waves has two body waves, P wave and S wave, and the P wave as it's similar to the sound, with the vibration of the air it can be heard as a sound.

You can hear the sound of the earthquake from this link. Just click the speaker inside the site.


seismographUsing the seismograph, you can create a sound too. From this link, you can hear the sound of the earthquake and it's quite curious although it's very different from I usually hear.


The creator is Micah Frank is a New York based music and sound programmer. Currently, Micah is involved in a series of sonification projects that utilize real-time data to synthesize sound content

22 Mar

Tokyo Report 2 – To Outside of Tokyo

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

This is the  continuation of Tokyo Report 1.

tepco tv

Despite of the huge scar that Tsunami left to Japan on the 11th of March, people in the devastated area and other places in eastern Japan were trying to find out the exit of this disaster.


As if makig sure we had been damaged enough, Fukushima nuclear plant had an explosion.


Some of you may know but there are two nuclear plant facilities in Fukushima prefecture.

ustream radiation level


This nightmare began in three rectors of six in one of two plants, Fukushima Daiichi (daiichi means no.1) although the rest of three rectors neither are in the perfect condition.

I won't discuss much about the condition of the rectors, I had decided to evacuate from Tokyo voluntarily with this nuclear plant accident.

Correctly, the fear for not being informed properly made me decided this option.


According to the announcement from the government at first, only the rector 1 had problem among three. As it was under control, the evacuation had been advised to only the local residents who lived in 10km zone from the plant.


However soon later, the rector 1 had a hydrogen explosion and the radioactivity had spread into the air with the steam.


radiation levelThere are many arguments over this accident that

TEPCO couldn't have made a decision to retire the rectors as once they pour the sea water, the rector cannot be used anymore,

or TEPCO had rejected the offer from the US of the cooler supply,

or the connection between the government officials and the civilian was weak etc..

I have no idea what was the real reason but only I know is that the accident in the nuclear power plants is caused by humans in the end.


The Japanese government later extended the evacuation zone to 20km and also little by little widen the zone where the people should standby inside the house.


I think the right way to do was

1. They should have settled bigger area as dangerous zone to make doubly sure.

2. Evacuate all the residents

3. Start recovery work

4. After the work is done, finally release the evacuation alert.


Did they want to demonstrate that everything was under control and no danger? Or did they want to avoid the panic? Who knows. At the end the government took a strategy completely opposite, which was

1. They have announced much smaller area as a dangerous zone,

2. failed recovery operation,

3. extended the dangerous zone

4. another failure in the recovery operation,

5. another extension of dangerous zone


After seeing two failures in their strategy and founding out that the third rector was about to explode, I made up my mind to leave Tokyo.

I was scared of not only the radiation but also being left behind.

Even after, I have been hearing the TV saying “there is no problem in Tokyo” or “the radiation level is harmless” but I never believed it.


Inronald reagan hajimemashite fact, the radioactivity was blown by wind and detected in Onagawa city in Miyagi which is 100km up north from Fukushima Daiichi or even on the US carrier, Ronald Reagan which was on standby in 180km away from the coast to the east. 

200km of distance between Fukushima and Tokyo meant nothing to me anymore.

Among the information flood, I drew a conclusion.


Fortunately my office made us to stay at home until the situation get settled.

I sealed all the window with the tape and wrapped the duct of the air-condition and the ventilator with plastic then just left the house taking almost nothing with me.

On the 15th of March, at 18:10 hrs. escape from tokyo

At the time my Shinkansen left Yokohama station for Osaka, there was an another hydrogen explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

On that day, Tokyo was covered with about 30 times higher level of radioactivity.

(Tokyo report from a Tokyo resident)

21 Mar

Botamochi Day on Shunbun no Hi

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

vernal equinox day

Today the 21th of March is Shunbun no Hi in Japan, spring equinox day in English which is the beginning of the spring. In theory apart from today, the winter finishes and the day time is getting longer.


Shunbun no Hi is one of  Nijuushi Sekki and in 1948 this day was decided as a bank holiday in Japan. Supposedly this is the day of "praise the nature and cherish animals". 


amida-all-upIn buddhism during this term the sun settles in due west where corresponding to the east gate of Gokuraku (heaven in Japanese). Therefore praying the sunset is same as praying towards the entrance of Gokuraku. In this sense, the 21st of March is the closest day to the heaven. 


Before and after Shunbun no Hi, about a week period is called Higan means other side of the shore. If I say Nirvana, maybe easy to enderstand but I will explain about in another occasion. During Higan most of Japanese people visit cemetery to pray for the souls of the dead.


ohagiThe most common food to eat for Shunbun no Hi is Botamochi. This is also called Ohagi which is something like sweet mashed rice ball wrapped with sweet azuki bean paste. Sorry doesn't sound so tasty… But look at the photo, now yes, look tasty.

Actually there are two Higan in a year, in spring and in autumn. Somehow this sweet changes the name, Botamochi in spring and Ohagi in autumn. Don't get confused, they are exactly the same looking and taste. It's believed that the red of azuki beans protect us from bad spirits.


kusamochiAfter Botamochi, this Kusamochi is eaten commonly. This green colour is Yomogi leaf (mugwort in English) added in mochi paste. Tastes quite freshy. There is azuki bean paste inside. Caution, don't eat the leaf outside unless you are goat…




gomoku zushiThen Gomoku Chirashi zushi. Gomoku means mixed more than five ingredients. Chirashi is a tpe of sushi.

inari zushi



People also eat Inari zushi. People make or buy these food not only to eat but also to take to the cemetery for their loved ones. 


Shunbun no Hi this year must be a very difficult day for all Japanese people. Probably they are not in the mood of enjoying warm spring days.










In some regions in Japan they have traditional functions.

For example in Motosu City in Gifu prefecture, Komekashi festival (米かし祭り) is held in Kasuga Shrine. 

The day before Shunbun no Hi, men with Fundoshi (Japanese traditional underware/swimsuit) run to the mouth of the flume, go into the frozen river, wash the rice and take some water from the river then all come back to the Shrine.

This function is for to appreciate the people who built the flume and to pray for a rich harvest in autumn. I sympathise with those guys in this cold and promise to eat everything I'm served.    



More about Higan

Atsusa samusamo Higan made

Nijuushi Sekki

21 Mar

Survivors From the Earthquake After 9 Days

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Everyday we've seeing terrible images from Japan in the TV and they are painful. In Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture where it had the most severe damage from Tsunami, although the rescue teams are searching the area, it's more for looking for dead bodies than survivors.

It's said that after 72 hours, there is only little chance that people would survive. But on the 20th, after 217 hours later 80 year-old grandmother and her 16 year-old grandson were rescued safely from the wrecked house.


How they could survived for such a long time.

When the quake attacked Tohoku area, they were having lunch in the kitchen on the second floor. Then Tsunami attacked the house.


The water entered the kitcheand knocked the cupboard down. The two were stuck in a small space, they could only crawl. The good thing was they were in the kitchen with food, they had been eating things in the fridge such as yoghurt, candies, milk or coca cola, also they cheered up each other and never lost their hope to get rescued.

They also had been able to find dried blankets although the temperature in Sendai area where is 50km away from they were low at below zero. The boy seems to be frostbitten according to the hospital's announcement. I'm not surprised. 

mapThe boy was on holiday and was in his grandmother's house. The day after the quake his father who lives in Sendai received a phone call from the boy. Soon the father went to Ishinomaki to look for his son but there was no remain of the house. He then applied to the police for his 16 year-old son and his mother but until yesterday they couldn't be able to locate then and that's why it took so long.

It was almost miracle that the two were rescued in good condition. So why the rescue team couldn't find them?

In the map, the little pink rectangle is where the house was and it was washed away about several hundreds metres. Also the house was covered with debris and the voice for a help didn't reach outside.

On the 20th, the boy for the first time escaped the house through a hole in the kitchen and climbed up to the rooftop where a policeman found him. The police then searched inside the house as the boy mentioned about his grandmother.

Both of them are now in the hospital, although they are little weaken, they are in a good condition and reunited with the family.

Everyday more sad and terrible news are delivered from Japan to the world. But I want to repeat, most of Japanese people there, even under this circumstances, haven't given up. "Itsumo kokoro ni taiyou wo" (Have a sun in your heart) is the saying we say, means if you can smile in the worst situation, you can keep going, you won't get defeated. I saw another Japanese spirit today. 

21 Mar

Twitter Brings Aid to Devastated Area in Japan

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Friday on the 18th of March at 14:46 Japan time, people observed a minute of silence for all the loss and damages from the earthquake attacked Japan a week ago.



While people are paying attention to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in the devastated area 260,000 are still suffering from shortage of food, water or medicine.

ishinomakishort medicine










Japanese government on the 15th, decided to send Self-Difence Force to those devastated area to send them supply. They have cleared up Kamaishi port and a ship arrived finally before the weekend. First they supplied petro to fire engines and trucks to send rescue team and aid to the shelters. Besides this, they took food (of course), nappies, kerosene and medicines. However, this is still not enough.


twitter blankets


Menwhile twitter has become a great help in Japan.

The students a university in Tsukuba city in Ibaraki prefecture where is accepting people from devastated area  asked people aid through Twitter. The reaction was so quick that within 1 hour, they received about 600 onigiri. 


A councilor of the same city and the city itself asked blankets and cusions for them, and within 2 hours, they received about 250 blankets. 

twitter stops rush to buy

Some people are panicked and rush into the supermarkets to stock up food. So in twitter, someone has put this. It says "we can help by sharing" and shows for example, another 12 rolls of toilet paper you just bought can serve to 1,000 people in the shelters. This is true and effective, I think.



Actually when I first found out about this quake, I opened my twitter after long time and just put "please answer me". Soon, a friend from childhood responded, she also had found out other friends' safety. How relief it gave me!


Of course if they are in the devastated area, it doens't work but this type of social network is the biggest help in Japan at the moment, especially under the situation that the aid is coming from individual people and private volunteer groups.


Today was the day I really appreciate social network. Everyone says that they want to help whatever they can. Each little help becomes a big help at the end. I'm writing this to tell you all what is really happening in Japan and how they've been spending these days besides you see on the telly on your sofa.


18 Mar

What Is Really Happening in Fukushima Daiichi? – Learn From Nuclear Boy

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Entire world is paying attention to this human-made monster, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and TEPCO. We all irritated and frustrated with them for not being able to understand what is really happening there, but seeing American military is withdrawing to 80km away from the plant but not 30km.


The plant was supposed to retire a month ago but TEPCO extended the lisence for another year. Now they have to pay back but the price is sky high. We all know that. 


Now I can see four, at least three destroyed buildings of the rectors. Earthquake and Tsunami damage-Dai Ichi Power Plant, JapanI don't know who can think these buildings are recoverable. We are not physicists nor nuclear experts but it's quite obvious something went wrong.


Despite of our fear and concern, TEPCO kept saying "it's OK, under control, blah, blah."


Finally, a week after,  on the 18th March, special fireservice and Japanese Self-Defence Force managed to start putting the water into the fuel pool to cool down the fuel rods, and it seems to be working.


We still don't know if this is the ending of this nightmare or it continues.


This is a little video about Fukushima nuclear plant. It's easy to understand what is happening there and what they are trying to do. It was viewed more than 60,000 people during a week.


This video was made based on a Japanese media artist, Kazuhiko Hachiya's tweet.


18 Mar

Tokyo report 1- After The Earthquake

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

tokyo office

A huge earthquake shock Japan on the 11th of March. The fear continues since then. Not only successive aftershocks but other problems one after another.


I like to record all the incidents happening here in Tokyo, in Japan as much as possible.


One warm afternoon in March, suddenly the earthquake shock the island. It was just before 3pm when I felt something unusual in my office which is the last floor of the building.


First I thought it was me feeling rocked because of the tiredness. Then I realised it wasn't me.


I've never tried but it must feel like that if you stand on a jelly, those colourful ones the kids would eat. The office waved just like that.


Because we've been seeing the images of the buildings falling down in NZ during the quake, although it must've been much safer to remain inside the office, we all went outside. Perhaps even without the disaster in NZ, we would have been out anyway.


The instinct rushed me into running away as far as possible.


The director of the company himself was scared.

He directed us to go home then left the office first.

It gave me some sort of impression of our company's future…


In the meantime, I was still in the office, I mean I couldn't leave the office.

Japan is a country of earthquakes and well prepared but actually the big cities like Tokyo have less resistance. Trains and tubes had stopped immediately. I thought about getting a taxi but the streets were full of cars, all rushing to get home.


I had no choice other than staying in the office and watching TV news to get more information about the quake.

shibuya power save

… The images coming out from the screen gave me the confusion, as if it was like unrealistic Hollywood films done with lots of CG.




Sanriku coast near the seismic centre of this earthquake is famous for its beautiful saw-toothed coastline and is a popular touristic spot.However this time, that coastline became a deathblow as it actually increased the power of the tsunami.


The waves suddenly grew bigger and wiped out the cars (probably people too) parked in a parking tower. In the below level, streets and houses were being swallowed in a muddy stream in such a short time.


Was it a mass media spirit or simply they wanted higher audience ratings, all TV stations continued showing tragic images.

power save

Now I understand what terror exactly means…. this.


I was in Tokyo, more than 200km away from the seismic centre, and yet the fear crept up my body.


200-300 of dead bodies had been found on the shore, the news reported.

It was terrible enough to sacrifice, then the mayor of one the devastated cities announced…

“The victims will reach more than 10,000”.


I always think of the worst case of scenario.

When I heard 200-300 of death, I immediately thought of at least 10 times more of victims from the images showing on TV. I was stunned as if someone hit my head hard when I heard the mayor.


On the 17th of March, the number of victims are much higher than that mayor predicted, by today, more than 15,000 people are dead or missing.


I don't feel this real.

chaos train


I saw someone's  saying in his blog,

"Japanese people won't give up."


Many Japanese people would've been encouraged by his word.


Only if there was another menace waiting for us after tsunami….



More about 3.11

M8.8 quake attacked Japan

A year after in Japan

A year after the story of Japanese people