I Lost My Hero

Again, I am so sorry for not updating my blog...

My father has been struggling with his health for over a decade. Last weekend his condition worsened dramatically and all possible measures you can imagine were used to rescue him at the hospital. My wife and I stayed at the hospital for four days and have been with him all the time. I slept 6 hours during those 4 days there. He passed away late at night on March 23 from pulmonary dysfunction.

He was sent to the hospital by ambulance and left there by hearse...


Update On Us and Our Area Part 2

I am terribly sorry for being lazy and not updating for a while and not visiting your blogs lately...

As I already said a couple of times in my last two posts, our family members are all fine in the northern part of Kanto area- Utsunomiya city, Tochigi Prefecture. When compared to what people in the coastal region in Tohoku area have been suffering, our damage is extremely subtle. As you can see in the photo above, occasionally old buildings are shown to be half collapsed. These buildings are in the process of demolition, because otherwise a total collapse caused by aftershocks is very likely.

Fig. 1 The frequency of quakes. Gray bars (left) indicate quakes that happened before the major disaster (red). The Y axis denotes the numbers of aftershocks per hour and the X axis indicates time.

Numbers of aftershocks are getting fewer and fewer, although it still shakes significantly more than before the major quake (red bar on March 11th, 14:46 Japan Time).

Fig 2. Average magnitude of aftershocks. The red bar reached at magnitude 9 which is the biggest number ever recorded in Japan. Y axis indicates average magnitude of aftershocks per hour. Gray bars denote quakes that happened before the major disaster.

The magnitude of aftershocks remains unchanged...

The only concern we are facing in the Kanto area is a lack of gasoline, which is mostly attributed to the psychological (= hysterical) reaction of the customers, combined with the temporary decreased supply from the vendors... Hope that the situation will be improved next week.

Our government is doing their best to prevent from the worst case scenario at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Lots of rumors are spreading in all sorts of media you can think of as to what is likely to happen in the northern part of Japan but I have been visiting one site from time to time for updates on the power plant in a critical situation. It is also useful for future prospects.

I strongly recommend everybody to take a look at this article posted on March 16 there. Dr Don Higson actually has said everything that's been on my mind and there's absolutely nothing else to say. Dr Don Higson is a retired nuclear safety specialist and Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia, Fellow of the Australasian Radiation Protection Society.
Sure, this is an article posted three days ago and what was written is not what is happening now but I agree with his interpretations of the events that occured at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Dr. Higson's personal views started as follow:
I believe it will eventually be understood that events over the past few days at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in north-eastern Japan have demonstrated the safety of nuclear power. In what may have been the worst earthquake and tsunami ever to have occurred, the approximately 40-year old nuclear plants have been severely damaged. Three of them are likely to be written off - like many other industrial installations in that part of Japan. However, the reactor containments have remained intact, releases of radioactivity outside the site boundary have not reached dangerous levels and there is no risk to the general public.

For over a decade I have been using radioactivity at the university and I am not so concerned about low levels of radioactivity in our region...

This is an entry for Show Me Japan Vol 1, Issue 18

This is also a Black and White Weekend and Sunday In My City.


Have a wonderful weekend.


Update On Us and Our Area

First of all, thank you very much for your kinds words and concern about us. I really appreciate it. Secondly I am sorry for not replying...

We are doing fine. None of our family members are dead or injured. Due to the unprecedented shaking that took place on March 11, we had a minor damage at home (as you can see photo above), located in Utsunomiya city, Tochigi Prefecture. But it's nothing comparative to what happened to the coastal area of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures.

As it is constantly reported on all sorts of media, one of our main concerns is the radioactivity leakage from the Fukushima #1 nuclear power plant. Fortunately we are not within 20 km of the power station that is in critical situation of cooling down the nuclear reactor. It is fortunate that Onagawa nuclear power plant near Sendai city is still under control! It's so nearby the epicenter.

Since where we live is so far away from the Pacific coast, our lives are OK. As you can see in the photo shown above, we have had very minor damage caused by the quake. In some area of our city, we have problems with electricity and telephone services. The majority of JR trains lines are still out of service. Gasoline supply has been out of service since yesterday and this is probably the biggest issue for most of the inhabitants in our prefecture since driving a car is indispensable. More and more shelves at supermarkets are getting bare, as well.
Other than that, our area is so quiet. I haven't heard any ambulance sirens since yesterday. The people here appear to be saving gasoline. The streets are not so busy. Rather, it's so quiet, I have to say. We posted photos of our neighborhood on another one of our blogs, Tochigi Daily Photo, here.

Here is the funny part. Did I tell you that we don't have a TV and radio at home? We totally rely on the internet for getting updates and we have been listening to the BBC live video, as well as reloading Japanese newspaper websites. Never before have I been exposed to such a massive flow of British accents. By the time everything's back to normal, I will be so familiar with many varieties of British accents!

What we are really worrying about is the aftershocks that are continuously happening. I feel like living in an airplane cabin or on a train all day...

Fig. 1 Everything started at the time when the red bar was recorded. Gray bars indicate quakes that happened before the major disaster. The Y axis denotes the numbers of aftershocks per hour and the X axis indicates time.

This is all written in Japanese, but just take a look at the times that the aftershocks happen. You can see how often it's been happening. It IS gradually getting less and less as the time goes by. Which is good news!


Fig 2. Average magnitude of aftershocks. The red bar reached at magnitude 9 that is the biggest number ever recorded in Japan. Y axis indicates average magnitude of aftershocks per hour. Gray bars denote quakes that happened before the major disaster.

The average magnitude, unfortunately, remains high... The data does not make me happy...

This is a Black and White Weekend and Weekend Reflections #77,



I am alive!

For those who sent me messages concerning my family and me, I really appreciate it. As the title says, my family members (including our cats) and I are ALL FINE. FORTUNATELY my city is located inland Japan. It's quite far away from both sea sides.
Up to now, there are no Utsunomiyan fatalities (people in Utsunomiya). When considering what this earthquake with a historic magnitute of 8.8 has caused in Tohoku region, I have to admit that our area have had very little damage. Our life lines- water, electricity, gas, and internet connection- are all fine, although aftershocks keep coming up every 5 to 10 minutes (which make us nervous).

The photo shown above is the one I took at my parents home. One big window fell apart, plenty of glass cups and dishes were crushed, and the Japanese dolls were dancing like crazy...

Again, thanks for worrying about us and I hope that things will get back to normal soon.

This is also an entry for Show Me Japan Vol 1, Issue 17.


Takamori SAIGO

His name is Takamori SAIGO (西郷隆盛). He was one of the Samurai who played major roles in Meiji Restoration (明治維新). I photographed his bronze statue at Ueno Park, Tokyo. He's also known as a dog lover!

Image from Wiki

His last stand against the Meiji government in the Battle of Shiroyama was the historical basis for the 2003 film The Last Samurai. Katsumoto, played by Ken Watanabe in the movie, is based on SAIGO.

This is a Sky Watch Friday and Walk In The Street.


Have a wonderful weekend.


Stone Carving

That creepy stone Monk carving was found at the Seiganji Temple (清厳寺) in Utsunomiya city, Tochigi Prefecture. Stone carvings like that (though not always creepy) can be found at Buddhist temples and they are relatively new. I assume that they are sort of eye-catching mascots with vague significance both in history and religion...

This is a Sepia Scenes #123 and Alphabe-Thursday entry (V is for vague).



Lime Factory Part 4

Once again, this is a photo taken in the industrial area in Tochigi city. I found two shrines by the lime factories. This red torii gate at the entrance of this shrine looks as exhausted as the old factories there. I couldn't figure out the enshrined deity at this anonymous shrine, however, the deity could be related to the prosperity of this industrial area, I guess...

If you want to see more photos of these lime factories, here we are.


This is a That's my world and Ruby Tuesday entry.



Problem With Missing Thumbnail Image?

Lately sometime last two weeks, I am having a problem with thumbnail images missing. It happens only to the newly entered photos...

As shown in the image above, I always put my photo first, then badge images of memes I participate in follow. When posted, the first photo has always been the thumbnail image. That's how it should be.

However, since 1-2 weeks ago, I noticed that the thumbnail of the entry is the badge image (the second image of the entry). I was wondering why.... until yesterday when I visited Blogger Help.

At Blogger Help forum I found a tip to solve this issue. For those who encounter the same problem, I recommend you to read this!!!

The problem is that since the time my photo images were being neglected as the thumbnails, the URL of the images uploaded to Blogger has been modified, which I did not notice. Because the badge image has old but valid URL, it is recognized as thumbnail image.

In my case, the URL of my new image is automatically assigned as:

To be recognized, you have to change the URL manually like below:

Get rid of "s" from "https" and change URL as highlighted in orange. Note that when preparing a new post, use "Edit HTML" function and change URLs accordingly. Don't forget to change two URLs in one photo. The first one starts at "<a href=http...." and the second one at "<src="http://...."



Snowy Day

We have snow fall from time to time, however in many cases, it does not stay for long. By next day, it's either gone or it turns into sleet.

This is a Black and White Weekend and Weekend Reflections #76, Sunday In My City.and PhotoSunday. The theme is "Glare".


This is also an entry for Show Me Japan Vol 1, Issue 16. If you want to see nice photos taken in Japan, don't forget to visit!


Have a wonderful weekend.


Orchestra Performance

This image is from the archive that I photographed in Kanuma City during the Kanuma Buttsuke Autumn Festival...

It was a cold day today (below zero Celsius at night) and I felt like posting photo taken during a warm weather. Where's the spring???

This is an entry for Sky Watch Friday, Walk In The Street, and Foto Friday (the theme is Shapes and Finales) entry.


Have a wonderful weekend.


Utmost For His Highest

These are members of the Aizu Mass Choir from Aizu Wakamatsu city (合図若松市), who were invited to express their love for Jesus at an ice candle ceremony commemorating the liberation of a place where untold numbers of Jews lost their lives - Auschwitz. The candle lighting, Jesus-loving event was held at the Auschwitz Peace Museum (アウシュビッツ平和博物館) in Fukushima Prefecture (I am not kidding)!!!

Yes, there is an Auschwitz museum in Japan and we blogged about this place here and about the ice candle ceremonies here (in 2010) and there (in 2011).

If you want to listen to their music, we have a video.

This is an Alphabe-Thursday entry (U is for utmost).