Powerful Magnitude 7.3 Earthquake Jolts Japan

A powerful magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck Japan around 11:08p.m. on Saturday February 13 off the coast of the Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in the Tohoku region.

The quake measured a strong 6 –– the second-highest level –– on the Japanese seismic intensity scale. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) did not issue a tsunami warning.

We felt the quake in Tokyo, where it registered a 4 on the Japanese scale. Although our building was shaking for about 5 minutes, it seemed to last forever at the time. We are safe, did not lose power or experience any damage. However, we did get our emergency backpacks, flashlights and other gear ready for use.

According to news reports, the quake was less than a month before the 10th anniversary of the of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a magnitude of 9.0 event, that struck the same region on March 11, 2011. The JMA believes this latest quake was an aftershock from that earlier event and says that more aftershocks of up to a strong 6 on the Japanese scale could occur for at least a week.

Super Bowl Monday!!

Getting ready for my personal SuperBowl Party watching the game live in Tokyo at 8:30 AM JST Monday February 8th on the DAZN sports channel.

That there will be no halftime show doesn’t bother me but I will miss the commercials. In the past, they were often more fun and interesting to watch than the game!

In any event, with an ample supply of Japanese beer and snacks for the game, I am preparing my award-winning “Super Bowl of Chile” for a half-time brunch. Keiko is working from home and I expect she will join Toma and I for the culinary experience.

Growing up around New York City, the N.Y. Giants were my team, so when living in Maine I never could root for the New England Patriots. However, I always appreciated Bill Belichick’s coaching genius (he was a former defensive coordinator for the Giants), Tom Brady’s talent and Rob Gronkowski’s attitude. I am looking forward to seeing if the Brady/Gronk duo will demonstrate some of the Patriots magic to topple Patrick Mahomes and company.

Snow in Tokyo!?

It has been a very mild winter season in Tokyo. But days before Sitsubun and the first day of Spring, winter decided to remind us that it can snow in Tokyo! On the afternoon of January 28, 2021 snow flurries appeared in the Japanese capital.

Snow flurries appear outside our Tokyo home on January 28.

Surprised, I went outside to see sufficient white stuff laying on the ground. There was no real accumulation and the surprise “storm” was over in a few hours and little evidence of snow remained.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) the event was due to a low-pressure system and a strong winter pressure pattern that caused extremely strong winds across Japan. Heavy snow mainly on the Sea of Japan side of the country and northern areas was predicted.

With the strong winds, Tokyo experienced a rare snow event while Hokkaido in Japan’s north received more than 50 cm of snow in blizzard conditions.

Tokyoites in the snow

The day after our snow event the afternoon temperature in Tokyo reached 65F/18C.

The experience did prompt me to look at my awesome collection winter photos from Maine.

Memories of a Maine Winter

Japanese Perceptions of America

Japanese Media Coverage of January 6th U.S. Capitol Attack

Police confront supporters of President Donald Trump, including Jake Angeli in a horn and fur costume, as they demonstrate on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. [January 6, 2021 | REUTERS/Mike Theiler]

While I follow news about the United States from U.S. news sources, I also spend time exploring how Japanese media reports on news from and about the United States. The discipline allows me to better understand how the Japanese government and people interpret what is happening in the U.S. means for Japan and its governmental policies and individual perceptions.

The events of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol serve as an excellent example that I followed closely at the time and since. The English language newspaper Japan Times publishes a weekly column, Big in Japan, that focuses on issues being discussed by the Japanese domestic media organizations. By coincidence, the paper’s February 1 issue featured a piece written by Mark Schreiber titled “Japanese News Outlets Report from the Besieged Citadel of American Democracy.” [A pdf appears below.]

I was fascinated with Schreiber’s examples and analysis. The introductory paragraphs will help to illustrate his theme as well as my personal point of view:

One of the oft-cited entries in Mao Zedong’s famous red book of quotations begins, “A revolution is not a dinner party.”

Nor, would it appear, is a revolution a Mad Hatter’s costume ball. But one might not know it from the initial reactions in the Japanese media, which focused on the flamboyant garb of a certain individual who was part of the unruly mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Schrieber then proceeds to provide examples and excerpts from prominent Japanese news sources to illustrate his point.

I agree with his analysis. It was also consistent with what I saw on Japanese TV news-variety programs. However, I was surprised the author did not relate the costume focus of the news coverage to a unique element of Japanese culture –– Cosplay.

“Cosplay” is an abbreviation for costume play, the practice of dressing up as a character. from a film, video game or a book that is so popular here that practitioners are evident in everyday life and Japan is often referred to as the world capital of “cosplaying”.

A gathering of Japanese cosplay fans.

The popularity of cosplay reflects the Japanese love of anime and manga. Some Japanese like to dress up as their favorite characters! Though there are designated cosplay events, one can find cosplayers roaming Tokyo’s busy downtown shopping districts in their costumes on a weekend. Think of Halloween in the United States happening on every weekend. The costumes range from inexpensive readymade ones, available for example in 100 yen stores, to elaborate and expensive from specialty fashion shops. There are choices to suit everyone regardless of age, income or status.

Japan, the cosplay capitol of the world.

For myself, it was logical and expected that the Japanese news media seized upon the “cosplay” nature of some January 6th participants. It made sense from both a business and news analysis perspective.

Click to read the Japan Times article ––