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Summer Break Update

I have been taking a “summer break”, a very rewarding time to simply relax and enjoy life. I spent time on my health and fitness that included a detailed annual physical, committed to some diet and lifestyle modifications, and dedicated time for moments of reflection on my life since relocating to Tokyo Japan.

I don’t like or use social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, finding I am more comfortable when I sit alone with my thoughts. I never really gave much thought to this tendency to “daydream” until I read an interesting commentary by Melinda Wenner Moyer in the New York Times (“In Defense of Daydreaming”, 8/4/22) that says researchers believe letting your mind wander can benefit the brain.

The thought-provoking piece cited two studies. In one, adults “were given the option of either entertaining themselves with their own thoughts for 15 minutes or giving themselves painful electric shocks. Sixty-seven percent of men and 25 percent of women chose the shocks.” Another study’s results however suggested “that our tendency to avoid being alone with our thoughts is in part because ‘we tend to underestimate the value of thinking’ according to one of the study’s authors.’” That study “asked adults to first predict how much they would like sitting in a quiet room alone, and then actually had them do it for 20 minutes. To their surprise, the participants enjoyed the experience more than they had expected to.”

I was pleased to learn that other “daydreaming” research “shows that letting our minds wander and engaging in certain kinds of daydreaming can give us joy, serenity and even make us more creative.”

I am relaxing in Tokyo, reading a book, glad to be alive.

I am not merely glad to be alive; I am jubilant.

For this old man, this IS home.

And, I am pleased to announce that the Japan Ministry of Immigration has just granted me a five year resident Visa extension!

Thank you for visiting my website. I will resume regular blog posts in the fall.

Japan’s Overwhelming Heat Wave

Since my 2019 relocation to Japan I have experienced two unexpected and extraordinary events: the COVID pandemic and Japan’s worst heat wave on record.

In Tokyo on Saturday, temperatures exceeded 35 Celsius (about 95 degrees Fahrenheit) for the eighth straight day. According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, the capital has only seen such a streak once before since 1875.

Heat stroke and exhaustion are a major concern and Japan’s aging population is especially vulnerable. Over 4,500 people with symptoms were taken to hospitals in recent days; a number more than four times greater from the same period a year ago.

Since we walk or ride bikes for all our local activities, we have been very careful to avoid exposure. We have kept air-conditioners running and I have halted my daily 5K fitness walks to avoid heat stroke; even very early morning and evening attempts were dangerous. Toma has been particularly affected by the heat.

Typhoon season, the next expected weather events, could also be troubling.

Japan¥ Tumbles to 20-year Low vs. US$

Will US$ vs. Japan¥ rise further?

The Japanese yen continued its fall relative to the U.S. dollar, trading at 126.3 yesterday, its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in nearly 20 years. Expert commentary suggests the yen could trade in the 130 yen range.

While there are several conditions that have led to the rise of the dollar, such as the geopolitical turmoil of the Russia-Ukraine war roiling global markets, it primarily reflects different monetary policy approaches between Japan’s central bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

For me, the stronger dollar means I receive more yen when transferring funds from U.S. bank accounts to Japan as well as lower prices for credit card purchases.

Witness to History ….

Over my lifetime I have had the extraordinary experience to witness, as a participant or an observer, many significant social, political, cultural or sports-related events.

Here are two interesting recent examples of sports related events where I was a “witness to history”.

Sunday, April 10 was the final day of the 2022 Masters golf tournament. I stayed up all night watching the tournament live on Tokyo TV (listening to English commentary via Sirius radio and various online reports).

Twenty-five years ago on that day I had a front row seat on the 18th green to witness a young American golfer finish one of the most memorable rounds in golf history. Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters at Augusta, Georgia, setting records for the lowest score (270 strokes) and the widest margin of victory (12). Seeing Tiger make his remarkable comeback was inspirational!

Early on Sunday as I sleepily scanned cable TV sports coverage I stumbled on the last innings of the first perfect game in Nippon Professional Baseball in 28 years. The pitcher, twenty-year old Roki Sasaki, threw only 105 pitches and set a Japanese pro baseball record by striking out 13 consecutive batters en route to Japan’s 16th perfect game. Another extraordinary performance.

I still recall as a young boy watching on a black and white TV the perfect game thrown by NY Yankee pitcher Don Larsen in game 5 of the 1956 World Series. It is the only post-season perfect game in major league baseball history.