On Friday the 23rd of September, Japan celebrates Autumnal Equinox Day (shuubun no hi) to recognize the meteorological change in seasons. On this day, based on the astronomically determined tilt of the earth, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west making day and night exactly equal in length.
Along with traditional spiritual significance, the Autumnal Equinox brings anticipation for the coming of koyo, the autumn leaf viewing season.
While days have remained warm, the cooler nights remind me of the advance of autumn, my favorite season. Aging has intensified the weather’s profound physiological and psychological effects on my moods and movements. I change with the temperature, the moisture, the wind … as they change, so do I. My morning walks with Toma remind me of that.
So looking forward to Japan’s magical fall season. The kaleidoscopic pageant that the leaves put on is sensational.
On Monday September 19 Japan celebrated its Keiro no Hi or “Respect for the Aged Day”, a public holiday. As the name suggests, it’s a day to honor and respect the country’s elderly citizens.
It was a day to feel good about yourself. There are times I feel like a spare part put on a shelf and forgotten. I have no wish to dwell on the past ….. Only the future. Onward.
The celebration of Japan’s longevity is also a reminder of the country’s deepening demographic woes. However, the issue of aging population is a global phenomenon.
According to recent world population reports, Japan is at 28 percent, followed by Italy at 23 percent. Finland, Portugal, and Greece are at just under 22 percent. The percentage of China’s population age 65 or above is 12 percent, 16 percent in the United States, 6 percent in India, and 3 percent in Nigeria. Southern Europe, which includes such countries Croatia, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain, is the oldest region in the world with 21 percent of the population ages 65+.
Typhoon Hinnamnor threatens Japan and has buffeted islands southeast of Okinawa with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour and gusts of up to 172 miles per hour.
The Japan Meteorological Agency forecasts that Hinnamnor would most likely head north toward the Korean Peninsula, warning that the storm could drop more than seven inches of rain on the islands and potentially bring enough force to destroy homes. It is not certain how this storm will impact the Tokyo area.
Typhoon Hinnamnor provides further evidence that climate change increases the frequency of major storms because a warmer ocean provides more of the energy that fuels them.
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.
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.
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