New York Times article: “A Maverick Former Japanese Prime Minister Goes Antinuclear”

Koizumi was prime minister several years ago, and he was very popular with the people. He has a rather charismatic quality about him, like Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton.

What’s ironic is that Koizumi is the same party as current leader Abe, a party that supports nuclear power, and also a party that is considered to be quite conservative. (Sort of Japan’s version of the Republican Party of the United States.)  (Koizumi’s switch to anti-nuclear feelings is recent, according to the article.)

Fukushima Children’s Paintings…

I wrote in my previous post that I went to the Bunka Center to see an exhibit of work by Yamamoto Nizou.

Next to that exhibit was a small exhibit of pictures by Fukushima elementary school kids. Photography WAS allowed.

Colorful pictures….

This one above says, “Thank you to the people of the world.”

 

All three of these say, “I love Fukushima.”

This one says, “(Fukushima has) a lot of nature…I love Fukushima.”

This one above says: “Fun Fukushima”

As we go down the exhibit, the artists are older (fifth and sixth graders in elementary school.)

Goodbye, Bunka Center! Thanks for the lovely exhibits!

Nizo Yamamoto

This is the Bunka Center in Fukushima City. (Prefectural Culture Center) It is about a twenty minute bicycle ride from the east side of the main station. (You can rent bikes.) Also, a one hundred yen bus stops near it (not directly in front of it. You won’t be able to see it from the bus stop, but is is a five minute walk away.)

I went to the Bunka Center yesterday to see an exhibit on its third floor.

Top left–It’s an exhibit of the famous movie animator, Yamamoto Nizo (山本二三).

I had not heard of him, but saw the poster downtown. The poster was beautiful, and made me want to go. My husband says Yamamoto Nizo is very famous.

This way! Follow me to the third floor! Don’t get lost!

As you can see, the exhibit runs until January 28, 2018.

Stop looking at the vending machines. You can get a drink later.

Here we are!!!!!!!!!  Exciting, isn’t it???

The exhibit costs 1,000 yen for an adult to enter.

Entrance——–> That way

This is the lobby, and photos are okay here. (The sign says Syashin OK in red.  PHOTOS OK)

However, once I stepped in the actual exhibit, photos were prohibited. I put my camera away, and concentrated on the artwork. It was amazing! Such detail…

It’s set up movie by movie, with some Ghibli movies like Laputa and Mononoke. There was also Grave of the Fireflies, reputed to be one of the saddest films made. (It’s about a boy taking care of his young sister during World World II, although I have not seen it.)

Towards the end, there were paintings (? Is that what this artwork is called? I am not sure.) Anyway, there were paintings of Rikuzentakata, where the tsunami devastated the community. One tree was left standing. Yamamoto is trying to get a film made called “The Tree of Hope.” In Japanese, “希望の木”.

 

If you would like to see sample of Yamamoto’s art:

https://www.yamamoto-nizo.com/blank

http://all-that-is-interesting.com/yamamoto-nizo

 

Kimono vs. Yukata in Fukushima

Today is “Coming of Age” Day in Japan. It is a national holiday, meaning there is no school and no work (except certain jobs like police officers and nurses, who are needed every day of the year.)

Coming of Age Day is a day that celebrates when a child becomes an adult. This is is considered to be twenty years old. On Coming of Age Day almost all twenty-year-old women wear beautiful kimonos. Twenty-year-old men usually wear suits, but some might wear kimono.

You’ll see these young people in Japan during this second Monday of January–the young women very noticeable in their elaborate kimono. (The men less noticeable in their suits.) I asked my husband what they do all day, and said, “Nothing. Drink.” I think they hang around with friends. Japanese high schools don’t have school dances so this is a great time for young people to really go all out and dress up.

The following photos are current photos. They show KIMONO.  Real kimonos, which are very expensive (and are thus often rented by the wearer.) They bear NO RESEMBLANCE to what Americans call “kimono” which is usually a cheap polyester robe with a dragon on the back.  Authentic kimonos are not always elaborate, though–in olden times, peasants wore plain kimonos. The following photos show gorgeous kimonos, not “every day” type kimonos.

See how very gorgeous it is?

And notice the young man is wearing a suit. Because the Coming of Age Day is in the midst of winter, the woman on the far right has a white stole.


The following photos were taken during the summer, and they show YUKATA. These in the photos are festival yukatas. These are worn for festivals in warm and hot months. They are less expensive than the kimonos in the above photos. These yukatas are most likely owned by the young women, not rented, because they are affordable. Young men also wear these festival yukata, but not as often as women or girls.

着物 (kimono) literally means “a thing that is worn.”(Ki=wear Mono=Thing) (Please remember that word dates back long ago when western clothing did not exist in Japan.)

浴衣 (yukata) literally means “bath clothes” So you can tell by the word itself that a yukata is less formal than a typical modern kimono.

What a lovely yukata….

Pretty pretty girls in their pretty pretty yukatas


I took all photos in Fukushima.

Fukushima City Illuminations 2018

Fairy Lights are not only during the holidays in Japan. Here in Fukushima City, they are a winter thang. So in January and February, you can see them.

When I very first lived in Japan, I lived in a small rural town of ten thousand people. It had a small train station, and outside the train station, white fairy lights (what I call “Christmas Lights”) were up outside the station year round and lighted at night. I found that very strange!

This is Fukushima City’s main train station, east side.

This street is perpendicular to the station. (There is construction going on.)

The street ahead (parallel to the station) is Paseo Dori and is a lovely street. The rest of the photos show Paseo Dori.

On the outskirts of Fukushima, there is a spot called “Four Seasons,” kind of a park. From January 13th to February 12th, they will have Fairy Lights.

My critique of NYT article “Would you play ball at Fukushima?”

Thanks to the tweet of Rod Adams, I became aware of a Fukushima-related New York Times article from December 29, 2017.  The article is entitled “Would You Play Ball at Fukushima?”

My instinct is to get really snarky at such a ridiculous question. Would I play ball at Fukushima? Uh no, I haven’t played ball in years and years and years. I hate playing ball. I am not going to play it anywhere.


I want to break down the article and critique it. These are my opinions (in italics), my opinions alone, and not the opinions of other Fukushimers (who may feel differently than me.) No snarkiness from here on out!


Would You Play Ball at Fukushima?

By SETH BERKMAN

FUKUSHIMA-Japan–A sea of brightly colored banners and advertisements decorated Fukushima train station in early November to celebrate coming road races and Fukushima United, the local soccer club.

(This is not unusual. We have had road races here since forever. Fukushima United has been around since 2002, well before the earthquake occured.)

There are new professional baseball and basketball franchises in the region, too. They carry inspirational names like the Hopes and the Firebonds, the latter signifying the spirt of a team connecting to the community, said 21-year-old point guard Wataru Igari.

(Yes. I checked the internet. The “Hopes” name was chosen to be a beacon of light to children affected by the tragedy. The Firebrands are based in Koriyama City,not Fukushima City. (I couldn’t figure are which city the Hopes are based in.))

For an area with a growing interest in sports, the biggest boon came in March when the International Olympic Committee approved Fukushima to host baseball and softball games during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

(Yes. Being considered part of the Olympics is considered a boon for Fukushima, bringing visitors to the area.)

Yet Fukushima remains defined by tragedy.

(Well, I guess it is–by American standards. Virtually no American had heard of Fukushima before the big earthquake. By Japanese standards, though–Fukushima is famous for a lot of things.)

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns and radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Yes, true. It was the water from the tsunami though that really caused the plant to malfunction, not the shaking from the quake itself.) Devastation touches every corner of Fukushima Prefecture, which is about the size of Connecticut. (Not true. Many parts were/are unaffected by earthquake damage, by tsunami devastation or by nuclear radiation.  This article is grossly exaggerating here.) Among the populations of two million residents, more than 160,000 near the power plant fled or evacuated, (I don’t know the exact numbers myself, so I can’t comment. Actually, I doubt anybody knows the exact numbers. There is a difference between people who were forced to evacuate by the governmnent, and the people who were not forced to evacuate, but chose to do so. I am not quite sure if the article is referring to the former group, or to both groups.) while an estimated 16,000 died.  (This is misleading. The people who died in Fukushima died mainly because of the tsunami itself, drowning in it. As a prefecture, fewer people died here than in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures. Sadly, these two other prefectures are often overlooked by western media because there wasn’t a nuclear meltdown there.)

The disaster also damaged the Fukushima name. Tourism declined. The rest of Japan shunned produce or materials from Fukushima. (This is very true.)

Almost seven years later, pockets of the prefecture–mainly in its namesake capital city–are attempting to change its perception through sports. (I am not a sports follower. I have no idea. )

“We are looked at like Chernobyl,” said Saito Nobuyuki, who was born in Fukushima and now owns Sportsland, a sporting goods store here. “It’s difficult to change.”(True. Although, although I am respectful of Nobuyuki, I believe it is obvious why we are looked at like Chernobyl. Only Chernobyl and Fukushima have had actual nuclear meltdowns. Pennsylvania has had a partial meltdown, at Three Mile Island, in the late nineteen seventies.)

Akinori Iwamura is among those hoping to rehabilitate Fukushima’s name. (Good for him.)

Iwamura was the starting second baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series. He also won two World Baseball Classic championships with Japan and played in the Nippon Professional Baseball League for 13 years.

Today, Iwamura, 38, is toiling at the lowest levels of organized baseball. He is the manager of the Fukushima Hopes, a semipro team whose games are sparsely attend (This is Fukushima–mostly countryside. Of course they are sparsely attended. When I lived in Kansas, it was the same problem. Wichita Wings Professional Soccer Team, anybody remember?) Iwamura equated the level of play to Class AA baseball in the United States.

“I call myself a missionary,” Iwamura said. “Even though it’s a negative way many people know the name of Fukushima, we have to change it into a positive way.”  (Good for him.)


I am going to stop there…mostly because I realized that this article is really, really long–and I don’t have time to go through it all. But you can get the basic idea.

Here is the link to the article:

(Fukushimer Andy Coombs pointed out the grammar is off–“At Fukushima?”  Weird wording. “In Fukushima,” Seth. You don’t play baseball at California. You don’t play soccer at Spain. And you don’t play ball at Fukushima.)

************************************************************************

But how about some humor?

WOULD YOU EAT A DELICIOUS SNACK MADE BY YOUR DARLING HUSBAND IN FUKUSHIMA?

Yes, I would!  Yum!