Plum Blossoms in Hanamiyama Park in Fukushima City

Today it was a sunny late winter day, so I headed to Hanamiyama Park, a sightseeing area for flower lovers.

I rode my bicycle.

I wanted to see the plum blossom trees in the area.

It seems that the plum blossoms in the area of Hanamiyama Park are mostly white. Not as striking as the pinkish ones, in my opinion, but still beautiful.

Pink on the left and white on the right.

White plum blossoms. I really like plum blossoms, because they are the first flowers to bloom after our winter. They seem sturdier than cherry blossoms, and thus last longer.

Plum blossoms much less showy than cherry blossoms. That’s good, in my opinion.  Low-key, understated, not likely to embarrass you in public by talking too loudly.

In case you are wondering, these plum blossom trees (and the cherry blossom) trees are ornamental. One does not eat their fruit.

(Fruit is cultivated from different varieties.)

This is the part of my morning where I loudly announce “Jiminy! I’M PLUM TUCKERED OUT!”

At which point, the plum blossom trees pretend to not know me.

 

 

Amy

There are people who live in this area.

This yellow flowering tree was in full bloom. I learned that its Japanese name is ロウバイ    roubai   蝋梅.

I checked my dictionary. “Roubai” translates to as either Wintersweet or Japanese Allspice.

A brilliant pink plum blossom tree!

Wintersweet in foreground. Plum blossom in backgound.

This is a home’s absolutely beautiful pruned garden. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

This crow is feisty. And scrappy. And spunky. She should be the protagonist in a middle grade novel.

Notice how the horizon is straight. I did good–huh? huh? huh?

Wintersweet……..you’re so sweet.

Plum blossoms…..you’re gorgeous.

A whole lot of lovely.

Video of Melted Down Fuel

Popping in to show a video of the melted down fuel, the same fuel that was just recently reached (finally!) by a brave and stalwart robot probe. From a scientific viewpoint, it’s very interesting for you kids to see this video. However, as a Fukushimer, it (meaning the fuel itself) makes me sad. The video comes from TEPCO, the company which owns the power plant.

https://www4.tepco.co.jp/library/movie/detail-j.html?catid=107299&video_uuid=yq53a9f4

 

March Third is Hina Matsuri!

If you want to use a site to make your own paper dolls, click these links:

https://happylilac.net/hasami-hinakazari-01.pdf

https://happylilac.net/hasami-hinakazari-02.pdf

You can also make the dolls by folding squares of paper. (Origami.) There are many sites for origami hina dolls, but here is one. (Click on the orange buttons below for instructions.)

https://www.origami-club.com/hina/ohina1/index.html

Above photo is from the Fukushima Prefecture Museum.

 

 

 

Robots and Students

One of the very worrying issues concerning the meltdowns of 2011 at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant is that clean-up is extremely difficult. A human cannot safely get near the melted fuel in a reactor due to the high radiation.

Thus, robots have been used in attempts to explore the reactors and their melted fuel. It’s been very difficult for these robot probes–they have to be small, able to swim, withstand high radiation, get around obstacles. Until this past week, the robot probes have been unsuccessful.

Here is an article from two years ago about a failed attempt:

http://fortune.com/2016/03/12/fukushima-robot-ground-zero/

Fortunately, this week a robot probe has finally reached the melted fuel in one of the three reactors.

Here’s an article:

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Tepco-makes-contact-with-melted-fuel-in-unit-2

And another article:

https://phys.org/news/2019-02-robot-bits-fuel-japan-fukushima.html


And also this week:

Across Europe, students are skipping school to participate in protests about climate change. The students worry–rightfully so, in my opinion–that adults are ruining their planet. The kids don’t want to inherit an uninhabitable planet.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47250424

Ah.

And this is where it gets difficult.

Fossil fuels (like coal) contribute to global warming.

Nuclear power plants can decrease the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

But then, we have the problem of: What if there is a meltdown? Like what almost happened in Three Mile Island? Like what did happen at Chernobyl’s power plant? Like what also did happen at Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power plant?

This is why I’m encouraging the kids who are reading this blog to study science. Obviously, developments must be made–whether that be with renewable energy sources or with making our electrical products more efficient, or something else that I haven’t thought of.  And science knowledge is necessary (IMO) to become an effective activist helping the environment.

I support these kids. My own son is a kid….and I want him to inherit a healthy planet!

Learning about Radiation µµµµµµµµµµµµ

When the quake occured in 2011, I was here in Fukushima City. Soon after the quake, we became aware of issues at the nuclear power plant, and the tragedy twisted into a terrible drama that unfolded like the plot of a best-selling book…except that there was no handsome hero who saved the day, and there was no happy ending.

My son and I left Fukushima City for my husband’s hometown in Yamagata Prefecture. Most people (including my husband) either had to stay, or wanted to stay, and deal with the literal fallout.

That was years ago.

Looking back, something that was absolutely huge is that I. Did. Not. Know. Anything. About. Radiation.

I got my information about radiation from pop culture. Wasn’t Spiderman bitten by a radioactive spider? Yes, that’s what happened in the original comic. Wasn’t Godzilla roused from the sea by nuclear radiation? Yep.

But scientific knowledge? Um, no.


If I achieve ONE THING with this blog, I’d like to see today’s kids and teens and young adults learn more about the scientific issues. And using that knowledge, they can build a better world. Environmentalism can NOT be achieved without scientific knowledge.

After the meltdowns, my husband purchased a dosimeter off the internet. Cuz, you know, we didn’t already own a device that measured radiation. So anyway, he ordered one. This is what is said this past week when I laid it on our kitchen table and snapped a photo. (Photo from February 2019, downtown Fukushima City)

I know, right?

NUMBERS.

And SQIGGLY THINGS.

So……difficult….to……understand………

………………………………………………………………………………………………..

TODAY’S LESSON

See that µ thingie? Yeah, it looks like a u to me, too. But it’s not. I swear it’s not! µ is actually a Greek letter and in this case it means “micro.”

It is VERY important not to mix up “m” with “µ”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why?

Because:

m means milli 1/1,000

µ means micro 1/1,000,000

IF YOU MIX UP THE m AND THE µ, YOU WILL HAVE DIFFERENT NUMBERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

The Sv stands for “sievert” which is (according to this website) “equivalent dose.”

Are you still with me here?

I know, I know. My attention span is not long, either.

But we stuck through it together, and as a reward, let’s look at a cute cat:

    

If you don’t like cats, here’s a dead pancake.

If you don’t like cute cats and you don’t like dead pancakes, I got nothin’.

 

Mountain range to east of Fukushima City……..(view from my bicycle)

Riding my bicycle along the eastern edge of Fukushima City, I turned my camera to the east and took photos of the mountain range there.

The sign says, “Cycling Road.”

If I were to cross over this river, the city becomes much more countryside.

And also, east of the river there is a mountain range that runs up and down the prefecture. (south—–north)

This mountain range on our east is what separates us in Fukushima City from the coast, and also from the Pacific Ocean.


A picture is worth a thousand words. So instead of explaining it, I drew this not-mathematically-accurate-but-good-enough-for-our-purposes map of Fukushima Prefecture.

You can see that there are LOTS of mountains in Fukushima Prefecture. (Note there there are more mountains in real life than I have drawn on the map. My hand got tired of drawing little triangles.)

Also note that there is a mountain range between the east coast and us in the big cities of Fukushima City/Koriyama City. The nuclear power plant which melted down is located on the coast.

The formally-titled “Exclusion Zone” is the area that was declared to be unlivable due to high radiation. Its occupants were forced to abandon their houses and leave immediately. (Although it is important to note that they STILL own their homes and their land. If a person pokes around inside a home or business without the owner’s permission, it is trespassing.) (Also please note that my map here is VERY VERY VERY approximate. My map is NOT accurate in its depiction.)

I’m hoping that my hand-drawn map can clue the readers of this blog into the locations of places.

Have a nice February. 🙂

Ikebana Exhibit

This morning I went to a local shopping center (DaiYU 8 Max) near my home in Fukushima City. The fourth floor is where my Wednesday Japanese class is held. It’s a catch-all place for different events, and so on. (The fourth floor is NOT a shopping area.)

My teacher told me about an upcoming Ikebana event. (Ikebana is a traditional Japanese art of arranging flowers.) And so here are the photos from my visit this morning! (I asked if photography was allowed, and they were happy for me to take photos.) The creators of these floral artworks are Ikebana teachers here in Fukushima, and also I think one (or two?) is from Tokyo.

So beautiful!

My mother-in-law does ikebana as a hobby. It’s a lovely form of art.

So pretty

I found the materials used very interesting. All from nature, of course.

I don’t know what the round circular plant is called, but my mother used to decorate with it, too. As a child, I found it fascinating!

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to nature, and researching Japanese gardens through books from the library, for my manuscript. I’ll think to myself: Well, how exactly ARE the branches of the cherry blossom tree in winter? So I looked at an actual tree…… (answer: very twiggy!)

Are you paying attention to nature around you? I sure try to! ❤