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! ❤

Bullet train track pics

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

Zoom Zoom Zack Zack

The bullet train (shinkansen) runs through Fukushima City, stopping at our Fukushima Station. It’s very convenient for us here, although the elevated bullet train tracks are an eyesore. Do you think so? Or do you think they are totally awesome?

In the above photos, the bullet train is actually there in the photo, zipping past me along the elevated track! You can’t see anything except the bullet train’s tippy tippy top top (just barely. It’s that slight gray thing that looks like part of the track.) I guess the wall alongside the track is too high for me to get a good photo.

You can see the bullet train in the above photo. (The top half of the bullet train.)

At this point in the tracks, the local train runs below the bullet train tracks. That’s a cargo train in the photo above.

Same local train tracks, but that’s a local passenger train. It’ll go south to Koriyama City, or north to Sendai City, just like the bullet train. Except it’s a fraction of the cost and a multiplication of the time!

A playground. The bullet train tracks can barely be seen. Can you find it? This is like Where’s Waldo? except it is Where’s Tracky?

Tracky is off to the right, behind the house with the red roof.

Happy Setsubun!

It’s now February, and February third is “Setsubun” in Japan. It’s very old and traditional. I believe the traditions associated with it are Japanese in origin. (Many old Japanese customs originate in China, but have become so assimilated into Japan that it can be difficult to know what is actually Chinese in origin and what is Japanese in origin.)

Setsubun is a fun holiday. Usually somebody is the “oni” (a word that can not be translated accurately into English, but is usually translated as “devil.” I don’t like this translation as oni is probably more of a monster or troll…… Like I said, the word can not be accurately translated.)

A person plays the Oni, representing bad luck or misfortune. People (usually kids) throw mame (dried soybeans) at him/her to drive the Oni out of the house, ridding the house of bad luck for the coming spring.  In our region of Tohoku, peanuts in the shell are often used instead of soybeans.

Every year, I do this tradition when I teach English. However, it’s difficult to translate the Japanese:

鬼は外!Oni wa soto!

Literally it is: Oni out!

This sounds awkward in English, so there are a huge number of translations of the phrase Oni wa soto! in English.

There are many Setsubun picture books in Japan, often depicting an adorable Oni. Honestly, who could not love these guys?????!!!!!!

(photo from Amazon.co.jp)

But unfortunately there are no picture books in English that are about Setsubun. I decided to use a much loved picture book because even though it does not depict a Japanese Oni, it does depict a monster. And it teaches “Go away!” That’s basically the meaning of Oni wa soto! Hey, bad guy get outta here!

And the phrase “Go away!” is so useful because my students can use it not only with monsters, but also robbers, mean dogs, siblings, and so on.