Ode to Hokkaido

Hokkaido – Ainu,

Genghis (khan) curry, skiing,

under-rated bliss


Furano Flowers 

Otaru shopping alleys

Hakodate squid


Sapporo beer fest

with good pal who I hope has

escaped the earthquake


Lake Biei, Hokkaido




Hokkaido harassed

Shocking earthquake hits

the least likely of places –

Hokkaido stay safe!


Japan has really had every weather problem thrown at it this year, even the heat which killed a lot of people in Tokyo.   It was just too much for some people, mostly the elderly.  The latest up to today was the tornado Jebi that has ripped through Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.  Now another earthquake has hit Japan, only in the unlikeliest of places.

An earthquake measuring 6.7 has just hit Sapporo, and a neighbouring town called Atsuma, up in Hokkaido.  This earthquake has caused landslides, another thing you wouldn’t really expect in Hokkaido. To see pictures of streets in Sapporo covered in mud is just unreal.   I never thought Hokkaido would be hit by an earthquake.  I know aftershocks from an earthquake on the main island affected it in 2008 and who knows maybe aftershocks hit it after the earthquake/tsunami in 2011, but an actual earthquake and a pretty strong one at that.    I was not in Hokkaido on my recent trip as I wanted to visit a totally different – yet similar in one way because of its expansive green countryside – part of the archipelago but it will always be special as it was the first place I really explored in Japan and I plan to go back and explore a bit more of this wonderful island.

I hope folks in Hokkaido affected by this and the folks down in Honshu affected by Jebi are keeping safe.   I don’t know of any deaths yet caused by the earthquake /landslides but at least 11 have died because of Jebi.    I imagine people in far western Japan are still recovering from the hurricane and landslides a couple of months ago.   Let’s not forget people in other, poorer, parts of the world who are also affected by weather disasters.  Mother Nature of course is blind to rich or poor countries in wrecking her devastation and recovery can be tough everywhere (and people who have lost family members or homes deserve compassion wherever they live in the world).

Climate change and its strange consequences cannot be denied, whether or not a country, like Japan, is earthquake prone by nature.  Some countries have had unusually hot summers while other places have had unusually late starting or short summers.    Anyone who denies climate change has to be an idiot in the extreme.



Happy new year 2017

Less earthquakes, poor weather

more gems in cinema and

happy blog writing


Well, 2017 is fast approaching, just less than half a day left for me here but just a couple of hours away for Japan.   How amazing it would be to celebrate New Year’s in Tokyo.  I might try for next year.  Apparently, the countdown is going to be a second or more longer this year to ensure that world clocks match up with atomic clocks.  Sounds odd to me but I guess we have to make sure those atom seconds aren’t running ahead of us!  It will be odd for people who don’t know of this – they might be thinking ‘hey that was way too silent why isn’t everyone celebrating! Oh ok here we are!’

Speaking of silence, I’m re-reading the novel by Shusaku Endo and am finding it as brilliant as when I read it first.  The film Silence is coming out tomorrow in the UK and Ireland so I’ve got that in my diary to go and see.

Glad to see Shinzo Abe made his visit to Pearl Harbour.  That went as expected.   I saw an interesting documentary this week on a British television channel, known for good quality and credible documentaries, alleging that Pearl Harbour may just have happened with the prior knowledge, via newly discovered intelligence, of Churchill and Roosevelt, both hoping to bring the US into the war.  They apparently just let Japan get on with this attack much to the shock of certain senior navy staff who were unaware of this going on and genuinely were shocked when they found out (so Tora tora tora still is factual in depicting the shock of certain senior staff)

Meanwhile, Abe also has to keep on the good side of Russia who they are trying to negotiate with over the Kuril islands.   Putin is arrogant as ever in his negotiations.

While I don’t think it takes much to antagonise China, you can’t blame China and South Korea for wondering why Abe stays silent on apologies or at least expressions of ‘condolence and regret’ for Japan’s treatment of their two countries during and prior to World War II.  Maybe he thinks he does not need to given the fact that prior, less hawkish, Japanese prime ministers have done enough apologising which he maybe didn’t agree with at the time – ‘Right! That’s enough apologising to you two – we’re done!’   I know he needs the US on his side considering North Korea is threatening and China are always on the ready but I find his behaviour all so obsequious when it comes to the US, and now Russia.

I hope 2017 is a good year for people in Japan – less earthquakes, threatened or real, less freaky weather, less threats from their neighbour North Korea, more equality for women in the workplace and hopefully more good films come out of Japan (over anything else in my opinion as someone looking in).  I hope to make this a year I get to travel to Japan by which time I’ll have improved my Japanese a whole lot more.    Even if I haven’t, I’d survive no problem on what I have.

I hope 2017 is a good one for you all blog writers out there !!