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.



Poetry Day

Happy national

poetry day to all my

fellow haiku scribes!


Well, for the day that’s in it – National Poetry Day – I thought I should come back and write a post.  I haven’t been around in a while despite all that’s been going on over in Japan’s part of the world:

North Korea is

posing a bigger threat but

Aso still an ass.


Yes, North Korea is one thing but having a minister like Aso on your team who says things like ‘H~~~ had the right idea in the 1930s’ (won’t type out his name for obvious reasons) is no help to politics in Japan or Japan’s reputation abroad.  You’re on the brink of being wiped out by a bullying nutcase neighbour and you hero worship another genocidal nutcase from the past?   What an ass (to put it mildly).   Shinzo Abe with his raised right arm tendencies doesn’t help either!!    I’m glad he’s getting a scare from the current governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, who has formed a new party which is already threatening his poll ratings, already low.  She says she won’t run against him in the next elections to be PM because she wants to focus on Tokyo 2020.    She was his defence minister at one point and is a conservative populist (don’t like that word too much) but apparently she wants to challenge the political old guard. Becoming the first female governor of Tokyo has given her a good start there!   The Party of Hope is the name of her party. Let’s hope it lasts a while and doesn’t turn bad.  She certainly is scaring him in the polls.  We can’t let long-time leaders like right-arm raising Abe get too comfortable can we.     Things are certainly looking very dark over there right now, even with the Party of Hope hoping to bring some light in.  I’m almost glad I’m not in Japan these days.

Speaking of darkness of another kind, and onto one of my favourite topics of conversation, film, A third murder, Hirokazu Koreeda’s most recent film (for the first time in a while, or ever, not really about family issues which is his speciality), which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival this year, explores the dark side of being a lawyer defending a client who admits to a crime even if the lawyer doubts his guilt.  Is he covering up for someone? Well, who cares!!  I’d like to see this at some point.


Kore-eda strikes

again to give us a slice

of life in Japan.


I have another film to see before that, which is also about a pretty dark area of society – American society.   It’s called Wind River, set on a reservation (the actual Wind River reservation where it was filmed) in Wyoming where an experienced park ranger helps an inexperienced FBI agent to investigate the death of a young Native American woman, found lying dead in the snow.   Missing or murdered Native American women (and First Nation women in Canada) is an ongoing problem, mostly neglected if not ignored by authorities (in Canada at least, I’m not as sure about the US) and reservations in America have other problems too.    Some very good actors in this and it’s directed by the man who screen-wrote Hell or High Water last year (also a very good film where Jeff Bridges, a very good actor most will agree, as the Texas Ranger chasing sibling bank robbers – robbing branches of the bank which has taken back their ill mother’s farm/house – has his scenes stolen (geddit?) by the actor playing his Native American (Comanche)-Mexican partner, who plays the grieving father of the murdered young woman in Wind River – a brilliant character actor).  I’ve read some very interesting books lately exploring the history of Native Americans and the American West.  I  admire to some extent the chiefs and rebels from various tribes who resisted and only gave in for the good, or so they were led to think, of their people.  They were robbed in every way and yes the murder of settlers by some Indians was definitely not right either but ‘there were good and bad Indians and good and bad whites but the whites only saw the bad in the Indian’, to paraphrase a quote from one leader.  Incidentally, one of the books covers the Texas Rangers who were originally created as a form of militia back in the 19th century in order to hunt down Indians.  There were some white figures in US history who come out looking relatively good but not enough of them. I’ve watched and am watching some dramas and documentaries on the subject as well (which also cover earlier periods, in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the early pilgrims arrived in the East of the States) but the books are brilliant.   I got both out of the library – and am waiting for another one, long live libraries – but am planning to buy one of them now so I can have it in my collection to refer to in the future.   Definitely not a book that will be left in 積読/tsundoku state (the Japanese term for books bought and then left piled up and unread) – not that many books I buy are.

Back to Japan, well I don’t think there is that much else happening there at the moment (though on the positive side, in terms of film, it’s nice to see good films continuously coming out, especially by Hirokazu Kore-eda).  They have their hands full I imagine with North Korea, and certain idiotic politicians.

So that’s it for today.  I hope no-one minded me going off-track there to talk about a non-Japanese issue.   Actually, apart from the fact the film mentioned is a worthy one (and starting a film blog is something I’m not ready to do yet), there are some parallels in the story of native Americans with Japanese history, as back in the 19th century if not earlier, the Japanese government also mistreated and wiped out most of the Ainu, the aboriginals of Japan.  They also humiliated other Japanese who weren’t seen as equal to them.   They could do what they wanted and got away with it.


The world is small with

governments showing

evil in common


More in another while.