Holiday in Atami, part 1

Now that travel is difficult because of coronavirus COVID-19, I remembered my trip to Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture. I wanted to go to Shimoda, also known as Pallet Town in Pokemon, but it was too far. I thought to myself that because Atami is also in the Izu Peninsula and that Atami (熱海) means “hot sea”, it would be a good vacation destination. I was not disappointed.

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Who’s Afraid of the Coronavirus?

Wearing masks during flu outbreaks.
When there are flu outbreaks in Japan, everybody wears masks. I was having fun in the history department of my school.

The coronavirus is causing quite a stir here in Japan. Because of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked schools to close in March to prevent the spread of the disease. Following the request of Prime Minister Abe, schools will cancel all classes and extracurricular activities for the two weeks, preceding March break, which comes before the new school year. Some people I know are panicking but is it too much?

According to this map from the Japan Times (the English version of the Yomiuri Shinbun), the most affected prefectures are Hokkaido, Aichi and Tokyo. Some prefectures have only a few cases. Do the Japanese have reason to panic?

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Typhoons Hagibis and Jebi in Japan

On October 12th, typhoon No. 19 Hagibis struck central Japan and the Kanto region. This was the second big typhoon I’ve experienced but luckily, it did not hit Hamamatsu hard. It was not as scary as last year’s big typhoon, No. 21 Jebi. I will describe my experience of both typhoons.

What Happens During Typhoons?

The skies turn grey and the rain pours. Then, strong winds arise. Rain drops strike windows like bullets. The heavy rain can cause landslides and floods. The winds fell trees, blocking roads, and hurl any object from roof tiles to bicycles into the air.

When a typhoon is announced, people rush to grocery stores and convenience stores. Bread, onigiri (stuffed rice balls), bento (traditional Japanese pre-packed meals), various drinks… all foods ready to eat disappear from the stores and shelves are left empty.

Warnings are broadcast on the media telling people to stay home and prepare for black outs and lack running water. People are also advised not to leave objects such as laundry racks and toys outside.

Tape to protect injuries from broken glass.

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Kyoto Robot Buddhist Priest

In the August edition of the Japan Times, a group of Buddhist priest from Kodaiji temple in Kyoto presented the first ever robot Buddhist priest. It can memorize sutras and recite them in Chinese and Japanese. It can give sermons. The priests state that the robot cost $1 million and will attract young people because the robot is not an old “fuddy-duddy” like them. Was the robot worth the money?

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NJPW G1 Climax in Hamamatsu

NJPW G1 Climax 29 ring

Growing up, I’ve always watched American Pro Wrestling such as the WWF (now WWE) and WCW. When YouTube was invented, I started seeing my favourite North American wrestlers in a whole different setting: Japanese pro wrestling. Since then, I had dreamed of watching Japanese pro wrestling. My dream came true when I got tickets for the 15th night of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) G1 Climax 29 tournament in Hamamatsu on August 7th.   I could not help notice the differences between American and Japanese pro wrestling, and pro-wrestling on TV and live.

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