Waiting for the typhoon.


Japan is bracing for the arrival of Super Typhoon Lan. Lan has been spinning in the Pacific for several days, but now is headed toward Japan. It should reach the southern islands — including Okinawa — within the next 24 hours. The main Island of Honshu — where Tokyo is — will be impacted within 48 hours and Hokkaido will be brushed as Lan turns more easterly in about 72 hours. This is the strongest typhoon we have had so far this year. We had several storms last fall — including 5 small ones within a two week period — but I think this will be the strongest storm we have experienced since moving to Japan.

We both use The Weather Channel app on our phones for weather information here in Japan, but sometimes it is pretty hit and miss. I can’t help but think that TWC focuses more on US weather than on the weather here in Japan. We do get alerts and warnings from the US State Department, and we both received email about this storm with links to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Last we checked, top winds for this storm would be about 135 mph… but by the time the storm reaches Tokyo on Monday, the winds are expected to be more in the 40 to 60 mph range. Total rainfall for our area is predicted to be about 10 inches or so… and a possible storm surge of 3 to 5 inches. Last years storm winds produced a noticeable swaying here in our high-rise apartment building. It will be interesting to experience a storm of this magnitude.

But — no one here in Tokyo seems to be particularly alarmed about the storm. As far as I know there are no evacuations or warnings out for our immediate area. There will be strong winds, and heavy rains, that will no doubt disrupt travel for the Monday morning commutes to work. My husband has been told to watch the weather, and not take any chances getting to the office on Monday. We can see his office from our apartment. It is a short walk, but even a short walk in those weather conditions could be hazardous. No doubt those employees commuting in on the trains will not be able to get there, or will at very least be delayed.

Other than that… it seems business as usual. Raingear is taken very seriously here, with most people on foot (without access to cars.) We all have raincoats, boots and serious umbrellas. Everyone has an umbrella. Even small children carry there very own umbrella… no sharing. Despite the weather, people still have to get out and about to the store, to work, to school. Wearing raingear, and having access to an umbrella is a routine part of life living in this urban area. Something that we often neglected when we lived in the US and had our warm, dry cars to travel around in.


It has been raining here since we got back from South Korea day before yesterday, and looks like we still have another two or three days of wet weather to come. We will be keeping the umbrellas handy.


Annyeong, South Korea

It’s the “he” part of the blog team, writing from the Korean Air lounge in Busan, South Korea. For almost two years, I’ve lead a team preparing for a large international conference to be held in Gyeongju, South Korea. The meeting was held this week…it went well, and now for the most part, it is over.

The colleagues I’ve worked with in Korea have become friends. We’ve gone beyond the cultural differences, and even worked through the language difficulties. We now have a mutual respect that has turned to a genuine interest in each other as people.

Now, as I prepare to board the plane from Busan for probably the last time, I look back on this time as an outstanding opportunity. I’ve been able to see another culture, and become familiar with a part of the world I never dreamed I would experience. It has been a touching experience, and I must say I feel a great sadness that this part of my life has passed.

With the world situation today, I fear what the future could bring for my Korean friends. I can only hope that some sense of reason will prevail, and we will get through these times safely.

So for now, I say annyeong — goodbye — to Korea. It is a place and a people I have come to enjoy and appreciate. I look forward to returning to see my friends sometime in the not too distant future.

Water and Wildlife…

I love Tokyo. And, I love the area of Tokyo where we live. Even though we live in a 30-floor apartment tower surrounded by many other — and bigger — apartment towers, our “neighborhood” is very residential. Children walk along the sidewalks on their way to school, there are moms with babies and toddlers on bikes, in strollers and baby packs. Workers walk to their offices. People are running and jogging, and walking their dogs. It is very quiet and peaceful.

This part of Tokyo is all built up on artificial islands — land that has been reclaimed from Tokyo Bay — and many of these islands are separated by canals. I love to walk and run along these canals. Most of the islands have walkways built alongside the canals with plenty of places to sit and relax. It is a popular place for people to take their lunch or have a break. It is IN the city, yet it doesn’t feel like it is IN the city.

I have started taking photos of the water in the canals. Something about the inky darkness of the water breaks the reflections of the buildings and bridges into interesting patterns of shapes and colors. I never really noticed this about water before, and just stumbled upon it because it showed up in the photos I took of the ducks and wildlife along the canal. So… here you go… Just a few of my favorites.

This was actually taken along the Meguro River, with the sun reflecting off the swirling water.
Turned this one sideways… liked it better that way.
Love the blue…
And the circles.

Let’s add some wildlife… ducks in these photos, but we see heron, egrets, cormorants, seagulls, and pigeons. There are turtles, and lots of fish — some of the fish are more than two feet long. We also see jellyfish in the brackish water of the canals.

Northern Pintail
And another… I like the flashes of green in the water. the bridge he was swimming under is green and reflected on the water.
This is a Teal. And you can almost see the windows of the building reflected in the water.
Spot-bill Duck. The ducks here have their seasons… Spot-bills are here in the summer, and raise their babies on the canals. They leave in the fall, and the other ducks come back for the winter. In the winter we see about a dozen different species of ducks.
This is a Tufted Duck… black and white, but the head is actually a very dark purple. Note the patterns in the water.
Northern Shoveler — the water is almost as colorful as the duck. Can you tell why he is called a “shoveler”…lol.
And another shoveler — and interesting patterns in the water.
Tufted Duck.
And now you can see his “tuft”…
And this Tufted Duck sitting in the colored swirls of water. The sky and the high-rise buildings around the canal made these colors.

Adoption in Japan

No, we aren’t really going to adopt children, or even pets, in Japan. But we are adopting … or rather collecting… Kokeshi dolls. We started when we saw one at a festival, and decided to buy it. After that, it has started to become sort of an obsession.

IMG_3252.JPGKokeshi dolls are wooden figures, many of them decades old. They were originally produced by onsen public baths as souvenirs in the Tohoku region in Japan. They have unique sizes, shapes and each one has a different face. Different locations have different kinds of faces. It’s fascinating to see these, and they are plentiful at flea markets.

There are may kinds of things that people can buy as souvenirs of Japan. For us we will have some Kokeshi dolls as a remembrance of our time in Japan.