Wednesday, 11 May 2011


During the golden week time many Japanese people go on vacation. As a result we can see my festivals in Japan. Due to the earthquake these have been heavily reduced.

One of my favorites is the yosakoi festival in Aomori.

This year there were a few problems with the Kanto festival demonstration.

YouTube Video

Luckily nobody was hurt.

YouTube Video

Many people came out to see the cherry blossoms too.
My wife wore her kimono but unfortunately she was the only one.

Now cherry blossoms have finished and the streets are quiet around hirosaki. Much quieter than Aomori.


Monday, 2 May 2011

Fall in tourism in Aomori prefecture

Now is the golden week holiday but with the high speed Japanese Shinkansen train still not working from the earthquake tourism has declined in northern Japan.

The city of hirosaki is said to be one of the most beautiful places to see cherry blossoms during the holiday season. Thousands of people from all around the world flock to see the beautiful pink blossom.

This year however people have cancelled their plans either due to the lack of transport or out of fear of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Much of Aomori prefecture relies on tourism as it is an isolated city from much of Japan. Late last year saw the arrival of the first Shinkansen from Tokyo to Aomori city running at 300km an hour and can make the trip in 3hrs 10mins.

As of this time the Shinkansen is running at a reduced speed.

Despite the reduction in visitors the cherry blossoms still came out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Monday, 18 April 2011

Is Japan trying to kill me?

The past three years living in Japan have been the most life threatening. I have spent most of my life in England having been born there and grew up there. It wasn't until I just turned 22 that I left for Japan.

In all those 22 years living in England I have never been in hospital for anything more than an in growing toe nail. The only time I spent the night in a hospital was by choice when my parents wanted my ears straightened when I was very young.

Before leaving for Japan I looked up advice about vaccines and common diseases in Japan. There was nothing serious suggested but I still went and had a full course of hepatitis B vaccines. The course was three injections over three months and was not available free on the NHS. I decided to take the course even though the affects of hepatitis B were not severe in Japan because exposure was minimal. Better safe than sorry right!

I had other vaccinations before such as MMR so I went feeling I would probably get stomachache and worst.

About 4 months into my trip to Japan I got bumps all over my body. The first doctor I went to told me I had flea bites as the bumps were only minor. I threw away all my bedding and cleaned my apartment with a raging fever. The next day the bumps got bigger and started to blister. I went to a skin doctor who diagnosed me with chicken pox. The following days the bumps got bigger and spread all over my body. My fever was so high they took me into hospital where I stayed for the week.

I didn't want to see anyone in the hospital as I was covered in bumps and I could not wash or shave. My girlfriend, Yuuri (now my wife), was worried about me but I would not let her see me until I gave in and she came. She visited me every time she could. She would bring me food and drinks and talk to me. It made me realise how much she must have liked me.

I spent the next week indoors at home not going outside. The doctors did tests and said my liver was damaged. After more tests they concluded I had caught hepatitis C and briefed me on how I will have to take injections for the rest of my life and how I will have fits of great depression, possibly even feeling suicidal.

This was a scary prospect for someone who had barely spent a year away from home in a foreign country. The doctors told me to wait 4 months and not to drink. They said if my liver recovered then I had not caught the hepatitis C virus. That was a painful 4 months, not only could I not drink, and I needed a drink at that time, I had to prepare myself for bad news.

4 months later and the doctors told me I hadn't. I felt bad anyway, at least at first but surely enough I felt good to be healthy and I hadn't itched my scars so they mostly healed well.

The next year set to go well and later on I was set to finish my contract with AEON. Although the last few months I had caught a cold with a persistent cough. I should have gone to the doctors but on my day off I had concert tickets in Tokyo and I was really looking forward to it. I took a load of painkillers and went and had a great time. I was feeling rough though.

I came back and still had a bad cough all month, it was really hurting my chest. With a week left at work I did a busy Saturday and was feeling tired. I cycled home but was really getting out of breath. At home I lay down but every breath was so painful. I fell to the floor and called Yuuri again, i could barely speak and I lay on the floor waiting for her.

Yuuri took me to the hospital and I was in so much pain. Every breath felt like my lungs were getting smaller and my heart was being squeezed.
The doctor x-rayed me and eventually gave me painkillers. With painkillers I could inhale again, it was the pain that stopped me so much.

The diagnosis this time was pneumonia with pleurisy. The inside of my left lung had filled with fluid and it had surrounded the outside of my lung too. The left side was pushing hard against my heart every time I inhaled. I missed my leaving party and my final week at work.

It seemed Japan was trying to kill me but I thought I just had bad luck. I left Japan soon after and didn't return for 6 months.

The next time I came back was in February 2011, almost three years later. I was starting my home and new life further south. I was offered a place in Ishinomaki a beautiful coastal town near Sendai. I accepted almost instantly but was asked if I could change to the mountainous area of Tendo in Yamagata. I felt down about losing such a beautiful area such as Ishinomaki but decided it is better to be cooperative and I took the place in Tendo.

The next month a huge tsunami came a swept Japan, taking with it the town of Ishinomaki. Many people died and most were left homeless including the teacher of Ishinomaki. I was safe in the mountains of Yamagata but danger was near.

About 160km away the earthquake had struck Fukushima nuclear power plant and it was venting radiation. People were evacuating from the cities. My company offered to send me to Hirosaki in the north prefecture of Aomori. This was the very same prefecture where I had originally come to when I first started in Japan. Although it has been difficult finding a home here. The future seems safer at least from a life and death point of view.

I hope Japan is not trying to kill me but I am getting suspicious.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Friday, 8 April 2011

Second earthquake

Another big earthquake hit japan last night.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck knocking out power and gas in northern japan. The quake came from the same place as the first one on 11/3.

A tsunami warning followed and a few people are seriously injured.

Currently there are no trains so work is cancelled.


Thursday, 7 April 2011


I finally got a truck to go to yamagata and get my stuff.
It's been difficult getting a truck due to the earthquake and everyone moving.

It was a long 5 hour drive there and back but we needed to keep costs down so Yuuri's father drove.

We took the Tohoku expressway south. This is the fastest road but also expensive. ¥19,000 return.

Once in yamagata tendo we quickly loaded up.

The road was bumpy and in a bad way due to earthquake damage.

We drove through sun, night and heavy snow by the end. We left the stuff in the truck and went to bed.

We rented the truck for 24hrs 8am-8am. So next morning we got up early still tired from the journey. We unloaded the furniture into Yuuri's grandmothers garage.

There it stays, I asked my company if they'd help pay the ¥65,000 it cost to drive the truck. They eventually offered to pay ¥40,000.

My company has also not helped me find a place to live. I'm lucky I can stay with Yuuri's parents but most of my clothing and furniture is in storage.

I've been very disappointed with how my company has organised this transfer. Having only been with the company a couple of months this is a bad introduction.

I work in hirosaki city so I take 2 trains to work everyday costing ¥1800 a day.

I hope I can find a place soon.


Thursday, 31 March 2011


Since being transferred to hirosaki Aomori since the quake we have been trying to get settled.

I have been sharing an apartment rented by the school with the outgoing teacher. He is great and I knew him when he first came to Aomori 2 years ago.

I decided not to take his apartment since it's old and small. Perfect for one single teacher travelling with no furniture. The school also offer furnished apartments at additional cost. Since I had my own furniture I opted not to take the school package.

Now they are in a predicament because now they have a furnished apartment and no one to stay in it.

I still have no where to stay though because I have not had chance to look round due to working all week. Even if I could find somewhere it would still be unfurnished.

The school have asked me to buy the furniture anyway which seems crazy since I already have my own. I also have to leave Friday so this weekend I'm going to be homeless again.

Although we have no classes and plenty of admin time I still can't take a day off to make this work more smoothly.

It all comes down to this weekend.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Radiation level 5 beware

Radiation levels are still a worry for the people in japan.
It has been officially revealed that neutrons have been released with the radiation.

This makes us worry about just how much more the government hasn't told us.

The radiation level has also been increased to five.

Iodine tablets help stop people from absorbing the radiation. These tablets also come with big health risks.
It's recommend that people eat seaweed. This can also help with less side effects.

If iodine tablets are acquired then the best time to take them is only when you are exposed to the radiation.


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