Six years to the day.

On the morning of 22 November 2016, I switched on the TV and allowed the morning news to play in the background whilst I got ready for another day of sightseeing. Suddenly, normal broadcasting was interrupted and warnings began to flash, with reports coming in thick and fast of a major earthquake that had just taken place off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. Despite the fact that I was a very great distance west of where it struck – at that point in my journey I was staying in Matsuyama, on the island of Shikoku – the urgent warnings raised uncomfortable thoughts about an earlier event, far worse than the present one. What I found most chilling of all was the message delivered by the newsreaders as the tsunami warnings were broadcast: Isoide nigete kudasai.

Three words, spoken calmly yet with uncompromising firmness, over and over and over again.

Remember and pray, even as one looks to the future with hope.

Travel expands one’s horizons … and one’s vocabulary

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Holidaying in Japan can be quite the educational exercise, and it often requires no more than switching on the telly and tuning into the morning news. (A good habit to have whilst getting dressed for another day of sightseeing, if only to learn what the weather will be like.) In the course of the viewing, one tends to pick up certain words that keep being repeated due to their increased relevance at a particular moment in time.

For example, I was in the country during the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the pervasive coverage of Japan’s performance in Sochi led me to learn a new word: senshu (選手), in this context used as an occupational honorific after competing athletes’ names (e.g., Hanyū-senshu). A rather severe raft of snowstorms also took place during that period, frequent news reports of which added another word to my arsenal: ōyuki (大雪), referring to heavy snow.

I’ve just returned from my 12th holiday in Japan, accompanied not merely by bags of socially obligatory omiyage and a rather bad head cold probably caught from a fellow commuter on the train somewhere, but by yet another fresh item for my linguistic catalogue: jikidaitōryō (次期大統領), meaning “president-elect”.

I don’t think I need even mention the chap whose dominance of news reports during my stay has drilled this new word into my head. (^_^)

Fewer, fewer, and fewer still

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun (via The Japan News), Japan’s population dipped for the first time since modern census records began nearly a century ago.

I could spin out a lengthy discourse on the implications of this long-term slide … but I shan’t. Have a look at that article – it’s not just about the total population but also the demographic makeup of Japan, which makes for interesting reading – and spare a moment to ponder the repercussions, upon the anime/manga industry amongst others.

I wonder if they’d let him ride THIS train

So Darkness Inoue wasn’t allowed to board the shinkansen. Sad.

Perhaps he should have a go at this train instead.

“Darkness Inoue” is the most awesome name anyone’s ever used for a teddy bear. Ever.

Oh, and you can’t bring giant purple teddy bears on the shinkansen.

Cheerio.

Fancy meeting you in Nagoya, my fair undines

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Whilst holidaying in Nagoya a few weeks ago, I popped into an Animate store not far from my hotel. I certainly didn’t expect to find this mere moments after stepping inside.

Full write-up and review to follow … well, maybe. Time and energy permitting.

Cheerio.

One more for the Tōhoku sightseeing list

I’m heading south and west for my next visit to Japan, but I’ve already begun to sketch out future plans for the north-east – a region I’ve only been to a couple of times in the last few years. I’ll see if I can squeeze in this rather interesting-looking manga museum, which until today I didn’t even know existed (and probably never would have if I hadn’t come across an article about it in the Asahi Shimbun).