Tokyo Kills Me: Photos

Tokyo Kills me, 2008

Ongoing Updates (5.26.18). Snapshots from daily life in and around Tokyo, a.k.a. “The Big Sushi,” at the end of the second millennium and the start of the third.

Check out the most recent pictures posted, circa 2007-2008, at Tokyo Kills Me: Photos

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Tokyo Kills Me: Photos

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Ongoing Updates (5.23.18). Snapshots from daily life in and around Tokyo, a.k.a. “The Big Sushi,” at the end of the second millennium and the start of the third.

See more at Tokyo Kills Me: Photos

Tokyo Kills Me: Photos

Ongoing Updates (5.20.18). Snapshots from daily life in and around Tokyo, a.k.a. “The Big Sushi,” at the end of the second millennium and the start of the third.

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See more snaps at Tokyo Kills Me: Photos 

Shirakawago: Traditional Farmhouse Village in the Japanese Countryside

An open-air “living museum” of traditional farmhouses deep in Japan’s countryside

Shirakawago; Gifu, Japan

Steep-sloped thatched rooftops reach for the sky like hands raised in prayer. Narrow, fast-flowing drainage ditches alive with carp and trout knit the rice paddies and the hulking, three- and four-story farmhouses together into the village of Ogimachi, the main attraction of the Shirakawago region in a remote, pine-covered mountain valley in Gifu prefecture. The total effect is like something out of a Japanese folktale perhaps: Momotaro Peach Boy, or a whimsical Ghibli Studios anime such as My Neighbor Totoro.

Read the rest of the post here…

Wild Japan: an explorer’s guide

Snow Monsters of Zao; Tohoku Japan
Snow Monsters of Zao; Tohoku Japan

Wild Japan: an explorer’s guide to the islands, mountains, forests, and other natural settings in the land of the rising sun is now online at https://medium.com/@aaronpaulson/wild-japan-an-explorers-guide-to-the-islands-mountains-forests-and-other-natural-settings-in-ae8c216934d0

Check it out for first-hand suggestions of where to trek in Japan!

Snow Monsters of Zao

Snow Monsters of Zao; Tohoku Japan

By some measures, Japan is the snowiest place on earth, and winter in areas such as the Tohoku region north of Tokyo add to that rep. The Zaosan (蔵王山) mountains, on the border between Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures, for example, gets around 12 metres dumped on its forested slopes each season. That’s a far cry from the 40-metre (120-plus feet) epic blanket that smothers the Japanese Alps around Nagano each year (there’s a reason houses in the countryside traditionally have a second front door, upstairs), but still more than enough to transform this range of stratovolcanoes, crater lakes, and subalpine fir trees into a magical fantastical winter wonderland each year…

Read the rest of the story and see more pictures at https://medium.com/the-big-sushi/snow-monsters-of-zao-japan-9f6853a2523

Extreme Weather: How Hot is Tokyo in Summer?

Recently a question was posed on Quora: “How is the Tokyo summer heat?”. Here’s the bulk of my answer:

…   June is the rainy season: not as hot, but, well rainy (though not every day). July is, apparently, the most humid Weather and Climate: Average monthly Rainfall, Sunshine, Temperatures, Humidity, Wind Speed. August is the hottest.

It’s been a long time – 35 years? – since I visited Arizona in summer, specifically Sun City West where my grandparents retired. What I remember, however, is the dry heat you mention. even coming from my hometown of Toronto, a place not known for being particularly hot at any time of the year, I was surprised that the 100-degree-plus days didn’t FEEL hotter than they did (seems to me the hottest temp during one of my visits was 116).

By contrast, a hot day in Tokyo reaches 35 degrees Celsius, sometimes topping 38 (100 degrees Fahrenheit). However, there are two additional factors to take into consideration: humidity, and the heat-island effect.

Offhand, I can’t find any useful stats on just how humid Tokyo can be in the summer, but I can recall days where the temp was around 38 and the humidity above 90%. According to the Heat Index calculator at the National Weather Centre, that works out to 178 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, that ain’t the average, as I say, and I’m not sure any days reached that high in the summer of 2016, but it gets there – and in the summer of 2015 there was a record number of straight days of temps above 35 celsius in early August – in fact I posted about it Big Sushi, Little Fishes: a japan blog

The other consideration is the heat-island effect. I don’t know of any way to calculate how much concrete can raise the ambient temperature of a city, but I do know that walking ib Shinjuku, say, on a hot summer day, with car and air conditioner exhaust, amidst crowds of sweltering people, and a hot wind blowing up the urban canyonland can be an overwhelming experience. Fortunately, there are bars and cafes and shops and department stores and the like, most with over-active aircon, in which to take refuge!

So yes, of course comfortable weather is a relative phenomenon, and coming from southern Arizona the temps may even be a little low compared to what you’re used to. But temperature is only part of the equation; people who know say that in summer Tokyo is a tropical climate, on par with Singapore and other hotspots in southern Asia.

Of course, life does go on – even in heat-island Shinjuku – and there are mountains nearby to escape to if the heat does get oppressive. So the heat and humidity is no reason not to visit in summer: it’s just a matter of adjusting your inner thermostat, so to speak!