Tokyo Rainy Season 2016

The tsuyu (“plum rain”) rainy season doesn’t kick off officially in Tokyo until June 8, but already a steady rain is falling from skies the colour of dirty rice water. And is forecast to continue to do so every day this week…

Actually, the weather changed abruptly around mid-morning Saturday, Tokyo time. Until then, we’d enjoyed a gloriously warm, sunny, relatively dry early summer – perfect for hanging laundry (just saying). Then, before noon, sombre grey clouds overcast the city, the temperature dropped — and my allergies went into overdrive.

Fortunately, Japan has very effective over-counter-allergy medicine. Unfortunately, the best of the weather may be behind us here in the Big Sushi – and the rest of Japan. The forecast is apparently for a “La Niña” climate cycle to replace the El Niño, bringing – yet another – record-breaking hot summer.

We won’t be alone. Apparently for the first time in history, the whole planet has been setting month after month of heat records since March of 2015, which is itself a record: never before have there been 12 consecutive months of record heat.

 

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Tokyo Snow Fallout

The morning after…

Ebisu at Dawn
Ebisu at Dawn

Well, Tokyo’s first snow storm of the season has passed, and already the melt has set in. Other parts of the country, such as Hokkaido and the Tohoku region, have more snow in the immediate forecast; here in The Big Sushi, however, temperatures should be back in the double digits by tomorrow – that’s Wednesday, Tokyo time.

Back to yesterday’s blizzard… I have to say, it may not be the worst snow storm I’ve seen in my 13+ years in Tokyo (the heavy snowfall on February 9, 2014 set a 45-year record), but it was the worst commuting mess I’ve ever experienced. I left home as usual around 6am, which normally gets me to work by 7:15 or so. Yesterday, however, what with the treacherous walking conditions and the train delays, I finally arrived at 8:35 – almost 1 1/2 hours late. Even so, I was one of the first to make it in, and as others arrived late into the morning the horror stories only got worse: longer delay times, dangerously over-crowded trains and platforms with no safety barriers between passengers and the tracks below. R. tells me she had to wait 50 minutes outside (by then it was raining) just to get into the station. From there, the express train ride which normally takes 20 minutes took 1 1/2 hours. As the over-crowded train waited at local stations with its doors closed, passengers started to choke in the unventilated cars, causing further delays as train crews had to make extra stops to remove sick passengers – which resulted in further delays and even more sick passengers.

According to the talk at work this morning, Tokyo’s train operators decided to remove trains from service in the event of such a snow crisis as this one as a result of a commuter train crash back in February of 2014. problem is, apparently, they didn’t bother to tell anyone… So it goes.

 

Extreme Weather: Typhoon Vongfong in Tokyo

5:30 am Tuesday Tokyo time and all is quiet around here. The cicadas are chirping away again, and a pair of chickadees are having a domestic dispute in the bushes outside my open study window. Despite Vongfong being described as the worst storm so far this typhoon season, and some real damage, injuries, and home evacuations in other parts of Japan, Vongfong seems to have been little more than a heavy rain storm here in the Big Sushi.

Today’s weather forecast calls for partly cloudy and a high of 26 degrees Celsius. Back to business…

I’d write more, but I expect trains are running and I have to get to school…

Portraits of Trees

Trees

Portraits of Trees

What more to say? A gallery of tree portraits taken mostly in Japan (a few from Kingston, Ontario). All of these pictures were taken with an Olympus: either e-p1, e-p3, or e-p5 (what can I say? I like the Olympus Pen cameras!), with a Lumix 20mm, or m.Zuiko 25 or 45, all prime natch…

Extreme Weather: Typhoon Phanfone Reaches Tokyo (Monday Morning)

(Update: here in Nishi Tokyo, the storm peaked around 10:30am with a few hair-raising, house-shaking gusts of rain and wind, but by 11:30 all was quiet and the sun starting to come out. I went out to forage among the wreckage and fight tooth and claw with other scavengers for… buy garlic consomme bread bread for lunch. Seriously, R. made it safely to work in Ginza, and I haven’t yet heard of any real damage or injuries from other parts of Tokyo. looks like Tokyo’s luck held strong through yet another potential catastrophe…)

… and then, right around 10:30am, the rain started to rage and the wind to kick up. Not sure how strong the gusts are, but for now I’ve still got the door from my study to the driveway open.

Back in the Big Sushi

Narita Airport Terminal 1 Underground Passage
Narita Airport Terminal 1 Underground Passage

Got back a couple of days ago from my annual visit to my “other” home, Toronto. Yes, it was a great trip, thanks for asking.

I always have mixed feelings on leaving Toronto and returning to Tokyo. On the one hand, I really enjoy visiting family and friends and familiar haunts (such as the public reference library, and the UofT campus – I know, I know… 24-hour party people) in my old hometown. I love to walk, and Toronto’s streets and alleys make for great walking – and the weather usually co-operates by cooling down overnight and staying that way into the morning. All the hassles of daily life in T.O. (oh the TTC! ooh construction!!) don’t really get to me: I’m on holidays! nowhere to be, nothing to do. Perfect Zenlike simplicity. Streetcar delayed? Hey, isn’t that a Starbucks over there? Sweet. I could just retire into my Golden Years… Continue reading “Back in the Big Sushi”