Flooding in western Japan

Every sort of natural disaster can be found in Japan, and unfortunately terrible flooding is at the forefront of everyone’s worries.

Flooding in Hiroshima

The rainy season usually means a very wet June, but this year, the season was very short and non-rainy. Ironically, not long after it was declared that the rainy season was over, storms have led to severe flooding in several areas of western Japan, including Hiroshima, Ehime, Osaka, Shiga, Hyogo, Okayama, Yamaguchi and Fukuoka prefectures.

Because Japan is very hilly, landslides are always a danger, and they’ve been the cause of some of the reported deaths (at the time of writing, 62 people have been killed and there are over 100 missing).

Various terrifying pictures can be seen in this Japan Times article, also a source of other coverage in English.

Flooding is severe in some parts of the purple, pink, and orange regions

The beginnings of a smoking ban

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the worst things about Japan is that smoking is allowed in restaurants (among other places). However, local campaigns and, more significantly, worldwide peer pressure with regard to the 2020 Olympics have put into motion some minor progress.

First, national legislation has been proposed that bans smoking in some types of restaurants, but unfortunately there are numerous exemptions. It’s better than nothing, though.

In addition, better rules have just been approved for Tokyo, which are expected to ban smoking in 80% of restaurants. There are still exceptions, but mostly for very small establishments. The rules are for Tokyo only and implementation isn’t required until 2020, but again, it’s a really positive step, and hopefully the trend toward non-stinky-toxic eateries will expand to other areas as well.

More details are in this Japan Times article.


Crow warning

Spotted in a park. My translation:

Crows*: warning!

Caw … don’t approach!

In order to protect their chicks and nests, crows will act threatening.

These are effective ways to protect yourself: umbrella, hat, bag


I certainly don’t need to be told twice. The crows around here are pretty large and those sharply curved beaks are menacing indeed.

*I’m not sure of the difference between crows and ravens, and the word in Japanese seems to be the same for both.

Expensive melon time

Fruit is expensive in Japan year-round, but amazingly pricey melon season has begun!

In the photo, the most expensive watermelon and cantaloupe are 1980 yen, which according to today’s exchange rate, isĀ 23.60 AUD / 23.37 CAD / 17.96 USD.

“Cheap” fruit at the moment mostly seems to be oranges at 158 yen each (that is, for one single orange).

Melon display at the grocery store

A new alert

I wrote previously about the weather and disaster alerts that I receive on my phone. Well, today I woke up to a new one.

The graphic’s meaning wasn’t immediately obviously and I can’t read very well, but the words “missile” and “North Korea” jumped out straight away. The alert is advising people in northern Japan to take cover as missiles have been fired from North Korea. As far as I know, the missiles passed over Japan and landed in the sea. Who knows what will happen next. There’s not much else to say, except that North Korea-related jokes are in poor taste, and it’s all quite scary.

And if anyone is curious, the alert shown for Saturday in my screenshot was for summer smog. Not nearly so worrying!