July 2008

Last weekend after visiting the National Park for Nature Study in Meguro, we went for lunch at a Chinese restaurant near Shirokanedai called Bamiyan. It’s a chain whose principle distinctive feature is a bottomless cup for drinks via a self-service bar. Unfortunately this means that people tend to go in, order something cheap and occupy their seats for long periods. Rather than decide that the free bar is the problem, they apparently decided that it’s these "semi-free"loaders that are the issue and so they make the place very irritating to stay in for long. They do this by playing "music box" muzak constantly. One or two songs is bearable, but after half an hour it gets on the nerves to much that one has to leave. Certainly for me, this is definitely defeats the object as I won’t go to one of these again unless there’s no other choice.

There seems to have been an earthquake in Tokyo just now. Not a particularly strong one. I’m on the fifth floor of a nine story building and ti wibbled and wobbled around a bit but not worrying or anything. When I was here last year there were two or three earthquakes in Japan which were supposed to be possible to sense in Tokyo (well, I was living in Kawasaki actually, but there too) but I must have slept through the very minor tremors that were felt in this area.

It does raise the question, though, about why people move to earthquake and other risk zones (volcanoes etc). If you grew up somewhere, it’s reasonable to stay, I suppose, but it does make me wonder about my own risk perceptions and cost/benefit analyses that I’m willing to move somewhere prone to earthquakes, and pretty major ones at that. Still, I suppose it’s like many other potentially catastrophic events. You can’t let fear rule your life so you judge the risk as relatively low and get on with things. Otherwise you’d never leave your home (and most accidents happen in the home anyway).

Over the past few years I’ve had a relatively painless time with all the travelling I do. Sure, I’ve had my share of delayed flights (usually from Copenhagen into London) but rarely anything more serious. The worst was dropping my keys on a plane and not realising until getting to the car park and returning to the terminal after that airline had closed up shop for the night.

However, this trip to the US and Japan seems to be making up for the good luck I’ve enjoyed over the last couple of years. (more…)

I’m now back in Japan for the summer. I arrived on Air Canada flight 1 (I suppose most airlines have a flight number 1, but I found it odd when I booked the ticket). Unfortunately, not all my luggage arrived with me. The good news is that they’ve found my missing case and it came on the same flight today, and will be delivered tomorrow (Saturday) morning. In further bad news, I broke a tooth on the flight over from Toronto (I came to Japan via a conference in Boston, so have visited Philadelphia, Boston and Toronto on the way to Japan from the UK). I’ll have to claim on the University travel insurance to get it sorted. I’m hoping they don’t have to do an extraction – that wouldn’t be a great way to start a ten week visit. I think there’s maybe enough left to cap it if nothing else. I was four hours delayed getting to Boston initially as well. It’s a good job I really enjoy coming to Japan, otheriwse this trip would be turning out rather depressing. As it is, I’m just happy to be back in Japan. (more…)