Monday, May 25, 2015

Living in an earthquake-prone country

About one month has passed since the latest powerful earthquake in Nepal. The scenes from Nepal look total devastation. It must be an unbelievably tough test of courage and perseverance for Nepalese. Nepal and its people are in my prayers and thoughts.

Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, Japan, of which epicenter was northern Awaji-shima Island showed how devastating when a powerful earthquake hit a large city.  Kobe people were totally unprepared believing big earthquake wouldn't strike Kobe.

Photos are from my latest overnight trip to Awaji-shima Island.
When my husband and I travel together, we tend to invite rain against weather forecast.
The layers of mountains and shore of Shikoku seen from the south of the island.

Source, here
Awaji-shima is linked with Tokushima Pref., Shikoku, by Onaruto Bridge

and is linked with Kobe by Akashi Ohashi Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge.
Main industries are dairy farming  (dairy cattle and beef cow for Kobe Beef), growing flowers...
.... agriculture (rice, onions, lettuce, and other vegetables)...
... fisheries  (sea bream, abalone, turban shell, sand eel, wakame see weed, and “Torafugu”, a kind of globefish, farming)
.... tourism for Naruto Whirlpools, Awaji Puppet Theater Company, natural beauties, and many others.
Southern port of Fukura
Preserved Nojima Fault at Hokutan-cho Earthquake Memorial Park
 shows how the movement in the ground cuts across roads, hedges and other installations.

Many lessons were learned from the Great Hanshin Earthquake. A reassessment of the building regulations for both private residences and public offices as well as transport infrastructure were enforced. The newly built constructions are earthquake proof. The damages to newly constructed buildings would be slight thanks to the latest technology, massive shock absorber or another method which allows the base of a building to move semi-independently to its superstructure, reducing the shaking caused by quakes.  For those trapped, almost all the local governments have blankets and earthquake emergency kits, including dry rations, drinking water, basic medical supplies. At schools, children go through earthquake drills regularly. It’s much better than having air-raid drills, anyway.

It’s almost impossible to perfectly predict and avoid earthquakes but possible to minimize damages if you prepare well and are determined to protect yourself.  So, what will you do when you feel a big tremor?  Go head-first under the table or desk. Most of injuries are from falling objects. The first thing to do is to look to your own safety.  Stay calm and act steadily.

When you’re at home, try to turn off gas just after the quakes calm down. Don’t rush outdoors, but secure the exit in case.  A pair of slippers in the house is a help when you walk in the mess of the rooms.

When you have to go out, bring your emergency provisions with minimum belongings. Don’t use elevators. Pay attention to broken or dangling electric wires and be alert for aftershocks. Stay off from buildings and walls to avoid falling debris like roof tiles, signboards, or broken windowpanes.

These are what to do beforehand: Check your home and improve anti-earthquake measures: Apply plastic films to windowpanes and cupboards to keep broken glass from falling: Don’t place large pieces of furniture in bedrooms or evacuation route: Store emergency provisions such as food, bottled water, for at least a week as well as flashlights, portable radios, a first-aid kit, and so on.

Flowers flow like the Milky Way at Awaji Hanasajiki overlooking the sea and meadows.
Situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", Japan is one of the most seismically active nations. Deadly earthquakes have shuttered the community periodically since the ancient times. I’m not over-worried like many other Japanese people but can’t help but have quiet despair or feel resignation to the will of Nature. My heart aches and is warmed up at the same time to see the people who are fragile in the powerful force of nature but resolute with light within when immersed in the darkness.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Enchanting 藤 Wisteria

The flowers which take center stage of floral landscape of Japan have been changing from Ume of mid-March and Sakura of early April to Fuji of early May.  Fuji, Wisteria in English, is quite popular for its elegant hanging flowers and its vigorous winding vines. 

Fuji is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family.

Fuji has luscious sweetness and beauty.

Supported by the trellis, tamed, pruned and trimmed to keep good shape regularly,
Fuji enchants us with its exquisite elegance from late April to middle of May.

It's joyful to look at the flowers and bask in the various pastel shades cast by the blossoms.

All your senses are comforted by the dripping flowers, flickering sunshine through the leaves,
sound of buzzing bees and water, and balmy breeze.

As you know, Fuji is a playful and ambitious climber by nature.

There are many wild wisteria in the grove of Kasuga Shrine.

Winding and tangled massive vines make sculptural objet in the grove. 

Fuji has amazing vitality, freely sprawling, twining, and climbing everything which stands still in her path.  
As Fuji lives a long life, some vines have crawled on and on both beneath and on the ground, 
which makes her look like an aged long reptile startlingly.
The long tail lasts to the next tree.
Fuji can be a murderer coiling around fragile trees when left alone.
Nonetheless, I like to see her in nature amazed  at her tremendous energy to live.
How high have you climbed?
Fuji adorns a gigantic Camphor Tree.

When Fuji flowers are going to be over, season is changing into early summer.

Below is my favorite mauve-colored Fuji.
Fuji-color in Japanese means mauve in English.

Fuji, she has all the attractive elements of a woman,
beautiful, elegant, vital, and mysterious.

My old post about wisteria, Wisteria and the ancient Fujiwara Clan

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The season of "新緑 Shinryoku"

There is a Japanese word “新緑 Shinryoku” which means "fresh verdure of spring".  
Shinryoku emerges between late March and mid-April to show the fresh green color.
The very young leaves are light in color before becoming bright green soon.

Nara Park, April 9th

The newly born leaves of Japanese Maple are so cute.  
They are translucent light green and make a good contrast to its tiny red flowers.

March 30th
 They start off so small but grow into emerald green young-adults soon.

April 27th
Sprinkled with water of April rain, moss and lichens start shining with a fresh verdure 
while cherry blossoms are falling and fading in colors..

As you see the massive tree trunk and roots above, there are many gigantic trees in Nara Park.
Camphor trees produce bright green foliage with masses of small white flowers, and then shed old leaves.

These children are having lunch embraced in a camphor tree.
They spread their sheets on the fallen leaves in the shade of the tree.

School excursion
Ginkgo tree holds a large lacy parasol with its mighty long and thick arms.
The sun flickers through leaves.

April 27th

While brilliant saffron yellow in autumn is breathtaking,
the glinting tiny young leaves of spring are so refreshing.

I really like the young leaves of Tosa-mizuki (Corylopsis spicata), or Spike winter hazel in English, 
and Hyuga-mizuki (Corylopsis pauciflora), or Buttercup winter hazel.
Both of them produce new leaves right after flowers.
The leaves are ovate with an acute apex and a serrated margin and have distinct sunken veins.
Aren't they charming?

New leaves and fruits/seeds of Tosa-mizuki at the Mt. Rokko


 At this time of Shinryoku, we have Golden Week holidays from April 29th.
Many people spring into mountains, woods, or parks to bathe in greenery
which is good for both mind and body.

The new leaves grow rapidly to hide the view over there 
where we can see through when the trees are bare in winter.
Soon trees will get thick with leaves.

Baby leaves of weeping willows

- This post is linked to Our World Tuesday. -