Halloween in Kawasaki - The 15th Annual Parade

The Japanese can truthfully boast that Kawasaki hosts the best Public Halloween Party in Asia.  Many European and North American Cities would do well to take a page out of their Event Plan.  It was simply Excellent.
The Party revolves around Best Costume Contests and Parades.  Entries are limited and online bookings reach cut off limits in just a few days.  Judging and Parades begin near the Italian Village of La Cittadella and near Kawasaki Station.  Costumed Participants follow floats equipped with great sound systems, Professional DJ’s and Cheer Leaders that act more like aerobics instructors as ghosts, zombies, pirates and other frightening or fun creatures jump, dance and slide along.  Three thousand people participated in the Parade and 100,000 watched and encouraged the event.  The Parade marches from 14:00 to 16:00 and the dancing doesn’t stop.

The Parade takes about an hour to organize before departure and is a fine opportunity for photos.  Most contestants were more than happy to model or join group shots.  The Event’s atmosphere was friendly, fun and safe.  Some young children were terrified as costumes are very well done.  (Some of the zombie brides had me cringing.)  This year we observed some impressive Captain Jack Sparrows and his female counterpart, a gorgeous Marie Antoinette, a heard of the Ghostly “Sadako” from the Japanese Horror the “Ring”, and a lovely Coven of Young Witches. (They posed with the little witch that we brought to the Event.)

We took advantage of one of the many Pizza/Spaghetti Restaurants located at the La Cittadella Village for lunch.  We were fortunate to not wait longer than five minutes.  The combination of a nice lunch surrounded by vampires and sexy police women didn’t bother my colleagues.  While enjoying our Margarita Pizza and Chianti we vowed to return in 2012  as a group coordinated in costume.  We’ll be first to hit the Event Website when entries open.  Join us next year - Happy Halloween.

Kawasaki Halloween 2011         http://lacittadella.co.jp/halloween/english.html


Matsuri and The Children’s Omikoshi

The October Village Festival in our neighborhood takes place later in the year than most festivals in Tokyo and Kawasaki.  As with most other Japanese Festivals the people celebrate the task of transporting the “OMikoshi” around the community.  The “Mikoshi” or Divine Palanquin is a vehicle for transport of Deities and the movement of the “Mikoshi” Annually is essential to the practice of the Shinto Religion.   It is in many ways the glue the binds a Community and an opportunity to contribute and be recognized. 

This year our family’s participation fell literally on the shoulders of our 9 Year Old Daughter.  She dawned a Blue Happi Coat & joined a group of 50 Children to carry the OMikoshi around four City Blocks.  The endeavor lasted about one hour inclusive of a 20 minute recess for traditional Japanese treats and juice.  The break was sponsored by both the local Sake Store and Soba Noodle Shop.   Upon return to Community Square the children had the opportunity to participate in carnival games, purchase chocolate bananas and yaki tori.  (The local children’s club run the retail booths and profits are well used.)   

Members of the Community contribute donations to the Festival Organization and are recognized by signs posted on street placards.  This is an effective advertisement as I was thanked for my modest donation at least half a dozen times by members of the neighborhood.  Several of the local leadership asked if I’d be interested in joining the group carrying the Main Omikoshi next year.  We’ll see.  (It might be unavoidable.)

Trattoria ETERNITA in Futako-Tamagawa

The Trattoria Eternita is a quaint restaurant with a friendly atmosphere and a first rate product. It’s conveniently located within 5 minutes walking distance of Futakotamagawa Station. You’ll need to watch carefully for the Italian Flag and Street Sign Board by the entrance on your first visit. You enter the restaurant by descending one flight below street level.

Maestro Igarashi will be more than happy to assist you with menu choices and wine selections. The kitchen is especially good with antipastos and meats. The Set Menus are reasonable offering antipastos, salad, a main course and dessert.
Our favorites are the Vegetable Antipastos, Penne Arrabbiata and Grilled Lamb. The Teramisu complimented with an Expresso never disappoints. We recommend calling in a reservation as the Trattoria is always full on Weekends.

Trattoria ETERNITA



The Hakodate Marathon: a Great Reason for a Canadian to Visit Southern Hokkaido

Last Spring we visited my wife’s 94 Year Old Grandmother in Hakodate.  Impressed by the beautiful scenery inclusive of Hakodate Mountain and its famous Million Dollar Night View, the Water Front, interesting shops and fresh seafood we promised to return.  My wife and her relatives in Hakodate decided that it would be especially worthwhile if I entered into the Hakodate Half Marathon.  The Window for entries opens and closes full with 3000 runners in less than a week.  We applied on line on the first possible day and were fortunate to be accepted.
My wife’s Uncle kindly picked up the Race Entry Package before meeting us at Hakodate Airport on the Saturday before the Race. (Hakodate is only a 90 minute flight from the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo.)  This gesture was appreciated as flights booked quickly and we only managed a 17:00 arrival.  The package included a nice program listing all 3000 runners, race numbers with timing chip, and a rain jacket with the Marathon Logo.  (I wore this to the race but morning temperatures were warm enough to warrant short sleeves & we didn’t witness anyone else wearing the give-away the morning of the race. (As if I didn’t already stand out.)

It wasn’t difficult to pick me out of the crowd lining up at Hakodate Stadium. Few runners at the Hakodate Event weighed near my 98 Kilograms nor did they exceed 185 cm in height.  Most Japanese Runners observed the Local Race Rules. (It seemed strange to me that no one else listened to their iPod during the run.) My Wife informed me after the 2 hour stride by the Sea that listening to recording devices was prohibited. 
They also disallowed any other costume than standard running gear.  (We were gratified to witness one A Class Runner dressed in a black cocktail dress and Marilyn Monroe Wig.)  Humor is not lost on everyone at the Hakodate Marathon. 
Most Race Volunteers were helpful, friendlyand water stations were large and strategically located throughout the race.  A nice finishing certificate was offered immediately upon return of the Race Time Chip.  The Hokkaido Newspaper also published race results right down to the final finisher. 

We peppered our short stay in Hakodate with two nice Restaurant Experiences.  The first, a Spanish Tapas Restaurant called the Casa de Norte.  The food was Excellent and service Suspect.  We tried to order dishes made from local seafood and found items made with squid & octopus especially tasty. 

The second venue was a traditional Sukiyaki House with 100 Years of history.  The Asari began as a Beef Distribution Company and evolved into one of the best Sukiyaki Restaurants in Hokkaido.  We were especially pleased to find a 2002 Beringer Knights Valley (Alluvium) on the Menu at a reasonable price. It complimented the Marbled Kyushu Grown Beef perfectly. 

 The Establishment remains a Family Business and traditional customs continue to be observed.  We were seated at a low table placed on tatami mats and the Sukiyaki was prepared in front of us.  I’m not fond of this seating arrangement even without the pre-exhaust from a 22 Kilometer Run.  The beef was great.  The Experience was Painful.

The La Vista Hotel located in Hakodate Bay was a perfect choice for a short weekend stay.  Their Inclusive Breakfast is a full assortment of local seafood served in Buffet Fashion.  Salmon, corn on the cob, fresh potatoes and other fish are cooked over coals and served hot.  Sashima prepared from local catches is offered with rice and proper Japanese Condiments. It was the main choice of most guests we observed in the Buffet Line Up. Common Western Style Breakfast items were also offered. 

The 13th Floor Spa with open air baths and massage services was worth the Hotels’ Price of Admission. In Late Evening it was especially enjoyable to relax in the individual sized tubs and take in the lighted view of Hakodate.  The La Vista is designed to service Japanese Guests.   Travelers without some Japanese Language capability should be intrepid and patient should they elect to stay for a night or two.  We encourage you to try the La Vista and the City of Hakodate on for size.

(Inside Hotel  La Vista Hakodate Bay

Asari (Sukiyaki) http://r.tabelog.com/hokkaido/A0105/A010501/1003362/ (Access Japanese only)


Les Cristallines (Cuisine Francaise) in Omote Sando: A Can’t Miss for an Impressive Lunch

One of the best value options for Fine Dining is the Lunch Set offered by most Restaurants in Tokyo.  The Les Cristallines located within a ten minute walk from Omote Sando Station defines the opportunity for friends to enjoy Exceptional Cuisine Francaise,  Professional Service and a Cozy Atmosphere.    

Our Set Lunch included a delicious plate of hor d'oeuvres made up of Duck Pate, Salmon Mousse,  Quiche Lorraine, Potato Salad, Carrot Salad and Olives.  This was followed by a lightly spiced Pumpkin Soup served chilled .  

Les Cristallines offers several options for a Main Course and three choices dominated our Groups selection.  This included a sautéed “Suzuki” (Sea Bass) served on a bed of mashed potatoes and enhanced with an “American” Sauce.  Two other popular choices were the Australian Beef Steak and a Sausage prepared and served in a fine Pastry.

   Everything was presented carefully and served in an impressively timely fashion.  Chocolate Dessert Fans will leave Les Critallines satisfied.  The Choux a la Crème Patissiere au Chocolat will knock your socks off.  The entire set inclusive of consumer tax rounded out under 2000 Yen.
The Wine Selection was more than adequate and Maitre D’Hotel Bauer Jean-Luc suggested affordable options that worked nicely with our choices from the Menu. 

His personal interest in maximizing our lunch experience was most appreciated.  (He encouraged me to focus more on my Suzuki and less on Dialog “to enjoy the Main Course Selection while it was Hot”.)  A nice selection of cheese served with Raison Toast is not normally available at lunch but Jean-Luc made this happen upon our request.

We hope that most groups visiting Les Cristallines enjoy it as much as Steven Quaiver  & his 6 “Old Boys”.  You can reserve a table in the semi-private room at the rear of the Restaurant . We can attest that it is suitable for a lengthy lunch peppered with conversation and loud Camaraderie. 

Les Cristallines              http://r.gnavi.co.jp/p241300/map/ (access – Japanese only)


Nirvana Restaurant: a Very Nice Surprise for Lunch near Yokosuka Chuo Station

We love dining at Indian Restaurants as a Family but few are standouts worthy of recommendation.  This changed today.  We reserved a table & visited the Nirvana Indian Nepali Restaurant across from the Seiyu Department Store near Yokosuka Chuo Station. 

It’s your Classic, No Thrill, Family Owned Ethnic Restaurant that every diner likes to discover & record in their personal book of “go to places”.  Prices were very reasonable even in consideration of the high powered yen.  The Nirvana “C Lunch” Set is inclusive of soft drinks or tea, two curries, Nan, Tandori Chicken, rice, samosa, coleslaw salad & a Yogurt Fruit Dessert ( 1150 Yen).   A small draft “lunch” beer is 250 Yen & a larger pint sells for 350 Yen.

Our orders were taken and served in a timely and friendly manner.  The Tandori Chicken was especially good; juicy and properly spiced.  Curries can be specifically ordered mild to blast furnace chili hot levels and every order met expectations.  My in-laws lived and worked in Calcutta for five years and they expressed sincere appreciation for the “Healthy Curry” made with spinach, asparagus and Okinawan “Goya”or bitter melon.  The mutton/ eggplant curry was a favorite and the Special of the Day was a chicken/bamboo shoot combination that everyone enjoyed.

Nepal is the Home of the British Military Brigade of Gurkhas.  The famous Regiment known for bravery and their ever present heavy “Kukris” Knife.  One was gifted to the Owner of the Nirvana Restaurant by his cousin and is on display.  We were gratified that this Nepalese Family chose business and cultural education with their tasty cuisine over the rigors of the military.  Ironically, they serve hundreds of servicemen as the Nirvana has been no secret to Yokosuka Naval Base since opening three years ago.  Bollywood Fans will enjoy the movies played thru lunch and the Nepal Tourist Posters present all over the Restaurant are attractive if not informative.

Nirvana Indian Nepali Restaurant              http://www.nirvanafood.com/ (English)


Phuket Thailand: Two Excellent Restaurant Choices in the “Rock Fish” and “Da Maurizio Bar Ristorante”

A Local Phuket Real Estate Agent met in the Hotel Pool pointed us in the direction of two Great Restaurant Options.  Both had Excellent Food, Quality Service and Sensational Views. We were also encouraged  to arrive in time to enjoy the Gorgeous Sun Sets before the atmosphere changed to Evening Dining.  (We made reservations to insure premium table locations at both locations.)

The Rock Fish Restaurant is located at The Southern End of Kamala Beach, Phuket near the Marriott Vacation Club.                        

Cuisine served is best described as “Asian Fusion” and their kitchen matched some of the better Fusion Restaurants we’ve visited in Tokyo and California.    The Rock Fish has a marvelous view of the surrounding  Mountains and the Andaman Sea.  The Total Package is  an impressive Restaurant Concept.

Some of our favorites came from the “Starters” Menu including:

 -Scallops wrapped in proscuitto, warm asparagus salad with rose apple puree ,

-The Crisp Calamari with a tomato, cucumber & basil salad, roast garlic mayo

- The Roast Duck & crisp vegetable wrapped in rice paper, lime & soya sauce

Memorable Main Courses included:

- Tuna marinated with chili paste, Thai herb salad, white prawn, coconut juice & tzaziki sauce

-The 5 Spiced Pork Loin, local crackling, roast potatoes, garden vegetables 500 apple puree & chili plum dressing      

We were very pleased with the Ridge California Lytton Springs 2008 Blend of 74% zinfandel, 21% petite sirah, and 5% carignane.  The Rock Fish offered this Vintage as their August Wine Special at a reasonable price.

The Da Maurizio Bar Ristorante is located on Kalim Beach Road, Patong, Phuket.

 It is The Choice for Italian Food and Fine Dining in Phuket.  The Da Maurizio serves Classic Italian Food and most of the featured dishes are made from Chef Maurizio’s Family Recipes. (He brought his 83 Year Old Mother to Thailand to train the staff prior to the Restaurants opening.)  Watching the Sun Down from our Table was one of our trips highlights.  We recommend watching the sun slowly sink over the horizon from the bar as an option to dinner.

The Da Maurizio has an impressive Wine Cellar.  The menu includes a comprehensive selection of Italian, Chile, Australia and American Wines.  We tried the  Organic Splash Cabernet from Yarra Valley, Australia.  We found it balanced and it complimented the courses ordered.

At Da Maurizio you can not make a mistake by selecting Fresh Seafood from the Daily Options.  This was complimented very well by fresh pasta dishes that are the Restaurant’s Trade Mark.  Some of our favorites were:

-Pesce al Cartoccio (Grouper cooked in Parchment)

-Vermicelli con Zucchine e Gamberi  (Vermicelli with Zucchini and Shrimp)

-Phuket Lobster with Pasta Primavera (Pasta with Spring Vegetables)

-For Dessert the Tiramisu served in a Tall Wine Glass

Be sure to ask for a copy of the Maurizio’s Familiy Recipe Book.  We were given a Souvenir Copy and will make good use of it.

The Rock Fish Restaurant   http://www.rockfishrestaurant.com/rest.html
The Da Maurizio Bar Ristorante http://www.baanrimpa.com/italian-restaurant/


Hakodate: Hokkaido’s answer to Cape Town (5 Reasons to Visit Hakodate)

After several business trips to Hakodate we finally took time to visit the City as a tourist.  Once a Native Ainu Fishing Village; the Port City located in the Center of the Kameda Peninsula of Southern Hokkaido now hosts a population near 300,000. Here are five reasons to spend a day in a Beautiful Japanese City.
-1-Mountain Cable Car Ride to the Top of Mount Hakodate:  We timed our trip up Mount Hakodate by Cable Car to enjoy Sun Set and the Hakodate “Million Dollar View”.  This event was reminiscent of our Cable Ride to the Top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.  The view of Hakodate at Night when the City Lights Up is truly spectacular.  (Real impact on the “WoW” Scale.)

Hakodate Ropeway                      http://www.334.co.jp/eng/

-2-Squid Tourism:  The local fish markets have Tanks full of live “Ika” to catch followed by a professional fillet  for a quick snack.  This was fun for our 8 Year Old Daughter and an Excellent Photo Opportunity.  The Squid Sashima was Not Good.  The poor creatures are stressed and the Sashimi was unusually chewy and sour.  A Self Respecting  “Izakaya” would not serve them to customers.  The Many Open Fish Market Stalls displaying and selling iced Sea Urchin, Crab and Local Catches of Fish makes for an interesting morning walk.

Hakodate Asaichi (Morning Market)    http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5353.html

-3-Visiting OBaasan:  My wife’s Grandmother is 92 Years Old.  We visited her at her Suburban Retirement Home.  I signed in and introduced myself as “Sean Connery”.  It didn’t make the impact I hoped but OBaasan did give me some advice on how best to look after her “youngest granddaughter”. (Watching the reunion with her Great Granddaughter was priceless.)

-4-Teddy Bear Museum:  Hundreds of Japanese Celebrities donated Teddy Bears to the Museum in an effort to raise funds and awareness for “Land Mine Clearance”.  The displays take up 4 floors and were unexpectedly entertaining.  The Museum is located within walking distance of the “Akarenga” or Red Warehouse District that everyone enjoys. (Boutiques, Restaurants, Cafes, Gift Shops.)

Hakodate Nishihatoba Museum (Japanese Only

-5-Hakodate Half Marathon September 25th:  We’re signed up for this Event and expect it to be a Terrific Run.  Time to get back to training as there will be relatives waiting to see me finish under the maximum race time allowance.


Rak Thai in Shinagawa - the Real Taste of Bangkok

Authentic Thai Food and Excellent Service is found at Rak Thai in Shinagawa.  Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is reminiscent of Bangkok.  We’ve visited Rak Thai on a Wednesday Night and were gratified for calling ahead. (We walked passed a line up to our reserved table.)  The restaurant was half full on our second visit last Saturday at lunch time without the competition of the business crowd.  We were fortunate to be joined by culinary expert Brian Konar (Original Cakerie) who agreed with the choice of venue.

All items ordered were delicious and everything was devoured by our Party.  We especially enjoyed the Green Curry with chicken (kaeng khiao wan), Pan Fried Noodles with shrimp  (pat tai gung sot) , Sliced Pork with black pepper (moo pat prik thai dam) and Thai Spring Rolls (pop-piah).

Location:  you won’t find the restaurant without directions or a map.  It’s a slow ten minute walk from the Takanawa Exit of Shinagawa Station and is located at basement level.  Once you find Rak Thai, you’ll find the waiters and kitchen staff ready to serve dishes spiced as directed.  Menus were enhanced by photos and were available in English, Japanese and Thai.  (Waiters handled English well.)

Rak Thai’s current special is a rebate of one can of Singha Beer for every 3 ordered.  Where was this restaurant when we were in College?

Rak Thai Shinagawa GP Shop   http://www.rakthai.jp/shinagawa/index.html
Original Cakerie                                        http://www.cakerie.com/


Enjoying the Elementary School Sports Festival; a Survival Plan for Expatriate Fathers in Japan

Fifteen years ago I attended the Miyazakidai Kindergarten Sports Festival to watch my blonde haired daughter run, dance and even joined her in a puzzle completion relay.  Another surprise came when the PTA drafted me to a Relay Team of Parents & Teachers to relive Youthful Memories by “leaving it all on the track”.  Fathers slid, fell, tumbled and eventually completed the race but far less gracefully than the young teachers who glided around the track. 
“Déjà vu all over again.”  Last Sunday we awoke early to eat breakfast in preparation for the local Elementary School’s Sports Festival.  My 8 year old daughter donned her PE uniform and stylishly wove her red scarf into her hair signifying her as an official member of the Aka (Red) Gumi Team.  My Father- in-Law departed first with a Ground Sheet and Golf Umbrella to mark territory near the Red Team Section. This assured  us of plenty of space for our Family Picnic Lunch at intermission.  The School Sports Festival is a Major Community Event in Japan.  Years of tradition, serious preparation and real enthusiasm make for an Excellent Family Day.  It might be considered a microcosm of Japanese Society  worthy of consideration for anyone living or doing business in Japan.  Following are a few observations of the Inada Elementary School Sports Festival common to Public Schools from Hokkaido to Okinawa:
-Preparation:  the School Administration, Teachers and PTA start practices 3 weeks prior to the Event.  It shows! Events run like clockwork with rare delays (if any).  We started at 9 a.m. as promised and finished at 3 p.m. as recorded in the program.  (An achievement credited to the practice of “hurry up and wait”.  Children arrive at school before 8:15 a.m. for the 9 a.m. start and line up for events well before scheduled times.)
-Team Spirit:  the School is divided into four teams marked by colors Red, Green, Gold and Blue.  Each Team has a fight song, wears colored head bands (young children have one sewn to their school PE Cap), execute rehearsed cheers (screams), bang drums, and  wave flags.  The Oendan (Cheer Masters) and Team Captains wear a Cape matching Team Colors. How ultimately cool for a Grade 6 boy or girl?

-Everyone Runs: Grade 1& 2 run a 50 meter sprint,  Grade 3 & 4 run 100 meters and the Seniors in 5 & 6 run the full 200 meter loop.  Points are awarded for first to sixth place finishes and are tallied to decide the Winner of the Annual Sports Festival Cup.  This year the children were handicapped according to practice times and heats mixed with boys and girls were competitive & often Exciting.
-Creative Relays: the School Coordinates Dozens of  various Teams Races using Giant Balls, tricycles, long sticks, short sticks, elevated baskets and building blocks. They are all engineered to challenge appropriate to age group.  My favorite was the 1st Grader’s  Contest where hundreds of children simply throw balls simultaneously at elevated baskets.  When the buzzer sounds finishing the event, the crowd counts as the 4 baskets are emptied. (The Red Team ultimately won by One (Red) Tennis Ball.
-Traditional Western Events: Grade 3 Children competed in “tsunahiki” (Tug of War) as did selected members of the PTA .  Competitive Parents are loaned  garden gloves  a week prior to the festival.  My daughters’ team won all their challenges and they cheered and celebrated like Olympic Champions.  (My Team of intrepid parents were eliminated quickly & we walked off the field with heads hanging low.)  The Sports Festival wouldn’t be complete without Classical Running Relays.  At Inada Elementary School they include as many children as possible. The first three grades are represented with a team of 20 and grade 4 thru 6 assemble a  team of 10 students.  Several close finishes brought the crowd to their feet. (It reminded me of a horse race.)

-Music:  my hat goes off to the director of music for the festival.  They played a sensational selection of Classics, Movie Sound Tracks and Japanese Pops that nicely backed up each event.  The Theme from the Titanic was appropriate to our PTA Tug of War Effort. (Nice)
-Family Picnic:  After devouring my Obento (Japanese Lunch Box) including tasty sautéed pork, deep fried shrimp, white rice and spicy chicken I scanned the Campus.  Every spare meter surrounding the School Field was covered by blankets and ground sheets.  Extended families  (lots of Grandparents) were enjoying their lunch. This part of the event was simply Great.  (I wonder what people thought while I ate the Japanese Lunch and my brown eyed daughter born in Kyushu dined on Ham Sandwiches.)
-Speeches:  “Ganbaree Nihon”:  (Fight on Japan.)  Children made speeches, Parents used the microphone, Teachers & Administration offered their advice. It was all about “giving their best shot” and “finishing with the feeling that they’d done their Best” and Why not?  The children worked hard and showed great spirit.  They cheered each other on and suffered the “agony of defeat”.  It was a roller coaster of energetic emotion and everyone finished smiling. 
Caveat:  Bring sun block as the late May Japanese Sun can fry you.  (They’re calling me Mr. Red Legs.)


Cherry Blossoms in Shukugawara; Hanami & Business as Usual

Yes there’s radioactive iodine traces in the water supplied by the Ikuta Water Plant 3 Kilometers from our house. This is especially true after it rains. (My wife orders water on line & the prices of close to $4 for a 2L bottle are killing me. I’m ready to take my chances with the tap water.) Scheduled “Brownouts” are a concern but have been limited around our place compared to areas such as Fujisawa where electrical shut downs are scheduled for twice a day when summer heat and humidity reach air conditioning necessary levels. Subway and Elevated Trains run with inner lights switched off, hand driers in rest rooms are disconnected and the Giant TV Screen at the famous Shibuya Crossing remains dark. With this said, you might be surprised that the mood in Tokyo is somewhat peaceful and people are approaching life and business in the usual fashion.

Spring arrived and was celebrated traditionally with “Hanami” (flower viewing) Parties under the Cherry Blossoms. The area known as Shukugawara is a Cherry Blossom Party Destination. The trees lining the Nikaryo-yosui stream walkway that feeds the larger Tamagawa River bloom and for two weeks the river walk is truly spectacular. You’ll witness groups of friends gathering in front of the Nambu Lines’ Shukugawara Square preparing to walk to a prime Hanami Location. Once a vacant patch of grass is located, the group spread ground sheets and break out picnics. Every available millimeter is taken up by enthusiastic people eager to celebrate spring and enjoy the camaraderie of friends and colleagues.

Hanami usually involves early Spring weather far too cold for my liking. This year’s bloom came later than usual and afternoon temperatures allowed People to enjoy Hanami in short sleeve shirts. For the thousands spending the day in intimate groups or with large parties organized by companies and clubs it was another Celebration of Spring. Like any other year we move from Winter to Spring and life goes on. My family’s walk by the trees on Sunday, April 10th was inspiring. Safe water and electricity were once a given in Kawasaki and that has changed, but the Cherry Blossoms are forever reliable.

The Governor of Tokyo, Mr. Shintaro Ishihara was just re-elected for a 4th Term. He’s published stern direction for people of Japan to practice “Jishiku” (self restraint) in honor of the people suffering in the North. Mr. Ishihara also claimed that the March 11th (Japan’s 311) Earthquake was divine punishment for “Japanese Egotism and Populism”. “No pachinko, no vending machines and restrain from the drinking and revelry associated with Hanami.” I’ve observed the Japanese People throughout the crisis acting in the classy manner that’s brought world wide respect for the Japanese Society. Some might consider Mr. Ishihara’s “edicts” a road to “Ishuku” (retreat/atrophy) in a time when the Japanese Economy most needs stimulation. My family will keep the lights down low Mr. Ishihara, but please, please, don’t resent our Hanami. It only comes once a year.

Kyodo News 'Traces of radioatice iodine found in tap water in Tokyo'


Financial Times 'Post-disaster thriftiness is a receipe for recession'