Sunday, March 20, 2005


This morning a 7.0 earthquake struck just off Northern Kyushu near Fukuoka (about 110 km north of Kumamoto). It was a little bigger than the 6.8 quake that hit Niigata prefecture in October and slightly smaller than the 7.3 quake that hit Kobe in 1995 and killed 6,433 people.

In Kumamoto it was a bit scary and lasted for about 30 or 40 seconds. Here it was of magnitude 4 whereas in Fukuoka it was a magnitude 6. We were at church at the time and the fish tank was sloshing back and forth and pictures shaking but not falling off the walls. Everyone kind of froze, Eden and I weren't sure if we should run for the doorway, get under a table or what. Fortunately only one person was killed and 386 have been injured in something that could've been much worse. In Niigata 39 people were killed and 46,000 people were/are living in emergency shelters from the October earthquakes.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Snowing during our decent from Tawarayama in Nishihara town, Kumamoto.

Shine gate omikuji (written oracle/charm)

What passes for a 2 lane road in Japan.

Tengu-mine of Neko-dake seen from the eastern peak.

The Eden dance. (She thinks it looks like she's climbing the peak in the background)

Hifurishinji of the Aso fire festival.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Pop culture bubble

The last 2.5 years we've been living under a stone and know very little of what's happening at home. BUT we know all about Howl's Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城) and Orange Range. We read the news daily at but haven't sought out new music, TV or trends. Because of this, we first heard about the Atkins diet from Jeff and Karla when we visited them in Saipan and Tinian last June (2004!). At the time we didn't know why Subway had all these Atkins friendly wraps as it had been over a year since we had eaten at a Subway (in Kyoto station). I think we've stayed up with TV, renting 24 episodes and downloading Scrubs, Simpsons and 70's show but I only just heard about the O.C. and Lost last week.

The biggest gap and perhaps the most shocking for us is how little new music we know. Looking at the CDs we have, most are early-mid to late 90's. (Which will one day be looked on as the Golden Age of Alt-Rock). I've tried a bit to get songs from Kazaa but lots of the files tend to be corrupted and I just don't know what to get. That's what makes radio so nice. But we have listened to 99.3 the FOX on the computer.

So about two years ago my good friend Mike told me about Jack Johnson and I downloaded Flake and two other songs. I liked the music but left it at that. Fast forward to Saturday, February 26th. We're at Parco in Kumamoto City and I'm reading the information board about upcoming concerts. Most of the bands are Japanese, but two caught my eye, Simple Plan and Jack Johnson. I know Simple Plan are Canadian but that's about it, and I knew the name Jack Johnson but couldn't place what he sung. The note on the Jack Johnson sign said, "On sale from today" Hmm... maybe I'll have to look him up when I go home. Monday I end up back downtown after school and I decide to stop into Tower Records. See this yellow CD with the silhouette of a tree at number one in the US AND Japan. Surprised that this CD unseated Ayumi Hamasaki and Orange Range. Look at the CD, pick it up, read the tracks but don't bother to give it a listen. Tuesday night decide to visit the Jack Johnson website, download two new songs and decide that yeah, it would be nice to see him in Fukuoka. Wednesday morning stop at a convenience store to buy tickets on the way to school but the machine tells me the Fukuoka show is all sold out, tickets still available for Hiroshima, Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo. Grrr...

Anyway, decide to go back to Tower Records after school and give the CD a listen. Get hooked on the first few tracks and decide to buy the CD/DVD combo. Wednesday night listen through the CD a few times and really wish I had given him a listen a few days earlier. Go back to the Jack Johnson website and see that he's playing in Burnaby (Vancouver) August 14 and Toronto on September 17, tickets not on sale yet but $25 cheaper than Japan. Cheer up a bit.

Currently listening to: Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams
Eden is reading: Sick Puppy
Josh is reading: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami