Friday, August 28, 2009

The Best Show in Town

No summer is complete without a good fireworks show. Japan has some of the best I've seen. And Kawasaki has outdone itself year after year. This past weekend our family went to see the show near the Tamagawa river, a mere half-mile from us. We weren't disappointed. The Chinese are said to have invented fireworks, but it might be argued that the Japanese have perfected them. Coordinating the fireworks display with the beat of music was impressive. Most impressive, however, is the sheer size of the fireworks, and their close proximity to ground level.

I always come away with a better sense of the music that has shaped this culture. The "Sukiyaki" song was part of the show, but many more Japanese favorites had the audience of around 600,000 singing and clapping. Yes, I said 600,000. Believe me, it felt like more. I also always come away with a very sore neck trying to take in both fireworks shows. I've written here before about seeing only half the show. This year was the same. But what a great treat to end the summer with!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rock 'n Roll with the Beetles

Three days, two earthquakes, and one typhoon and tsunami. We've been watching as Tokyo has gotten drenched the last couple days under a barrage of rain and heavy wind pushed ahead of typhoon #6. It's been impressive weather! The usual resulting mudslides have left a lot of people with some major cleanup south of Tokyo. Imagine your house with a foot deep of mud in it!

As if that weren't enough to contend with, this morning a 6.6 magnitude quake struck the Tokyo region. It shook us out of bed, quite literally, around 5am. As is my usual custom, I ran to the TV to see where it was centered and how strong it was in that area. A 2 foot tsunami was also reported to be headed toward the Shizuoka area south of us. Although a hundred people were hurt, no one lost their life. The typhoon was much more deadly, with several dozen killed from the mudslides or swept away in the flash flooding.

Meanwhile the beetles continue to sing, the Japanese beetles (cicadas), that is. The hot steamy weather this time of year seems to be a source of nonstop celebration for them. They provide the background music everywhere you go, every hour of the day (and night). In a week or two they will begin dying, but for now the literally millions of them in our neighborhood make quite a sound! Walking outdoors at night, I've had many fly into me. This is always startles me a bit as they are large bugs and make a pretty big impact. Take a look at the video here to get an idea of what they sound like together.