Japan: Running It Off

In the hotel gym is a treadmill whose screen counts off the calories in terms of food items – takes a while to run off a beer, but a tuna sushi is burned in no time.  A little disheartening that after more than half an hour’s run, I seem barely to have accounted for last night’s meal.

Everyday there is a bit of aftershock – today right at the end of class – always completely unannounced and unexpected, but always mild and almost pleasant in an odd way.  I don’t know how I would feel if a big one comes, but these little ones just seem like the earth giggling.

Gradually you get used to these things.  I felt confined when I first arrived, especially when it was raining, as rain brings down the radiation, but with sunshine and a fresh south wind, walking abroad is irresistible.  Tokyo, like New York or London, is endlessly variable and interesting.

A few cherry blossoms were hanging on, waiting for me as it were, but yesterday’s wind has swirled them into beguiling piles of petals on the sidewalks.  Still, at night the city seems gloomier without the lights, the red winking bulbs on the tallest building are like warnings, or blinking Buddha eyes.

Daichi is still a long-term disaster (for the entire world, not just Japan), and here the fishing industry may have taken a terminal blow, and industry is in for a rough ride for sure.  The hotel, in other years bustling with every nationality, is nearly deserted. The Japanese are resilient, efficient, and community-minded, but we see the long weave of their post-war economy fraying and coming unraveled.  None of the rest of us are far behind.


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