A Geek in Japan | Various
Adventures of a geek living in Japan
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Sunflower Day – ひまわりの日

Today is Sunflower Day in Japan (Himawari no hi, ひまわりの日). This day has been celebrated since JAXA launched their first meteorological satellite on July 14th 1977. The name of that satellite was “Sunflower number 1″. Since then, during the last 40 years, Japan has launched eight “Sunflower” meteorological satellites to space. The one that is used today to predict the impact of typhoons (like the one that is approaching us this week) is Sunflower number 8.

People usually forget about the origin of the celebration, the important of this day is to have a nice day by being creative using sunflowers. These are some of the images of the day on Twitter:

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan

Sunflower Day in japan
Sunflower number 8 launch at the end of last year

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Tama The Cat Dies

Tama the cat is probably the most famous cat in Japan. So popular that her recent death just after turning 16 years old has been important news in Asahi, one of the most read newspapers here.

Tama was an abandoned cat that used to live around the Kishi station in Wakayama. With the passing of time the neighbors liked her so much that in 2007 they made her the “Station Chief”. The station was remodeled with a cat shape and the trains were decorated with Tama drawings.

Since Tama became the station chief, the amount of travellers has risen and the economy of the area has improved. After her death, probably one of her two assistant cats Miko or Chibi will replace her as the station chief.

tama the cat

tama the cat

tama the cat

tama the cat

tama the cat

tama the cat

tama the cat

Related posts:

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The Great Earthquake

I am at a coffee shop near Ginza. Suddenly a mother and her daughter enter inside. The mother is probably in her late fifties and the daughter is most likely around twenty years old. Both are wearing sport suits and are not very well dressed compared to the rest of people you can usually see around Ginza on Sundays. They sit down and order two coffees. Without saying a word the mother opens up a novel and immerses herself into it, while the daughter starts tapping at her smartphone screen. It doesn’t seem like they have much new to talk about.

After a while, the daughter gets tired of fiddling with her iPhone.

– The couple of earthquakes last week were quite strong – the daughter says leaving her phone on the table.
– Yes, what a shake! Your father’s coffee spilled all over the kitchen table.
– I was at the university taking an exam. Before starting, we had to leave our smartphones in a basket at the entrance – she says while trying to grab her mother’s attention, who closes her book placing it on the table. – Shortly before the building started to shake, the earthquake alarms of the phones started to ring. We all heard our phones in the basket, with the exception of Daisuke’s which rang in his pocket.
– Oh I see, they caught him with his phone during the exam.
– Even when you put your smartphone in silent mode, the earthquake alarm always rings.
– With this system we are more safe. But poor Daisuke, he was caught red-handed.
– The professor forgave him, but he will most likely never be able to sneak in his phone into an exam again – she says while grabbing her smartphone and lowering her glance once again. – The news I am reading on Twitter say that “The Great Earthquake” is coming. There’s a 70% chance that it will happen within the next four years.
– They’ve been saying the same thing for the last 40 years – the mother says without giving it much importance and she comes back to read her novel.

great earthquake

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Cleaning Up The Weeds

They look relaxed, not rushing at all, most likely happier than the salarymen that are trapped in their offices. They are pulling the small weeds that are coming out of the grass in the park, practically one by one. I asked the man that is looking at the camera in the video below: he told me that they do it for free, that they are volunteers and that the grass on this park is solely maintained by the neighbors association.

Cleaning Up The Weeds

Cleaning Up The Weeds

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Ultraman at JR Stations

Today I found this Ultraman statue at Shinbashi station in the Yamanote line. Next to the statue there was a stand where you can get a stamp to certify that you have found the statue. It seems that it is a promotion to collect the Ultraman characters stamps. If you manage to get all the stamps you will be able to have a chance to get several prizes. These kind of marketing promotions are known in Japan as スタンプラリー (Stamp Rally). To participate in them you have to use the official passbook and then collect all the stamps.

Ultraman

Ultraman

Ultraman

Ultraman

Ultraman

Ultraman at JR stations

Ultraman

More information about the stations and the places where you can collect the stamps

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Fox Village

Until today I knew about rabbit island and cat island but I didn’t know about a small village in Miyagi prefecture where there are more than one hundred foxes walking around the streets, parks and temples. I have immediately added the village to the places I should visit in Miyagi.

The following photos were taken by briedis during his last visit to the village. My favourite photo is the one with the Shintoist shrine dedicated to the fox goddess Inari, two stone foxes on the sides and a real fox in the back looking at the camera :)

fox village

fox village

fox village

fox village

fox village

village of the foxes in japan

village of the foxes in japan

village of the foxes in japan

Here you have the exact location in Google Maps. You can find specific information to visit the village at Japan Travel.

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Rabbit Island

Okunoshima is an island similar to Tashirojima, the difference being that instead of being full of cute cats it is invaded by rabbits. According to Treehugger it is an island were chemical weapons were produced during Second World War. Nowadays there’s no industry in the island anymore and there’s not many people living there. There are more rabbits than people! The island has a perimeter of 4 kilometers, one hotel, one camping, one golf course and hundreds of rabbits.

Rabbit island in Japan


Map with the location of rabbit island

Continue reading: Cat Island.

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Street Cleaner Superhero

Mangetsu-man (Full Moon Man) is a superhero that every Tuesday sweeps the streets in the Nihonbashi district in Tokyo. His superpower is a broom and he has been using it on the streets of Tokyo since the end of last year. Other volunteers have recently joined him every Tuesday to clean up Nihonbashi.

Street Cleaner Superhero in Japan

Source: Japan Today

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10 Years in Japan

A day like today ten years ago I landed in Japan for the first time. Two of the questions I am asked the most since then are:

“Why did you come to Japan?” and “Are you going to be in Japan forever?”

The first question is usually asked by Japanese people that feel curious about what is so special about Japan to make somebody from so far away to come live here. The second question is usually asked by Spanish people or other foreigners that are passing by Japan and feel curious about what is keeping me attached to this place.

Arriving to Japan 10 years ago
Record of my arrival to Japan in September 2004

I always struggle answering both questions. To the first one I answer saying that since I was a kid I was attracted to the idea of visiting Japan, I had always wanted to know the country that produced all the manga and technology that invaded our houses in the 80s and 90s. But, as a matter of fact, coming to Japan wasn’t really a conscious decision. I just received a scholarship to come to Japan and ended up here in Tokyo. If I had been granted a scholarship to go to the United States instead of Japan maybe now I would be writing something similar but with the title “10 Years in United States”.

Would my life be very different if I had lived for 10 years in another place? I don’t believe so. I think the location is a factor, but not the most important one. There are other factors that determine more strongly who we are and how we are. What I want to keep from the last 10 years is not how special is this city called Tokyo, it’s the people that I have around me, the experiences that I have gone through with them and what I have learned and created with them.

Other people say that the most important thing is “to be in the right place at the right moment”. I agree, but this statement is only said by those that were lucky enough to succeed or those who spend their lives in a continuous search to “be successful”. Tokyo was the right place for an engineer or foreigner in the 80s but right now there are much better places if you want to maximize your probabilities of “being successful”.

From the Japanese people I have learned to be more respectful and polite. To be more hard working and more patient, to be extremely punctual, to be more aware of the details, to be able to understand better a social situation without verbal communication. To be persistent, to better appreciate works of art that are apparently “simple”, to enjoy the food and get to know new flavors, to give priority to the harmony of a group of people before creating a conflict, to see the passing of time as something transitory reminding myself that the most important at each moment is the “now”.

With the second question “Are you going to be in Japan forever?” I struggle even more to give an answer. I usually answer with other questions: “For you, what does it mean “forever”?” or “I don’t know if I will be here forever but, do you think you will live in Madrid/London/New York forever?”. I don’t think I will live in Japan forever, in fact I doubt that I will write a post “20 Years in Japan”. Maybe I am wrong and I will be here in 2024 :) However I struggle planning my life more than an horizon of 6 months ahead, so I just never worry about it.

The only thing that I know for sure is that I am going to stick to my passion of learning and discovering. If this passion takes me to one or another place it will be ok, if not I will still be in my beloved Tokyo. Another thing that I will be doing in 10 years will be writing here. Through this blog I have been able to meet very interesting people and more than half of the friends that I have here in Tokyo came to my life directly or indirectly from this small place on the Internet.

Wherever you are right now, thanks a lot for sharing the ride and following this adventure with me!

higgs field at CERN
Photo from 10 years ago. In a “Higgs Field” at CERN in Switzerland wearing a Japanese t-shirt.

CERN in Japan
Recent photo. In a “Rice Field” wearing a CERN t-shirt of a simulation of the discovery of the “Higgs Field”.

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