Thursday, July 10, 2014


June 2, 2014

After our short stay in Matsumoto, we were on our way to Kanazawa, close to the Sea of Japan and well know for sushi and sashimi. The train along the eastern edge of the Northern Japanese Alps was a beautiful ride. At one point, we were on a small one car train going through the countryside and into tunnels of foliage. 

Once we arrived in Kanazawa, it was hot and humid. Quite the change from the lovely mountain air we were in mere days before. It was a quick walk to the hostel where we dropped our things, got some tips from the hostel owner, and were on our way for some food and sights. The first stop was the Omichi market, a well known fish market. The market was in a covered shopping area, as many shopping areas are in Japan, with stalls of just about every piece of seafood you can imagine. Cuts of colorful fish, live shrimp, dead shrimp, large sea snails, eel, clams, and more. There were other vendors with veggies, other meats, pickles (a staple of japanese diet), and noodles. It was pretty chaotic and smelly, but a new experience far from the comfort of an American grocery store. This place was the epitome of fresh catch, so I made sure to get some fresh nigiri sushi.

Sushi with a view. I could get used to this quality of fish!

Next stop was the Kenrokuen Gardens next to the Kanazawa castle. These gardens are know to be the third most beautiful gardens in Japan. What are the first two? I don't know, but I can say that the Kenrokuen gardens were the most beautiful I've seen in Japan! Kenrokuen means "having six factors" incicating the six factors that make an ideal garden: spaciousness, tranquility, artiface, antiquity, water, and a nice view. We wandered the paths as the sun was on the descent, making the light ideal for nice photos.

The iris flowers were in bloom during our visit, lining the waterways.

After shutting down the garden, we were looking for a nice place to eat. Lonely planet recommended an izakaya that we decided to head towards. Upon being somewhat lost, we wandered down a street lined with paper lanterns with the izakaya symbol. We went into the one that had the most noise coming out of it when the door was opened. We had a delicious set of small bites and drinks. More and more people poured into the izakaya and the staff were busy getting everyone's ordered. The temperature was quite high and we were ready to leave. It took awhile to flag down our server, but once we did and paid, we were out in the cool(er) night air. 

Some of the local delicacies staring at us from a countertop fridge.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Typhoon Neoguri approaches

I am still catching up on my tourist-ing blogging,  but I'd like to take a break from that to discuss the impending typhoon Neoguri. I have received questions from friends and family asking about my status which leads me to believe that this typhoon is getting good press back in the states. I guess the term "super typhoon" is pretty catchy.

Predicted path of Neoguri and my location in Hiroshima. As you can see we will have somewhere between a category 1 typhoon or a severe tropical storm.

So far, Neoguri has hit the southern Japanese Islands and is forecasted to make landfall on the southernmost "main island" of Kyushu later tonight. We are in the predicted path of the storm, and are likely going to receive heavy rainfall and some strong winds. I will be monitoring the Hiroshima Prefecture's weather advisory website to see how the rain and winds impact the area. 

From the Japan Meteorological Survey's storm tracker webpage. Neoguri is predicted to start heading east and deviate along its current trajectory.

When I looked at the storm location forecast, I was curious about the deviation to the east. Luckily, I had my friend Leah (PhD student in Atmospheric Sciences at University of Utah) on gchat and asked her why the storm takes a sharp turn. Here is a brief, simplified explanation: 

She explained that the shape of the polar jet stream creates a "trough" of colder air, which then acts as a sort of barrier to the hurricane's northward progress, pushing it eastward. This model shows some analysis and forecast of the behavior of the jet stream at the current and modeled conditions. The view looks down on the north pole and you can see Japan in the top left corner. The blue represent areas where  the atmosphere is thinner (i.e. colder), and the reds represent areas where the atmosphere is thicker (i.e. warmer). At the intersection of the blues and the reds is the jet stream which tends to run around the northern hemisphere in kind of a sine wave pattern.

Additionally, this model shows how Neoguri could interact with the jet stream as it heads north. Neoguri is the little black dot that moves north from more equatorial latitudes up to Japan, then turns sharply east, once encountering the trough. 

Model courtesy of University of Utah department of Atmospheric Sciences. Please note that these models from UU may only be available for the next month. 

What are the conditions right now in Higashihiroshima (07/09/2014, 1500 local)? Hot  (82F/28C) and humid (80%, miserable in any unit)! We quite a bit of rain on monday and a decent thunderstorm on monday night. Otherwise, things have been tame.

My neighbor buggin out from the rain on Monday.

I have plenty of food and water, some books and a headlamp for the worst case. The storm appears to be slowing so it may not hit until Thursday. 

Here are some nice informative links regarding Neoguri:

Thank you to Leah for an excellent explanation and graphics for this post!