Tuesday, February 28, 2023

New Bicycle Helmet Law in Japan

Beginning April 1, 2023, wearing a helmet will become mandatory for all cyclists in Japan. So, what happens if you don't wear a helmet? Nothing! There is no penalty or punishment for violations. That seems so Japanese to me. (I love living in Japan!)

According to the National Police Agency, of the 2,145 people who died in bicycle accidents in Japan between 2017 and 2021, 1,237 (about 60%) died of head injuries. 

An online survey conducted in July 2020 revealed that only 11.2% of cyclists nationally wear helmets. Of that number, 63.1% of those younger than 13 wore helmets, while only 7.2% of people between 13 and 89 did so. By prefecture, Ehime had the highest rate of cyclists wearing helmets, at 29%, followed by Nagasaki at 26%, and Tottori at 18%. At the low end, only 4% of Wakayama cyclists and 2% of Hokkaido cyclists wear helmets. 

At my workplace, workers who commute by bicycle are trying to find helmets before the April 1st law goes into effect.  Because of the new law, there seems to be a shortage of helmets at bicycle shops in the area.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Kasuisai Hina Matsuri

Yesterday was a warm sunny day. I took the train to Fukuroi City to see the Hina dolls at the Kasuisai Temple

This display was at the Fukuroi train station.

The walk from the train station to the temple was almost an hour, so I looked around as I walked. I don't know what Pop Food is. Regular gas is 164 yen/liter.  I don't drive, so I don't usually pay attention to gas prices.

Finally, I got to the entrance of the Kasuisai Temple. This is a popular place for the Hina Matsuri or Girl's Festival.

There were lots of Festival Food stands, but I passed on all of it.

There are many stairs and many buildings at this temple.

On each step there are dolls and accessories. The details are amazing.

Cute little girls in kimonos with their families were everywhere.

The higher I climbed, the fewer people I saw.

All temples seem to have these things.

Looking down on the buildings.

This was some kind of cave temple.  I looked in but didn't go inside.

This is looking down on all the dolls on the steps.

This was a poster of a building in the temple area that I had planned to visit, but when I got there, there were so many people.  I really try to avoid crowds, so I decided not to go in. I'm sure it was amazing to see so many hina dolls, but I want to stay healthy, so I passed it by.

I'm glad I visited the temple.  It was a gorgeous place and I got to walk and visit a place I've never been.  It was a good day.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Mister Donut

Mister Donut is a popular place in Japan to get a cup of coffee and a donut and some locations sell other food items. I haven't been to one since before the start of the pandemic but one thing I liked about them was the free second cup of coffee. It is an American type place that Japanese seem to like.  It was originally founded in the United States in 1955, then expanded into Japan in the 1980's.

I was surprised to find out there is only one Mister Donut restaurant left in the United States and it is in Godfrey, Illinois, not far from where I grew up! Apparently Dunkin' Donuts aquired the US Mister Donut in 1990, and most franchises changed their names to Dunkin' Donuts at that time. 

Have you ever had a donut or coffee at Mister Donut in Japan or anywhere else?

Saturday, February 25, 2023

2023 Cherry Blossom Forecast

It looks like they will start blooming about March 25th where I live, according to the Japan Meteorological Corporation.

The forecasting method looks interesting to me, so I thought others might be interested also.

JMC's Method for Forecasting Cherry Blossom Flowering Dates
The mechanism of cherry blossom flowering
The flowering and full bloom dates of cherry blossoms depend on the temperature patterns from autumn of the preceding year. The buds of cherry blossoms are formed during the summer of the preceding year. Before they flower, they must go through two processes: dormancy and growth. Buds do not start growing as soon as they are formed; they first enter a period of dormancy. Dormancy allows the buds to survive the winter, with its cold weather and short days. This phenomenon is not exclusive to cherry trees. In temperate zones, many kinds of plant certain levels (between -5 and 15 degrees centigrade) during the autumn and winter period, trees awaken from their dormancy in anticipation of the approaching spring. After breaking dormancy, the buds enter the growth stage, and grow as the temperatures increase to flowering. During this stage, the higher the temperature is, the better the growth rate will be.
During dormancy, buds do not show any visible development. However, once they enter the growth stage, they will grow increasingly large as the moment of flowering draws nearer. Eventually, their tips will turn a yellowish green color. Just before they start to flower, it will be possible to make out their petals.
Forecast method
JMC has devised its own method for forecasting flowering and full bloom dates based on existing research on the forecasting of flowering and full bloom dates for Somei Yoshino (Yoshino Cherry) trees.
JMC estimates the flowering and full bloom dates for each area based on low temperatures during autumn and winter, cherry tree growth status, cumulative temperatures, and past data for each area.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Small's SAL for February 2023 - Lizzie Kate's "Be My Valentine"

In the past, I participated in the Smalls SAL, but haven't in the last few years. I want to join in again, so Thank You, Mary (at Mary's Thread) for continuing to host this link up. If you also want to join, check out this page on Mary's blog to find out how. 

This month, I finished the Lizzie Kate freebie called Be My Valentine.  The chart can be found here.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Okinawa - Kokusai Dori

Kokusai Dori, which literally translates as International Street, is a 1.6 km street in Naha. The name comes from the Ernie Pyle International Theater, which catered to US servicemen after WWII.  

When I visited this street on previous trips, it was a busy, crowded street, with many restaurants and shops and activity. Previously on Sundays, the street was closed to traffic and people were everywhere. I was there on a Sunday afternoon on this trip and the street was open to traffic, there were few people, and there were many closed shops. That was surprising because it was the New Year Holiday time, so it should have been full of tourists. One good thing was the Blue Seal Ice Cream shop!