Typhoon 15 Hazards

There are usually between 20 and 30 typhoons in the Pacific each year and the Japanese don’t bother with naming them, but just give them numbers. Many typhoons don’t hit the greater Tokyo area but of course some do. During the night of the 8th to 9th of September typhoon 15 made a direct hit and shook the 20 to 30 million people in its path. The dude hit during the night and the 30 million didn’t get too much sleep, myself included. Wind and rain were magnificent and something kept banging outside my bedroom, but you don’t have much choice but to ignore it, since those were winds you don’t want to go into in your pajamas. We had winds in Yokohama of up to 150 km/h and in Chiba prefecture of up to 200 km/h. After dozing on and off and finally getting up, it turned out that the banging close to me was an old (and empty) plastic drawer box that I use as a bag stand when locking my front door.


It had been literally shredded by the wind, all three drawers were torn out, one was gone completely and the other two were in shreds. I found the missing third drawer at the front of the house later. It had flown from west to east around the north side of the building. Wow.
During the night my apartment’s front door got sucked in and out due to wind force and I feared it would be torn out of its hinges. Exactly that is what happened to one half of the massive wooden entrance door of the apartment building. It lay toppled on the ground the next morning.


They always make a fuss about typhoons but sometimes it is justified. It surely was in case of typhoon 15 of 2019. I can only imagine what hurricane Dorian must have been like in the Bahamas. That was loads more powerful than our typhoon 15. You are utterly helpless while the storm is going on and can do nothing but hope your roof stays over your head, which it didn’t do in the Bahamas… Only two people died due to typhoon 15 and there were some 50 injuries. How much worse is the yet unknown death toll and damage in the Bahamas.
While Yokohama was fine, two overland electricity masts and countless smaller ones were torn to the ground in Chiba causing power outages which are still not repaired for some 130,000 people a week later.


Then the trains on Monday morning – one big mess. The JR lines had estimated to be running again starting from around 8:00 (they usually start around 5:00), but my homeline finally resumed service at around 11:15. I did go a bit later to the train station and only waited for about half an hour in the brooding after-typhoon heat until a cafe opened, which usually opens at 7:00 but managed to open at 10:00 on that day. So I had a good time at the cafe with breakfast and tea, but plenty of people were stuck outside in the heat, lining up for trains and being squeezed half to death in completely over-crowded running ones. Apart from Chiba, the train situation calmed down during the day, but millions of people had a quite shitty Monday morning. I have no doubt that the typhoon situation in the Pacific and the hurricane situation in the Atlantic will worsen in the coming years thanks to global warming. Also in Japanese TV they said in the evening, our typhoon 15 was so severe, because of “higher than normal” ocean temperatures which fuel the winds. While Japan is a rich place and can take it (for the moment), the Bahamas or other countries are not so well off or prepared. There will be “fun” ahead, no doubt.

Kirkenes and Hurtigruten

After the Oslo visit, I flew to Kirkenes, a mere seven kilometers from the Russian border and located at 69 degrees north. Kirkenes is a frontier town and has officially 3500 inhabitants compared to the 600.000 of Oslo. Much of the place exists because of the Norwegian fjord cruise ships that anchor there and load and unload passengers. There is some cruise ship there every day, I believe, even during the winter months for aurora watching. For only 3500 people living there, it has a lot of shopping malls. I went to two and a map spoke of yet another one. Apart from those though, there is nothing going on in that cold little town.

Despite it being 9th of August, it was about seven Celsius during the endless day. While staying there I learned about civil, nautical and astronomical twilight. Thing is, in winter, there is no official daylight from November 28 to January 15. I cannot imagine how bleak, dark, cold and miserable the place has to be in winter when I found it already pretty bleak, cold and miserable in summer! The pic below is from my hotel room at around midnight or so.


But then it was finally time to get on board the cruise ship.
A few words about the company with the for German ears funny sounding name Hurtigruten. Hurtig is also a now rather unused, old-fashioned German word, and it means quick, fast. Ruten is route. So it literally means express route. The company is over 120 years old and they started as post, cargo and of course passenger ships along the Norwegian coast to reach all those remote villages. The stops are fixed still to unload and offload people and goods. You can also board the ship from town A to B like a train without paying for cabins or food or anything. You can even sleep in the salons on board if you stay for a few stops overnight.

If a cabin were to be free you could also book a cabin for a night, I suppose, but I guess most cabins are occupied by cruise passengers who have full meal packages too. So apart from the cruise passengers there was a coming and going of backpackers and locals and all sorts of people from all walks of life. The full cruise is eleven nights from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. I did only the half cruise from Kirkenes to Bergen. Since you are at the ports at different times of day, you kinda need to go both ways to get the full experience, but for me personally five nights on board were enough 😉 with greetings from sea sickness! 😉

The Grave Digger in Japan

There is something special about the Grave Digger 😉 Though at the same time, sorry, Grave Digger, but you have never been my band number one. LOL. However, Grave Digger has always been there, somewhere, among my top ten bands. The band does have a special personal importance to me, since one of their albums was the inspiration for in total over one thousand pages of novel = my Hagen Patterson Trilogy: She Should have Called Him Siegfried, To Mix and to Stir and Give Substance to a Thought. Those musings were the result of Grave Digger’s take on the Ring of the Nibelungen Saga in form of their album Rheingold, which let me find a Nibelungen story of my own.

Also, one of their songs “Excalibur” is among my top ten songs of all times. The guitar riff of that song is a killer and has an undisputed place in my pantheon.


I missed their gigs quite often and only rather late, in 2017, I had the privilege to see the Grave Digger for the first time live during 70,000 Tons of Metal, then, the same year in Wacken (yeah!) and now finally finally in Japan.
That band is around since 1980 (!), next year they will have their 40th (!) anniversary, or rather the singer, Chris Boltendahl will have his 40th band anniversary, since he is the only constant band member. The guy is now 57 years old.
I am not sure why they did not come to Japan for a staggering 23 years. Last time they were in Japan it was 1996! Wow! But yesterday, finally, they played at the Evoked Fest with Alestorm as the headliner.
Note the drums of Alestorm with the joke on it: Drave Gigger 😉


I hope it doesn’t take another 23 years for the Grave Digger to come to Japan again. I surely enjoyed banging my head to Excalibur and the Tunes of War last night. Well done guys! See you again soon, hopefully 😉 And thanks for writing that Rheingold album 😉

A Visit to Oslo

After the usual family visit following Wacken, it has become a bit of a tradition to do something extra. Last year I’ve been to Iceland, the year before that to Scotland and Ireland, etc. This time the way led to Norway, the last Scandinavian country I had not been to yet. The plan was to have two days in Oslo, then to go to the very north eastern end, to Kirkenes, a mere seven kilometers from the Russian border, and board a ship to do a Norwegian fjord cruise.


Oslo is a beautiful, rich and expensive city that is well worth a visit. It’s got everything to offer from castles over palaces to modern architecture, good museums and fancy shopping malls. One highlight is surely the opera building. You can walk onto its roof from the outside. A very cool and interesting concept and a must when you go to Oslo.

The Akershus Fortress is a nice small castle with not too many tourists (at least not when I went there). You can visit the royal palace during the summer months, but only with guided tours with a limited number of tickets and my “go and see what’s there” travel style without planning much in advance, did not help here, since all tickets for the days of my Oslo stay were booked out.


I did a two hour fjord cruise too, which brings you past exquisite summer residences and permanent residences on the small islands everywhere in the fjord and past glitzy yachts as well.

I went to two museums, the Viking ship museum, which has, as the name says three 1000 year old Viking ships to offer. You can see the ships as well as other Viking times items like sledges, tools and so forth.


Vikings are “popular” nowadays and you have to compete for viewing space with countless other tourists. I also visited the Fram museum, named after the ships Fram 1 and Fram 2, which were polar exploration vessels, led by Roald Amundson, the man who reached the South Pole first. The north and South Pole missions are equally treated, and enough space is given to the other explorers who tried to reach the same goals. The main attraction of the Fram museum are two preserved ships, the Fram 2 and the Gjoa. You can also board both vessels and explore them first hand.


Oslo is a lovely city and it would have been nice to stay a day or two longer, but the way led further north 😉

Wacken 2019 Report

My fifth Wacken trip happened without a single of my favorite bands being present, which on the one hand was a bit sad, but which on the other hand, meant a very stress free and relaxed Wacken for me 😉
The weather was actually excellent, a bit hot, but not as hot as the previous year and not as dry and as dusty either. Nevertheless there was of course a weather-happening. On the Wacken Friday they suddenly stopped the gigs of Eluveitie on the Faster stage and Gloryhammer on the Louder stage because of a thunderstorm. With security people and do-not-enter bands, they drove the entire 75.000 people out of the holy ground, Wackinger village included, and into the tent town behind the venue. They asked people to return to their cars. Since daily parking was a mile away, I decided to stay at a breakfast/coffee place while my two companions returned to our car.

It then rained about for an hour and there was some distant thunder and lightning, but the show could go on after an interruption of about two hours in total. Trouble was that a few bands didn’t fit into the schedule anymore and were sent home! One of the bands, Tribulation, was one I had wanted to see. I was disappointed of course, but had this been one of my favorite bands, I would have been devastated and gone wild. You fly all the way to Wacken and then they cancel your favorite band because of a tiny storm?!??? I surely hope that this won’t happen again next year again. I can sort of understand that the organizers are careful after apparently several accidents with fatalities happened during other open air gigs that were hit by thunder storms. But it did feel a bit like overkill to send 75.000 people away from the venue.


Other than that we had an excellent time at Wacken. The atmosphere at the festival is awesome with everyone being happy to be there. I of course saw quite a couple of bands, but I shall only focus on the highlights. Warking looked fun and I shall download some of their stuff. Jinjer impressed me very much. That lady has a roar that knocks your socks off. I will definitely check out more about them. There were of course the Powerwolf and Sabaton gigs, though that business with the two stages for Sabaton worked only to a very limited degree with the Harder stage being empty the first hour of the set…
The small highlight was Demons & Wizards for me. It was the first time to see Hansi from Blind Guardian on stage in Wacken and they even played some Iced Earth and Blind Guardian songs too. A very nice gig and a great show.

My personal big highlight though was Septicflesh.
I had seen them once before at 70.000 tons of metal and had them in good memory, and in the meantime my taste has turned ever more towards rough vocals and melodic death metal and my ears were kind of prepared more for Septicflesh. I also managed to get into the first row (for the first time inside the Headbangers Ball tent) which always has a big appeal and the gig was exceptionally good. I shall most certainly listen in to more of Septicflesh’s albums. The gig was awesome.


My fifth Wacken was great and I immediately bought the Wacken ticket for 2020, since at least one of my favorite bands will be there, Amon Amarth! Let’s see if other favorite bands will join them! It will be sad again of course to go to Wacken 2020 without my British buddies, but they can only join me every second year. Guys, see you again in Wacken 2021! But before that Wacken 2020 for me with Amon Amarth! Muahahahahahaha!

Floor Master of the Clipboard


Before I bought an apartment in Japan, I did not know of all the very important tasks that would descend upon me as one of the apartment owners in our building. After I had to serve as a house-committee-member right in my first year of residence due to regular rotation of the task among the 62 parties in the building, I had thought I’d be spared any bureaucratic nightmares for a few years, but far from it 😉 Since 1st of April, I am the master of the clipboard for my floor for a year until end of March 2020. What does a clipboard master have to do? The lady, who is the clipboard master of the whole building, is putting information from our ward office and other xyz community announcements into my post box when she gets something new. Next, I have to put it into a (provided) clipboard together with a piece of paper, where all parties on my floor have to put their stamps on as proof that they have “read/acknowledged” the contents. (In Japan, people use stamps/seals of their names instead of signatures). So what happens is that you put the clipboard in front of the door of the next person and the last one is supposed to return the clipboard to me. I have to keep it and repeat the procedure when the next information comes. So far so good. But, when I got the latest stack of paper there was something else in my post box too. The request to go around and collect 100 yen per apartment for the Red Cross. Hya! I experienced the thing the other way round of course, a neighbor coming and asking me for the donation. It happens about three or four times a year, for the Red Cross, and two or three other welfare oriented NPOs. Nobody told me it would also be my job as the clipboard master to go around and collect that money.


For a moment I was less than enthused, thinking I have no time for this, but then I persuaded myself that it was actually interesting. I know some of my neighbors, but by far not all and it would be kind of interesting to see who lives where and how they react to a foreigner collecting that stuff. So I ventured out on a Sunday evening before dinnertime and knocked on every of the ten doors assigned to me. Eight answered and handed over that 100 yen, all being very polite about it and saying the standard greeting for hard work done. Since I presumed the lady who is the clipboard master of the whole building at the moment was collecting the money, I went by her place last and she was quite enthusiastic that I had done my job. I asked her what about the two parties that did not answer and she shrugged and said forget it. She then sent me though to another lady who is the collector of the money. There the same show of politeness and bowing all around.
The thing is – had I gone complaining to the clipboard master of the house, she probably would have insisted that I collect from everyone, but since I was pro-active, shut up and did my job, I am released of the duty to try to catch the last two parties. Another observation is, such tasks are solely performed by women. In the two and a half years that I live at the place, not a single man has come around to collect the Red Cross or other donations. Who answered the door were solely the housewives or adult daughters. Still so much Japanese tradition: house /community = women’s job. Well then, I shall go collecting that 100 yen another two or three times and send the clipboard around every month until my term of duty ends.

The Bus Is Late!

I don’t even remember the occasion anymore, but recently I was at some other office of ours and then went home to do home office for the rest of the day at around noon. I didn’t have the bicycle with me either due to rain in the morning, but when I arrived at the bus stop the sun had come out and it was relatively hot. Who rides the buses of Yokohama around noon? Mostly elderly people and mothers with pre-school children. A bunch of us waited at the bus stop and waited and waited and no bus was in sight. Some of the elderly people started grumbling and mumbling, unhappy about the bus’s delay.
It finally showed up, about fifteen precious minutes late. One old gentleman was bawling at the bus driver “you are late!”.
A super young guy sat in the bus driver seat, maybe 22 or something like that and an elderly bus driver approaching 60 stood next to him. The situation was thus clear, that this was the first or one of the first rides of the young guy and he had a teacher with him. The young guy looked very tense and stressed.
When the bus sat in motion the teacher bus driver turned around, took his hat off and bowed deeply to the bus customers apologizing for the delay (without giving a reason) and stating that we were 16 minutes late.
There was more disgruntled mumbling from some of the elderly passengers.
The teacher bus driver then turned around and continued his explaining to the young apprentice. At the next bus stop the show repeated itself in the exact same fashion, ranting elderly people boarded the bus and the apology followed with hat removal, bowing and the announcement that we were now 17 minutes late.
The whole scene highly bemused me, though I think I was the only one having fun. The young driver and his teacher stood there in shame and the elderly folk in thundering anger. It sometimes ain’t no fun to work in the service industry in Japan! Why the heck are those elderly folk so angry about the bus delay? You’ve got all the time in the world! I don’t think you have any telecons to do when you get home 😉 But that’s Japan for you, the promise of service was broken and the poor drivers experienced a wave of disapproval. I hope the young kid didn’t quit, but then again it’s not common or easy to quit your job in Japan 😉

Out Now – Red Angel 42

It is done! About one and a half years after Jeronimo, the Red Angel 42 is out there in the ether. 🙂

You can order it in Kindle format or as a paperback from Amazon in the US, EU or Japan.

Earth’s controlled environment is failing, and humanity’s last hope lies with New Earth, the planet the Keepers of Jeronimo and their followers fled to a thousand years ago. One ship of the 81 that were sent, the Red Angel 42, finds New Earth and sends the happy message home once reaching orbit. Humanity’s survival is ensured, or so they think. Captain Sumari’s crew will have two years to prepare what they can for the arrival of colonists. Once planetside, Captain Sumari and his crew make contact with the descendants of the Jeronimo loyals only to discover they have no machines, no metal, and no memory of their ancestors… or Earth.
The only one not surprised to see them is a young woman named Nimo. She sees millions of people in the Dome of Souls – an entity bestowing revelations both personal and powerful to a chosen few – and so is quite open to the strangers’ arrival. Nimo quickly finds herself torn between her people and the Earthlings, and becomes entangled in the fight for survival Sumari and his crew face against the hazards of the new planet and Nimo’s superstitious people.

Red Angel 42 – Proof Ordered

The “proof” is ordered 🙂
The proof of the paperback version of the Red Angel 42 is on the way to my address and when everything looks good I shall press the “publish” button and the book will be available in a week or ten days or so 🙂
It’s been quite a journey as always. I wrote the first draft of the Red Angel 42 two years ago. The Dome of Souls novel series is running now since 2011 when I published its first volume Dome Child. The whole idea is around since a whopping 22 years now. As mentioned in earlier blog entries, the Dome of Souls story started as TV series scripts with Jeronimo – which I published in 2017, 20 years after its initial version. Looking at my old records, the Red Angel 42 is some 13 years old now. I wrote its TV series version in 2006. OMG! Time flies 😉
Of course much has changed since 2006, but the main characters Sumari, Nimo, Lavalle and the brothers Jurley and Jero already existed back then. What they do on the planet and how they interact with the locals has changed a lot though from the TV script to the novel version.
I’m very pleased to see the Red Angel’s crew and the inhabitants of Nirvana so changed and improved.
The Red Angel 42 is the one Dome of Souls novel that does not have a Dome Revelation by the way! And yet, the Dome plays (of course) an essential part in the characters’ lives.
If you look back at the Dome Child and the first Dome Revelation of good old Jove Hendricks – yes, “Nirvana” is the red planet he sees.
Then he sees another planet, a dark and sinister one, that has a ring around it. That’s Bahrein! Actually I have already written the first draft of the 5th Dome of Souls novel, which will take us to Bahrein, as hinted at in the epilogue of the Red Angel 42. Writing the Bahrein novel has been a very pleasant experience, because it was/is the one Dome of Souls novel which was/is most vividly in my head with lots of details ready. I’ll of course brood a while over rewrites and edits, but I’m rather certain that I can publish it in 2020.
But for now it’s the time of the Red Angel 42 and I’m very thrilled to be able to push the “publish” button soon 🙂

Out Soon – Red Angel 42

My fourth “Dome of Souls” novel – “Red Angel 42” will see the light of day soon.
Here’s its “blurb” 🙂

Earth’s controlled environment is failing, and humanity’s last hope lies with New Earth, the planet the Keepers of Jeronimo and their followers fled to a thousand years ago. One ship of the 80 that were sent, the Red Angel 42, finds New Earth and sends the happy message home once reaching orbit. Humanity’s survival is ensured, or so they think. Captain Sumari’s crew will have two years to prepare what they can for the arrival of colonists.
Once planetside, Captain Sumari and his crew make contact with the descendants of the Jeronimo loyals only to discover they have no machines, no metal, and no memory of their ancestors… or Earth.
The only one not surprised to see them is a young woman named Nimo. She sees millions of people in the Dome of Souls – an entity bestowing revelations both personal and powerful to a chosen few – and so is quite open to the strangers’ arrival. Nimo quickly finds herself torn between her people and the Earthlings, and becomes entangled in the fight for survival Sumari and his crew face against the hazards of the new planet and Nimo’s superstitious people.

As usual, the cover was painted by the great Naoyuki Katoh. 🙂

The previous Dome of Souls series novels are:
Dome Child
The Anatomy of Anarchy
Jeronimo

Tokyo Olympics Ticket Lottery

In May 2019, one year and two months before the start of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 there was the first chance to get tickets. A ticket lottery was held for residents of Japan. If you have an address here, you could enter the lottery.
I thought, why not, since it’s a once in a lifetime thing. You could apply for anything that there is and my selection criteria were as follows: Not on a working day – I’m not such a big fan that I would sacrifice one of my precious paid leave days for this ;-). Only during the first weekend end of July 2020, since I might be flying to Europe again as almost every summer to go to Wacken Open Air for example 😉 Heavy Metal is of course much more important to me than whatever kind of sports! 😉 The last criterion was – indoors please!!! It will be end of July – I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been to Tokyo yet in July and August has an idea about just how hot and humid it is here. I already feel very very sorry for the athletes and also the fans because of the heat they will have to deal with for outdoor sports.
So, under these conditions I checked what would be on during the first weekend: Swimming, gymnastics, table tennis, judo, volleyball, fencing, weightlifting. After discussing with a Japanese friend of mine who wanted to do the same thing as myself, we decided to skip on volleyball and fencing, due to the venues being pretty far away (Chiba etc. – it’s called the Tokyo Olympics, but not all venues are in Tokyo ;-)) So we both applied for the stuff and my friend applied for much more, independent of that first weekend and her husband did as well. Then we all waited for a month and on 20th of June was the announcements of who won in the ticket lottery.
A whopping over 7 million (!) something Japan residents from all over the country entered the ticket lottery as stated in the national news. I don’t know how large the ticket contingent for the Japan residents for this lottery was, I suppose not that large, since one big part of the Olympics is to get people from all over the world to visit the country. Thus I thought the chances to win anything in the ticket lottery were close to zero considering 7 million applicants.
On the 20th, excitement was quivering in the office, some people got mails from the system saying that they didn’t win anything. One guy got a mail that he won tickets for baseball and was pretty happy. Many people who entered the lottery, me included, didn’t get mails and were jittery as to what was going on. Arrived at home I tried to get into the website and there was a queue of over a 100,000 people wanting to do the same thing… I got in astonishingly quickly though and looked at “my tickets”. Everything was nope, nope, nope, then! The last entry – weightlifting! Ticket win! hahahahaha. Yeah! My friend and I will be going to the Olympics! 😉 I tried to pay the tickets the same evening, but 70,000 people were before me in the queue trying to pay for theirs. So I stopped and left the queue, but managed to buy the tickets the next day. My friend and her husband won nothing at all by the way. Just because there is such a hype, I am now hyped too. You could choose between official print ticket, mobile ticket and print at home. I chose the official print version, just for the sake of it 😉 Those will apparently only be delivered in May 2020.
My friend and I shall thoroughly support the weightlifters and cheer them on. One sweet spot of the weightlifting ticket is that there will be medals given out. Of course many events are “pre-rounds” without medals. But for the weightlifters there will be a winner and a medal ceremony and that’s kinda cool as well.
I don’t know yet whether I will try to get more tickets during the official ticket sales. I think they will be insane. I tried to get rugby world cup tickets in the 3rd ticket sales and it was madness with hour long queues and the tickets gone in minutes. I will take a look at the official ticket sales for the Olympics, but probably give up soon, since at least I’ve got one ticket and will see one event live on July 26th 2020. Cheers!

What You Can Do for Your Company

There is a famous quote from JFK: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. Recently I have been confronted with this idea in a more mundane fashion: ask not what your company can do for you – ask what you can do for your company.
We always have expats in the Japanese branch of the company I work for. The original idea of these expats is that they bring the expert knowledge of the headquarters into the regions and go home again after about three years. Such expat contracts are very sweet = the company pays a lot of money to these expats. They also bring other privileges with them, most notably their 30 days of paid annual leave in contrast to the 20 days of paid annual leave we get here as locally hired staff.
It happens that at the moment we have two extremes among our expats in my department, one of them is 100% doing everything for the company and nothing for himself, and one of them is doing 100% for herself and nothing for the company.
As usual, extremes are unhealthy. The 100%-for-the-company guy works like mad, he has a hundred overtime hours per month, doesn’t take all his vacation days and he is bursting with a sense of duty, a sense for helping others, a sense for “I have to save the company”. I’m always telling him to slow down and to not work so much and enjoy life a bit more, that there is more to life than work. He doesn’t really listen because it’s in his nature to want to save the world 😉
But there is also the other extreme, a woman who is 100% about herself and 0% about the company. She always looks for her advantage, her rights, her “career”, her vacation days, her workload, it’s always about her her her. Sorry to say so, but she comes across as an arrogant, egoistic bitch. It doubly vexes me, because she is a woman in lower management and does not shed a good light on women in management in general. She kind of undermines everything I fought for in my company here in Japan during the past ten years or so, since I decided to aim for a moderate career. This is the kind of expat that we really don’t need in Japan. I encountered one more person like her, another egoistic bastard some ten year ago whose arrogant guts I despised and now he got competition.
In Japan the general tendency is to do more for your company than yourself. I personally think my balance is 60:40. 60% for the company, 40% for myself. I take all my 20 paid annual leave days and I have fought a nearly 20 yearlong battle against overtime. I have always managed to stay under 10 hours of overtime a month and get a moderate career despite that. I’d say I’m taking care of my interests, but I am also well aware that it is my company that provides me with a relatively luxurious lifestyle.
The Japanese colleagues around me are mostly 70:30 I would say = 70% for the company, 30% for themselves, sense of duty and also group pressure are generally very high. There are also plenty with 80:20 or 90:10 and some with 100% for the company like that one expat colleague. The lower end: more for myself and less for the company is very rare in Japan. That’s also why that expat woman sticks out so negatively. While I have encountered one or the other 50:50 Japanese colleague, I have never encountered a Japanese colleague who is all about him or herself and zero about the company.
With the worldwide economy declining now, I think it becomes even more important to ask yourself what you can do for the company, because without it there is no bread on the table and no Norwegian Fjord cruises (I’ll do one in August). And if people like me cannot go on Norwegian Fjord cruises anymore, those people who work in that industry will get no bread on their tables and so forth, it’s all connected and egoists who think only about themselves are not what we need. 

Owl Cafe

My birthday was coming up on a Wednesday and I had no holidays to spare. Nevertheless there was the desire to do something special of course and I wrecked my brain for a while what to do in the evening, until I had the idea to go to an owl cafe. It’s been quite the fashion in Tokyo to have animal cafes here and there. It started with cat cafes and quickly spread to other animals, notably owls and hedgehogs (the latter are not native to Japan and therefore “exotic”). Actually the owl cafe boom is already past its prime and several places a friend and I checked still had internet pages but were out of business. Eventually my friend and I found a cafe relatively close to the office and made an appointment. The cafe closes usually at 19:00 but we got a special service and they opened for us from 19:00 to 20:00.
Arrived there an interesting smell wafted through the door and a staggering eighteen owls were staring at us with their huge piercing eyes. I had expected maybe six or seven birds and was surprised at the number of birds of all sizes and sub species. The room was cleverly made bigger by a huge mirror and quite spacious. At a counter the presumably owner of the shop collected the entrance fee, gave us drink packs, then explained about the owls with the help of a tiny cute guy not much bigger than a hand. If you go with your hand in front of their faces or bellies they pick at you but if you approach them from above they are okay with you touching their heads. Depending on the size of the bird having them pick at you is not a good idea. 😉
Then the exploring started with the biggest of the owls right in the middle of the room. A huge bird native to Siberia with a head almost as big as that of a human. It was also okay to touch her.


The bigger owls are the older they can get. The tiny guy will get maybe ten to thirteen years old, the huge lady might get even forty years old. It’s quite impossible to tell how old an owl is when you don’t know when she was born. And it’s also impossible to tell by her looks if the owl is a boy or girl. The owls in the shop were all between three and ten years old and have never been in the wild. They get one round of raw rodent meat per day. The portion size of course varies per size of the bird.


These owl cafe birds just hang out on their perches all day and stare around.
I’m not sure if that’s the best life ever but the cafe owner lady sure loves her birds giving them smooches before she put the birds onto our shoulders and arms.
You are not allowed to move and must hold on to the band that’s tethered to their feet in case they do decide to flutter around.
Depending on their sub species their feathers are super soft. I was not close enough to an owl before and did not know they have huge eyelids to cover their big eyes with. Some owls closed those eyelids when I stroked their heads which looked very cute. The birds make all sorts of grunting noises which was quite interesting as well. Only one made “uhu” noises while climbing around his space. Three of the eighteen you were not allowed to touch since they scare too easily but the other ones were all okay with human contact. While sitting on shoulders and arms they held quite still, but that great revolvable head moves around all the time.


It was a very cool experience to be so close up and personal with these beautiful birds and a great idea for an after work birthday experience 🙂
Thanks to fuwafuwa Café!

Kume Island Report – Part 4

On the next day on Kume island, I headed to the west coast, which promised another great beach. The promise was correct and the Aara beach turned out to be equally lonely as the east side beach of the island. It looked especially lovely from a higher vantage point when you can see the sea converging between the coral reef banks.

I drove through the main town in search for some decent souvenir and food shops, but was disappointed. While there were two, three souvenir shops, the whole “Main Street” area was run down and had definitely seen better days. I rode on towards the airport past the baseball ground where the Rakuten team usually holds its winter camp and to the only real “resort” hotel of the island. It’s at an interesting boulder cluttered beach, but also right next to the airport. Not that there are many planes, but nevertheless the fortification concrete slabs of the runway are disturbing the boulder beach.


My last full day on Kume island brought bad weather unfortunately and it rained quite heavily for most of the day. I went only for a short bicycle ride to another look out, then walked on the beach for a while in the rain.

The next morning, the Kume trip was already done. I have explored most of the island though apart from a forest stretch to the south and the north-western corner. The four hour boat ride back to Naha was nice, even though the boat swayed quite a bit despite better weather than on the way to the island.

In Naha I did some shopping and then headed to a shopping mall in order to catch Avengers Endgame. I must admit that the city girl in me highly enjoyed the shopping mall and some modern touch. While Kume has beautiful nature, the man made stuff on the island is old and run down and a bit depressing. It’s a shame actually, since the island itself is so beautiful. But then again, there are many beautiful islands in Okinawa 😉

Kume Island Report – Part 3

There was a fat thunderstorm during the night and tons of rain, but luckily it cleared up in the morning and ever more so during the day and I made best use of the fine weather with the longest bicycle tour that I had planned out. The eventual aim of the day was the northern shore of the island with a big rock formation. But the first stop was the magnificent Hiyajo Banta cliff with great views over the northern east side of the island.

From there I headed into the clouds to the Uegusuku castle ruins, which lie on the top of one of the highest hills of the island. While it was a shame that the view wasn’t so good, it was also kinda cool and mystic to be standing in the clouds.

Then I rode down to sea level again for the Mifugaa rock, which is indeed quite am impressive formation, also the grim rocks next to it, which I called the castle of the Witch King of Angmar were equally Impressive.

The long rides up the hill to the Hiyajo Banta cliff were quite hard, but luckily my bicycle had power assist. The Mifugaa rock was the furthest point away from home and I was pretty tired and hot and had a headache and feared for a while to have a sunstroke by the end of the trip. Without hat I surely would have gotten a sun stroke. As soon as the sun is out it’s quite brutal in Okinawa. After all, the island is on the same latitude as the Sahara desert… But after some rest and cooling down everything turned out to be fine. 🙂