Happy New Year

1 01 2012

May I wish all of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

2011 may well have been the year that AKB48 consolidated their position as the no.1 group in Japan but last year will always be overshadowed by the tragic events that took place in March. Nearly 10 months on, the agony continues for people that have missing relatives. Today a large 6.8 magnitude quake rattled Japan but there was no damage anywhere and no tsunami warning was given.

If some of you were put off from visting Japan in 2011 by scaremongers telling you that the country is dangerous because of radiation issues don’t listen to them. It is safe and Japan’s tourist industry needs you more than ever to visit. Do yourself a favour and book yourself a flight ticket to visit Japan in 2012. You won’t regret the decision and more than likely once you’ve visited you’ll want to come back again and again. I’m living proof of that. Who knows – you could be lucky enough to see AKB48 at their theater. If that’s not a good enough reason to visit Japan this year I don’t what else is!

Updates (or lack of)

23 11 2011

You’ve probably noticed during this month that I’ve hardly been updating this blog. The reason for that is I’ve lost my enthusiasm for reporting AKB48 news especially since other bloggers are doing a far better job than I am anyway. Seeing as I’m in Japan for a couple of weeks I’ll take the time out to think about whether I should continue or not. Whatever happens I’ll report back on this blog soon. Watch this space.

Is Another 48 Group Based In Hokkaido In The Works?

11 06 2011

Perhaps some of you will groan about yet another 48 group appearing but it seems to be the case. With HKT48 debuting soon, you’d think Aki-P would give them a chance first and hold off from creating another new idol group so soon. Not so according to an estate agent who has leaked news that AKB48 staff members are sniffing out locations somewhere in Sapporo to build a new theater. If they find a suitable place, then auditions for a new 48 group could begin early next year.

Is Aki-P starting to get greedy now and seeing yen signs across his eyes or not? Personally I think it’s getting a bit out of hand. He should focus on the groups he’s got right now. Another 48 group can wait for the time being. I can see the Japanese public saying “oh no, not another bloody 48 group”. There’s such a thing as over exposure for the whole 48 franchise. Where is Aki-P going to stop? How many 48 groups is he thinking of starting up? Does he realise that he’ll have to write songs for them as well as the other groups.

And if this extra group to the 48 franchise does go ahead, what about next year’s senbatsu! 200 girls in the election!!

Japan Tsunami Disaster – One Week On

18 03 2011

Today marked 1 week on since the devastating tsunami that changed Japan forever. During the past 7 days the nuclear catastrophe is still rumbling on but hopefully by the end of Sunday there’ll be good news that all the pumps will have been restarted to cool the nuclear fuel rods in all 4 reactors. The people there battling overwhelming odds against certain death are bona-fide heroes and I hope Prime Minister Kan acknowledges the sacrifice that they’ve made. AKB48 members have been doing their bit to help on their Ameblo blogs by giving advice to fans on how to save energy.

The foreign media haven’t been helping things by putting up sensationalist headlines on their newspapers and making people panic even more. Yes, a lot of foreigners are going home but I assume the majority will not abandon their adopted country and will return as soon as the nuclear situation at Fukushima is made safe.

Most of the world has been proud of the way the Japanese people have kept calm to this tragedy. Everybody helping each other out , people forming orderly queues for water and supplies and no looting has been going on. This would never happen anywhere else I’m certain of it.

I’ve really been dismayed and angry this week about the sick jokes that’s been floating round on some of my work colleagues’ mobile phones about the disaster. What’s worse is they find it funny and have had a good laugh about the misfortune of others. I don’t understand how mocking such a tragic event is even remotely funny. I bet they wouldn’t be laughing if one of their family had died. They’ve probably been wanting a reaction from myself but I haven’t given them the satisfaction but I have told them they should be ashamed of themselves.

EDIT: Helped out today with a charity event run by the Japanese Institute of my local university to raise money for the Tsunami Appeal. As well as doing my bit for the cause, I met some really nice Japanese people and had a go at doing some origami and Japanese calligraphy. Even got interviewed by Welsh TV news who wanted to know why we were doing the event. I think we’ve raised a good amount of money and I’m grateful for all the people that turned up today to support us.

Tsunami Aftermath – Day 3

13 03 2011

March 13th saw more bad news emerging from Japan after the deadly tsunami on Friday. The Japan Meteorological Agency has stated there’s a 70% chance of a huge earthquake measuring 7.0 or more hitting Tokyo over the next couple of days which worries me a great deal. Not only that but the situation at Fukushima Nuclear Plant continues to worsen and there’s a problem at another nuclear plant too. There are fears of another hydrogen explosion at no.3 reactor at Fukushima. People are fleeing the capital with flights booked heavily to leave the city. Already some foreign countries have advised their citizens to leave Tokyo as a precaution.

It breaks my heart to see the country that I love so much go through such pain but knowing the spirit of the Japanese people they’ll survive and come through this crisis. Thankfully though I did receive good news this morning from my best friend in Tokyo who reported that her husband finally returned home from Miyagi this evening. It must have been so stressful for her and it doesn’t help that she’s pregnant too. Stress can harm an unborn child but knowing how mentally strong she is I’m sure she’s been keeping calm as she was in direct contact with her husband. I also got an email from another friend who reported that she was OK as well.

I’ve been watching some videos on Youtube on how people are coping in Tokyo and it was eerie to see Shibuya Crossing on a Saturday night so quiet. Shibuya would be heaving on a Saturday night but seeing some billboards dimmed to conserve energy and the lack of people on the streets was unnerving to say the least. Not that I blame them for staying away. Most will be with their families glued to the TV and watching the news. Tomorrow sees the start of the blackouts for Tokyo. The Kunitachi area where I was staying just over 2 months ago will have 2 scheduled blackouts a day until at least the end of April.

As for AKB48, there’s supposed to be some announcements on Monday as to the situation regarding the group’s activities. There’s no chance of the AKB48 Theater opening that’s for sure.

For those that want to help the people of Japan, please give your money to the Red Cross appeal in your country. I will be donating £50 tomorrow. The people of Japan need all the help they can get right now and it doesn’t matter how much money you give. Every little helps so please do your bit.

This clip from Youtube captures the moment an aftershock hit the departure lounge at Narita Airport

March 12th – The Day After

12 03 2011

The people of Japan will be trying to come to terms today after what has been the worst disaster to hit the country for over 60 years. The scene of devastation is unprecedented and it will take a while to clear up. Rescuers from over 40 countries are rushing to Japan to help the relief effort and to try and find survivors. What’s worse is the situation over at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. There’s been an explosion there in the past 90 mins with fears that a nuclear meltdown is taking place. TV reports show a big wall of white smoke rising from the plant. That’s a very worrying thing.

As to the status of your favorite idols – don’t worry. AKB48 staff and management have contacted everybody and they’re all safe and well. Some members are in Guam and can’t come home right now. The AKB48 Theater is off limits until at least Monday whilst staff check that the place is safe for the girls and for the fans.

In Tokyo itself, citizens are trying to get back to normality. Trains are beginning to run again. Those who had to sleep in their offices or in shelters last night can start to go back home again. Others walked through the night, some for 5 hours to reach their loved ones. There are shortages of food in department and convencience stores – panic buying more than anything.

Everybody – please pray for the people of Japan.

March 11th 2011 – A Day Japan Will Never Forget

11 03 2011

Breaking off from the usual idol news, spare a thought for the citizens of Japan especially those in the Sendai vicinity who have gone through the most powerful quake in over 140 years today. An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the richter scale hit Japan at 2.46pm today triggering a powerful tsunami which slammed into the port of Sendai. The damage has been devastating with 32 people confirmed dead and many more missing. I’ve been watching the live news all morning. Tokyo hasn’t been spared with many powerful aftershocks hitting the capital. Mobile network systems and the transportation hub are down. Roads are completely clogged with traffic and workers are walking home due to there being no trains. I’m naturally very worried about my friends in Tokyo and hope to God they’re all OK. My condolences to all the people that have lost family and friends in the disaster.

EDIT: Still no word from any of my friends in the Tokyo area. All I know is that there’s huge chaos with people stuck in their offices as there are massive queues for taxis taking them home. Until safety authorities check the train lines and that they’re OK for use, nobody will be able to board any trains. It doesn’t help that powerful aftershocks are still rocking the city. I doubt I’ll be able to sleep well tonight until I hear from my friends hopefully tomorrow if the mobile network services have been restored.

The death toll which I said was 32 in my initial report has now shot up to 500 and will probably be in the thousands. What the hell is going on with our planet recently? 3 powerful quakes in the last year and who knows what’s to come in the future.

EDIT 2: Thankfully I’ve had contact with one of my friends in Tokyo. She’s OK although some things toppled over in her office and home. Her husband though is stuck in Miyagi on business which took the brunt of yesterday’s devastation. He’s fine and staying in a shelter although he has no idea when he’ll be able to come back home.