Rainy Season Precipitates Precipitation

We’re a couple of weeks into this year’s rainy season, which will last until mid-July. Although it doesn’t rain every day, the weather is generally wet, humid and muggy. Typhoons usually start rolling north-easterly towards the archipelago at the end of the rainy season, but this year we’re getting an early visitor. At midnight tonight Typhoon No. 4 will pass over the Tokai area. Winds in the eye of the storm are currently gusting to 126km/hour. Typhoon No. 5 is hot on its heels, and is currently expected to arrive around Friday, although whether it will come by this part of Japan remains to be seen.

Today our eldest son was sent home from Nursery School early, much to his surprise and delight. We’ve shuttered the large windows at home and are hoping for the best with regard to this year’s rice crop that has just been planted.

As you can see, typhoons are numbered rather than named in Japan. This helps avoid the feeling that one’s close friend (who happens to be called Katrina or Tracy) might be somehow responsible for misery, death and destruction. How thoughtful.

Typhoon No. 4
Typhoon No. 4. projected course. Source: Yahoo! Japan

Life in North Korea

Many areas of rural and semi-rural Japan have a public address system operated by the town council. Multiple loudspeakers are installed on tall poles that are strategically located to ensure that all houses that fall under the council’s jurisdiction are covered. This is the one nearest our house:

The Mind Controller
Mind Controller

The system serves a number of purposes:

  1. It is used to relay announcements in emergencies – such as during the landfall of Typhoon 15 in September when the system kept us notified of the water level of a major river that runs nearby. Several years ago when I was living in a much more rural part of Japan (in northern Shiga Prefecture) the system was used to warn us when bears had been spotted about the town.
  2. Much less usefully the system is used to play “music” at noon and at 6pm. Town councils are seemingly oblivious to the fact that Japan practically invented the modern electronic wristwatch.
  3. Finally, it is used to broadcast announcements about civil events, often at a very uncivil 6.45am on a Saturday morning. Any hypothetical interest I have in attending a council event on a Saturday would quickly evaporate once I am woken up at 6.45 by a loudspeaker imploring me to do what I have already decided to do, albeit now with an hour less of sleep.

So in order, these three different purposes are: practical, unnecessary and annoying.

Some of my friends who live in more rural areas actually have loudspeakers installed in the kitchens of their homes so that messages can be delivered from the town council directly to their brains. The speakers can’t be switched off, nor can the volume be adjusted. The messages are broadcast anytime the council feels like it. This helps councils to enforce a suitably flamboyant style of mourning with respect to the recent and unfortunate passing of our Dear Leader. Is anyone else reminded of a crazy little country on the other side of the Sea of Japan?

Typhoon 15

Like a fart in an elevator, Typhoon 15 has been just hanging around south of Okinawa for the last few days. You can see on the graphic below that it has travelled very slowly in a complete circle over the ocean, and has now started heading for the main Japanese island of Honshu.

Typhoon Forecast

The current location is marked by the solid red circle – the dotted circles show the projected path. According to the latest forecast the eye of the storm will pass right over Nagoya, at around noon tomorrow. That’s represented by the red dot on the graphic above. At that stage it will be moving slowly North-east at only 30km an hour, with wind speeds somewhere between 108 and 162 km/h. Gentlemen – time to hold onto your toupees!

The worst case forecast is for around 400mm of rain over today and tomorrow – this is almost as much rain as falls in an entire year in my hometown of Adelaide! When I left home today Nicewife’s mum was cleaning out the loft so that we could “live up there” if the ground floor of the house floods. I asked her if she’d ever had to do that before in her 30 years of living in that house. She said no. Given that information, I don’t expect that we’ll have to “live up there”, but if it happens, I bet there’ll be no internet. Yeah, that and food.


UPDATE 21 September 8pm JST:

We didn’t have to live up in the loft after all, although Nicewife’s brother and his wife had to evacuate their apartment and stay with us overnight. The eye of the storm thankfully passed Nagoya to the south, thus we avoided the worst of the weather.

Radar picture of Typhoon 15
The radar just after the Typhoon passed Nagoya. The eye of the storm is marked with a black dot.