Rakuten Eagles baseball game

I made a trip to the city of Sendai on 20 May.

My colleagues got me this year's first interleague baseball game ticket for Rakuten Eagles (local team in the Pacific League) play against Chunichi Dragons (Central League). Tom Selleck acted as an American player in Chunichi in the movie Mr. Baseball.

Rakuten Eagles in offensive against Chunichi Dragons.

Where as Chunichi is an established team with a long history and 5-time Japanese Champion, Rakuten is a very young team that was formed in 2004 and has been in the league since 2005.

The game was interesting - because Chunichi was the Japanese Champion last year, I think the local crowd did not expect the Eagles to play such a good game against them. But, we were pleasantly surprised that the Eagles beat the Dragons 6-1! The game was very exciting and the supporters were very happy!

The final score - too bad the photo is a bit blurr. Yes, the stadium name is "Kleenex Stadium".

Rakuten's come a long way since their debut in 2005. In their first year, the record was just aweful - out of 136 games, they won only 38 times and lost 97 times with one game a draw. That is .281 average - sounds like someone's batting average! Needless to say, they were the 6th out of 6 teams of the Pacific League. The owner fired the manager and brought in the current manager - Katsuya Nomura. Under his direction, the team is steadily becoming better and as of yesterday, they're in the 3rd place with 25 wins and 24 losses.

It is ironic that the Eagles' best hitter - a 39-yr. old Takeshi Yamazaki was formerly of the Dragons. He was let go from Chinichi after 2002 season and joined Kobe Orix in 2003, but was again let go after 2004. Yamazaki joined the Eagles the year it was formed and is currently hitting .343 (2nd in the league) with 9 home runs and he is definitely the play maker of the team.

It was a glorious night for the city of Sendai and we had a very exciting and fun time. I have my colleagues to thank for the arrangment.


Natural Disasters

This month, we've had two terrible disasters in Asia - a cyclone that swept through Myanmar in May 2 to 3, and a huge earthquake in Sichuan, China of May 12.
Rescue efforts are still ongoing at both places and we are yet to find out the final numbers of victims and the extent of damages. The latest numbers I know at this point of writing this is: Myanmar - 78,000 dead and 56,000 missing, and in China - 29,000 dead and 200,000 injured. This is one of the worst disasters we've seen in this part of the world in the recent years.
Reports are horrifying - mothers looking for missing children and husbands, people crying for the loved ones that are crushed under crumbled buildings - just heart breaking.

I have a friend who is originally from Sichuan. I communicated with him right after learning about the earthquake. He told me that his relatives are all OK, but one of his brothers is a doctor in Chengdu - one of the badly effected areas. He must be very busy with helping victims.

Here in Japan, we get tropical storms (in this region, it is called "typhoons") and earthquakes every year.
Last year, there were 24 typhoons that developed in the south Pacific Ocean and of those, three hit Japan. Typhoon "No. 9" hit the main island in September - caused 1 person dead, two people missing, and 90 people injured. That was very scary. Luckily, Tokyo wasn't hit too bad and the storm passed overnight, but I recall the wind was horrible and the next morning, some trees fell and leaves and branches were all over the place the nearby park and also on streets.

In March of last year, magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Noto area and then again one with magnitude of 6.8 struck Niigata. Noto had one person dead with 355 injured and Niigata had 15 people dead with 2,345 people injured. These two earthquakes were on the Sea of Japan side - relatively less populated areas.
The worst one in the recent history was in January of 1995 - it struck Kobe. This one was of 7.3 magnitude and killed over 6,434 people and 43,792 injured. That was absolutely horrifying.
I lived far away from it, so didn't even feel it, but one of the guys that worked for our company was from Kobe. Fortunately, his parents were unhurt, but their house was completely demolished. His family lost most of their belongings including their precious photo albums.

I learned from the news that the Sichuan Earthquake was caused by the plate of India pushing against the Himalayas - that's like 1000s of kilometers away from the disaster area!

Also, before the Kobe earthquake, there was no significant seismic activities in Kobe area in the recorded history! They found a new fault line with the disaster.

Natural disasters can hit anywhere in the world at any time and can happen to anyone. I understand the initial problems with rescue activities at both Myanmar and China, but I hope they will be able to save as many peole as possible.


Tamagawa Josui

I did an LSD (Long Slow Distance) run last Sunday when it turned out to be a very nice day.

I ran along an old canal, Tamagawa Josui. There is a very nice trail beside it so I didn't have to worry too much about the automobile traffic.

Close from where I live, the canal is very narrow and the stream is shallow, but as I ran up stream, it became deeper and wider. It is amazing to know that this little canal was made per Tokugawa Ieyasu - the Great Shogun's order 355 years ago - to supply water to then a new city of Edo, now known as Tokyo.

I didn't make it all the way to the gate where the water from Tama River is diverted to the canal, but I leisurely jogged for about 30 km all together.

I need to work out more for I am determined to un a full-length marathon (42.195 km) by the year-end.

A map of Tamagawa Josui. The red spot signifies the current location.

The typical trail by the canal. It is nice for there are no traffic lights.

A Zen Temple (Kaiganji) on by the canal.

A typical view of the Tamagawa Josui. Can you spot a pigeon?

Azalea flowers by the trail.

Iris flowers.

A curious warning sign - then I realized that I was close from Yokota Air Base.

Tamagawa Josui in Fussa City.

An intereting sign that showed me the directions.

I wouldn't be running all the way to New York.

Or to these cities. A bit too far for me.


Charles Darwin Exhibition

The National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno has a special exhibition on Charles Darwin.

My children's schools were out last Monday, so I took a day off from work to take them to it.
Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed for the special exhibit area, so I cannot share photos here, but it turned out to be a great fun.

The exhibit not just had scientific stuff, but also had Charles Darwin's personal background as well as historical/social background. I learned that Darwin's grandfather was the founder of Wedgwood, a famous pottery company. It was interesting to learn that he was not a particularly good student (my children were VERY interested in this) when he was young and he would have become a priest if he did not go on the around the world boyage on the HMS Beagle. Darwin was only 22 when he boarded the ship and spent 5 years travelling around the world. The Beagle really went all over the place - South America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand - not just the Galapagos Islands.

Also, it took him 23 years to finally publish his famous "The Origin of Species" after returning to London, because of the social background of the time.

They had a real elephant tortoise and an iguana from the Galapagos Islands - borrowed from the nearby zoo. These animals were very interesting!
The Darwin Exhibition was very stimulating for my children - was well as for me.

We explored the rest of the museum all afternoon - fossils, etc.