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On Japan 16, August 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Japan.
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So I’ve just returned to sunny Doha from two wonderful honeymooning weeks in Japan.

From Tokyo to Osaka via Mount Fuji, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan and Hiroshima. Needless to say, it was all super stuff. Here’s a quick list of probably pointless observations gleaned and dragged back from near-forgetfulness for your perusal.

- Tokyo: what a place. I am an exceedingly big fan of sprawling, noisy (Asian) cities and Tokyo clearly is the daddy of them all. Aside from the typical variety of typical reactions to it (busyness, oddness in places, etc) my overarching thought was that it was awesomely noisy with Cicada-type bugs. They make a helluva a racket: Tokyo’s theme tune for me.

- Fuji: easy (ish) getting up; a bitch going down (when you go the wrong way…). But I saw my first sunrise and it was wholly stunning.

- Hiroshima on the 6th August: quite a moment to be there, on the anniversary. A carnival of peace atmosphere and a beautiful ceremony setting adrift thousands of little boat-cum-lanterns in the evening for those that died. At a gallery where survivors talked about their experiences, the chap who noted that what happened to Hiroshima was a terrible thing but ‘Japan too did terrible things during the war’ was the very personification of dignity and humility.

- Kyoto: Temples and more temples and more temples and more temples and more temples. ‘Scuse me if I’m a pleb (which I surely am) but…well, clearly they’re stunning (golden one and an orange one in particular), but…well…seen one…

- Nara: largest/oldest wooden structure still around: ’nuff said. Seen to be believed.

- Koyasan: there for the 13th – Obon – the festival of the dead. In an amazingly atmospheric cemetery which was the perfect cross between Sherwood forest (i.e. all Robin Hood and that) and that Ewok planet, there were thousands of candles lit for the souls of the dead. Very beautiful. Trumped, however, by the temple of 10,000 lanterns, a fairly self-explanatory temple/building that is quite probably the single most stunningly beautiful and impressive sight that I’ve ever seen.

- Osaka: can’t beat a huge Asian city.

- Food: wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Though beef, sushi and especially tempura is now, of course, ruined forever more. Or until I return.

Conclusion: visit Japan.

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Japanese tanker damaged in Straits of Hormuz: the contenders 2, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Japan.
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This is a picture of the damage done to a Japanese Oil Tanker in the Straits of Hormuz. The M-Star was on its way from Al Ruwais, Qatar to Chiaba near Tokyo laden with 270,204 tonnes of oil when the incident occurred. There a number of explanations as to what caused the damage.

The best explanation spluttered out by nervous Emiratis and Omanis was that it was a freak wave. Now, whilst I am no ship’s engineer, I wholly refuse to believe that a wave – however freakish – could dent a ship in this manner. Nor can I see how a wave could leave an apparent blast pattern just above the waterline. This explanations has overtones of Comical Ali, to me at least.

Some reports suggest that the crew reported seeing a flash of light just before impact. This led some to suggest that it was an Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG). However, the consensus seems to be that an RPG would leave a tell-tale round hole which is not present.

The notion that the ship ran into another vessel was also mooted. It would clearly not be the first time that this had happened as Mideasti neatly rounds up. Yet, the lack of scratch marks appears to suggest that this too is unlikely.

Overall, the most likely explanation put forward was that it hit a mine that has been bobbing around the Gulf since the Iran-Iraq war. This would explain the location of the impact (close to the waterline), the relative lack of damage (degradation of the mine over the decades) and the shock-wave damage to windows on the superstructure.

Kuwait oil to Japan down 20% 22, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Japan, Kuwait.
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KUNA reports that in December 2009 Kuwait’s exports of oil to Japan were down 20% on the same period last year. Anyone have any ideas why? Perhaps it’s just a random cyclical thing…

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