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Friday, April 11, 2014

MUFA Day #6: The Japan Times

My flight from Bangkok to Tokyo Narita was totally uneventful, which is the best kind of international transition.  Here is a work of art from the airport in Bangkok:

My Thai Air executive club snack:

I then boarded that giant Airbus 380...

…beginning with some Piper-Heidsieck champagne.  The service, amenities and meals were outstanding.  However, business class is on the second deck, and while I had a window seat, you can't really look down.

I landed at Narita and got through all the processing very quickly, bought a limousine bus ticket to the Tokyo Westin and had only a two minute wait.

At the hotel I had some anxious moments, because I had left Thailand three days early on a Friday, and this hotel always has elaborate weddings on Saturdays where rooms are subscribed well ahead of time.  My platinum status worked, for I was snuck in without a reservation for the full five day period.  The Tokyo Westin Executive Club is like returning home, for the staff all knows me.  I had my dinner here:  glass of champagne, a Jack Daniels with grapefruit, salad, marinated salmon, garlic rice, potatoes and steak.  These were tiny things, so I had two servings of each.  All for free.

Then breakfast today, which came with the room, was fabulous, and the azaleas are in bloom:

As I'm in Japan earlier, I made adjustments to my two-week Shinkansen (bullet train) tour, and for those tracking my whereabouts:
  • Niigata:  Sunday, April 13
  • Nagano
  • Tokyo
  • Kyoto
  • Nagasaki
  • Osaka
  • Sendai
  • Aomori
  • Tokyo, where I return to the Tokyo Westin on April 26.
Well, that was a long-winded ramble, finally leading to the Japan Times, an English newspaper launched in 1897.  During World War II, this paper served as a propaganda outlet for the Imperial government.  It is now totally independent, with 160 staff writers, and linked to the New York Times.  Here is what the Japan Times reported today:
  • Sakura from Space Blooms Early:  Interestingly enough, the International Space Station might have found a potential market commodity.  In 2008 pits from 265 celebrated cherry blossom trees where sent to the ISP.  They were planted on return, and several trees now four years old produced flowers six years ahead of normal schedule.  Scientists are baffled.
  • Apocalypse Near?  There are signs that China's property and stock markets will soon collapse.  This could well be the Year of the Panda Bear Market.  Again, very much worth your reading while.
  • Sales Plunge.  As predicted, the 60% increase in the Japan sales tax (from 5% to 8%) on April 1 is seriously affecting sales.  Major department stores have already experienced a 25% drop.
  • The United Nations climate panel is beginning to consider Plan B, geoengineering, to prevent global warming.  It was almost six years ago that I suggested so in one of my Huffington Post articles.  Sure, this sounds like the ravings of a mad scientist, but Plan A--voluntary slashing of carbon dioxide--is NOT WORKING!  We might not ever have to take that step, but it makes sense to develop possible strategies if Plan B becomes the only solution.  Oh, Al Gore is giving a talk on the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus on April 15 at 7PM.
Tropical Cyclone Ita, now at 85 MPH, is weakening, and will make landfall north of Cairns, pass west  of the city, then return to the ocean to brush Townsville further south:


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