Tokyo rain season, a tectonic query, Russian vastness, and a non-stop sunset!

June in Tokyo is rain season.

We’d been warned, and figured we’d pack a brolly in our suitcases and would be sorted, but… oh my gush! I was not expecting it to be raining cats and dogs non-stop all day and night without letting up for a minute.

As ever, we were here on business, and, as ever, I needed my mandatory portion of tourism. But there was no chance of that with all the incessant torrential rain. Oh my grrrr.

Thankfully, we did get some Japanese rest and relaxation in before the rain began. We drove somewhere in the direction of Hakone, holed ourselves up in a ryokan, and immersed our travel-weary bodies in the onsen waters. Add to that a steady flow of Kirin and Sapporo, and later into the evening a few drams of both hot and cold sake (and Hibiki too) with a delightful nectarine chaser, and it all added up to wonderful way to wind down. But I’ll tell you more about that in another post.

Back to today (a few days ago). Mercifully it was weekday, so we didn’t really mind the rain.

I don’t remember rain in Tokyo to be so intense and unrelenting. I thought back to the last time I was here in June, but couldn’t recall. So I looked it up. Yep, it was in 2010. Wow, it was during one of my marathon globetrots: Moscow – Sao Paulo – Iguacu – Buenos Aires – Bogota (btw, this was the time that Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull erupted and hardly any planes were flying) > London > Hong Kong > Hanoi > Ho Chi Minh City > Barcelona > Corfu > Sydney > Surfers Paradise > Uluru > Larnaca > Tokyo > Paris (Le Mans) > Moscow.

…But I digress.

Anyway – back then in June in Tokyo… ok, there was some rain, but no cats and dogs of rain!

The Japanese capital resembled St. Petersburg in November: low cloud, murkiness, awfulness; mood-spoiler. Makes you want to raid the mini-bar, and sit on the window ledge à la Lost in Translation. Which is what I did…

During said raid on mini-bar, one of the snacks in there caught my attention:


Mauna Loa is a volcano on Hawaii (rather – one of the volcanoes that forms Hawaii), and it has absolutely nothing in common with nuts. My digressing again? Actually, not really. It reminds me of a puzzler that’s been troubling me for years…

Now, everyone knows that Hawaii is the result of movements of tectonic plates – where a plate moved over a hotspot over millions of years. Volcanoes sprang up (accordingly, over millions of years) in a line as the plate moved over the hotspot; they eventually erupt, and what’s left behind are new islands.

In the pic below you can see the string of submerged islands running under the Pacific in a line. Hawaii itself is made up of (relatively) fresh volcanoes, and the more northwest you go the older the volcanoes are – eventually becoming collapsed volcano calderas, aka atolls, and later sinking under the ocean.

Ok. In that line above, can you see how it turns suddenly – northward – about halfway along it, and rises up to Kamchatka (and slips under the North American Plate (this is called subduction, btw))?

Ok, now here’s my question that’s been teasing my brain for years:

What happened all those years ago that made a tectonic plate change direction? I mean, can you begin to imagine the force necessary? What catastrophe changed the flow direction of the underlying magma?

It was 3.5 thousand kilometers ago, btw. With the speed of movement of the plate above the hot point – that’s how many million years?

So. What happened? And why didn’t everyone and everything die?


Er, now for something completely different!…

I forgot to mention: in summer on air routes that go from west to east, they don’t fly at night. You take off in the evening during a sunset – but it doesn’t get dark! You follow the sunset round the globe. Like!

Meanwhile down below:

Where are these snowy peaks folks?…

…It’s central Russia; here on the map:

Hmmmm. You often hear of the endless expanses of middle-Russia, but never can really get a hold on the actual magnitude involved… – until, that is, you see some of it from up in a plane during an endless sunset!…

Oh my gigantic! Truly hypnotic. I want more!…

…But a bit later we were already over northern China and beginning our descent to Tokyo.

Mount Fuji:

That’s all for today folks. But I’ll be back with more tales from the rising-sun side tomorrow…