放射能

Foreigners still confused that Tokyo-ites love wearing face masks

mask_ad_senior_sidewalk_shinjuku

四月は外国人がたくさん日本に旅行しにきます。「なぜ日本人はマスクを使いますか。放射能が怖いのですか」とみんな私に聞きます。他の国では、病院で働く人たちしか使いません。

April is a month that attracts many foreign visitors. Again, I am asked in hushed tones, are Japanese wearing masks because of Fukushima and fears of nuclear fallout? Anyone who lives here knows it’s allergy season, and many people wear them out of a combination self-treatment and courtesy to others. Masks, normal and even polite in Japan, are perhaps the most common form of exotic costume when seen by foreigners.

Planted mint on balcony during nuke crisis

切り花としてもらったミントが根をのばして、育ちました。ミントの強い匂いはぼくたちを放射能から守ってくれるでしょうか。

Two weeks after the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear crisis, I looked at the thick roots growing at the base of the mint cuttings, and wondered what to do. I waited several days.

The first week, the Fukushima nuclear plant’s reactors, 220 kilometers to the north, had a series of spectacular hydrogen explosions. The second week the reactors assumed the role of toxic volcanoes, venting and spraying. The third week, we mostly hear about leakage and contamination into the land and sea.

In the second week, fearful of the rain, I harvested all of my snap and snow peas. In retrospect, this seems unduly cautious. Until now there’s been no evidence of dangerous radiation levels in Tokyo, so I finally decided to plant the mint in the balcony garden.

I considered making one giant clump, but then decided it might be more fun and more fragrant to spread it around the length of the garden. Since it’s a small garden, I need to combine ornament, scent and function. Wondering if I should make mint tea, or mojitos when they bush out?

realized that the mint cuttings were getting thick with roots sitting in the glass of water in the kitchen.