Trip Gallery

Took a short trip to middle Hokkaido the last two days. Great weather, good food, nice Onsen’s and quality family time. Although the spring feeling is in the air and the temperatures have gone up the snow on the high mountains is still amazingly good. Asahidake had a great layer of powder and the mountain was empty! I took only one run in the late afternoon on the 4:40pm gondola and I was still able to ride powder all the way down! Seriously no tracks all the way down! What is going on?


Genpatsu-kun updates

So articles and info from the Facebook feed “Fukushima Reactor Feed” Pick and choose what you want to read, personally I have been reading everything I can find and learning a lot.

Excerpt from NHK online 3/30 05:20:
On the 29th lights were restored to the control room of #4 reactor. In the control room of #1 power was connected to data display panels and they are now able to display readings for some instruments.
Work is continuing in earnest to restore cooling capabilities. Work is slowed however due to water found to contain high levels of radioactive material found both within, and outside structures.
The high surface radiation levels found from the water in the “trench” (a tunnel to connect pipes etc) outside #2 turbine structure are very close to those found within the turbine structure. TEPCO considers there to be a high probability that it comes from same source as the water found within the turbine structure.
In regard to #1 reactor, the “trench” is connected to the 1st floor of the turbine structure and it is improbable that water was drained into it. It is more probable that the water is seawater left by the tsunami.
If there are no problems found after analysis of the water by TEPCO, one option under consideration is to release the water out to sea.
At this moment there has been no developments on removal of the water from the basements of turbine structures from #1 to #3 reactors.
The water is considered to be coming from the reactors (core?). As the route of the leak has not been identified yet, there is a possibility of amounts increasing.
TEPCO is currently looking for a place to store the water, and methods to remove radioactive material from it. It is unknown if regular methods will remove the higher amounts, and processing the water is now an emerging problem.

Excerpt from Yomiuri Shimbun 3/30 05:37:
The government is reassessing the development of 14 new nuclear reactors which were included in the 2030 goals of the “Basic Energy Plan”.
New basic plans are considered to focus on sources such as solar energy instead of nuclear plants. Long extensions and cancellations of new reactor construction is unavoidable.
PM Kan responded to the Upper House Budget Committee that “It is necessary to re-discuss Japan’s energy measures and clean energy such as solar power.” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Kaieda stressed at a news conference ” The Basic Plans cannot be carried out in the same manner. What to do about energy measures must be discussed by the whole government.”

ituation continues to be grave at TEPCO Fukushima plant reactors #1-4.

Although the Chairman of TEPCO has made objectives to decommission the 4 reactors, the urgent issues are reactor cooling and the removal of massive amounts of contaminated water. An extended period will be necessary to decommission the reactors and an expert pointed out “It will take decades of work before a complete conclusion.”

 Short Term Issues

The most pressing concern is the huge volume of contaminated water. Approximately 13,000 tons of contaminated water are expected to be held in the “trench” tunnels alone. A large unknown amount must also be removed from the turbine structures.
Once the contaminated water has been removed, the way is open to restoring the reactors cooling capabilities. However at this point, the water is blocking access to external power cables which connect to reactor control equipment.

It can also be supposed that due to high interior radiation levels blocking instrumentation repairs and incapability of water removal may halt power restoration.
If leakage continues, temporary holding tanks will not be adequate for water storage. These are the circumstances behind officials opining that “A new holding tank must be secured immediately”.

If water removal is successful, in order to prevent large amounts of raioactive material escaping and acheive secure status the reactor must be in the state of “cold shutdown”.
According to Professor Sugiyama of the Hokkaido Unversity “Once exterior power to circulate water and cooling is restored to normal, it will take 1-2 days to acheive a cold shutdown”. In order to decommission the reactor the fuel must be cooled down in order for removal, which will take decades.

If, however water is continually pumped into the reactors with provisional pumps, the situation will continue to become more serious. Ex assistant professor Ebina of the Kyoto University Reactor Research Department evaluates “The reactor fuel will slowly cool, but it will take months to acheive a cool shutdown.”. Total water injection volume will increase, as will the amount of contaminated water in this scenario.

  Long Term Issues

It will take decades for the reactors to be completely decommissioned. A reactor in Ibaraki (Tokai Nuclear Power Plant) was the first commercial reactor in Japan to be decommissioned. It was taken out of service in 1998, and work is continuing in a series of steps until 2021.

The decommisioning starts with removing the fuel waiting for the radiation levels to decrease. During this time parts of the installation with lower levels of radiation are disassembled , and finally the reactor core containment vessel is cut free and buried deep underground. At this time they are still working on removal of heat-exchangers on the Tokai plant.

It is in question however if regular methods may be adhered to for disassembly in the case of reactors with damaged structures and reactors in Fukushima.
Ex-chairman of NISA Matsuura states “Contamination reduction efforts will be very difficult in this case. It will probably take a span of 20-30 years for the reactors to be completely decommissioned.”

3/31 09:21 Yomiuri Shimbun

By Drake Bennett

Even as the world’s attention remains fixed on the radiation leaking from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear reactor complex, many Japanese companies are beginning to reconcile themselves to another legacy of the Great Tohoku earthquake: lack of power. Along with thousands of lives and billions of dollars in property, the Mar. 11 quake and tsunami destroyed 21,000 megawatts of electrical generating capacity—roughly 10 Hoover Dams’ worth.

The energy drought is being felt most severely not in the relatively rural Tohoku region, where the tsunami did its greatest damage, but in Kanto just to the south of it. It’s the nation’s most populous region, with Tokyo at its heart, and the six now-infamous reactors of Fukushima Dai-Ichi generated a little under a tenth of its energy. Tokyo Electric Power has put most of the Kanto region under a schedule of rolling blackouts. When people turn on their air conditioners come summer—a season that usually taxes the region’s power grid—the gap between electricity demand and supply is only going to widen. Dealing with that won’t be easy: Japan is already among the world’s most energy-efficient countries.

Uncertainty worsens the situation. Some days, Tepco has enough power to meet demand; other times it schedules blackouts on extremely short notice. Affected companies are still figuring out how to respond, but the longer the situation continues, the greater the consequences. Analysts at Barclays Capital (BCS) estimate that planned blackouts and other energy conservation measures will end up shrinking Japanese manufacturing gross domestic product by $60 billion in 2011. “Right now, it’s situation by situation,” says Tadashi Hisanaga, a spokesman for Hitachi (HIT). Much of the electronics giant’s production facilities are located near Japan’s east coast, in regions just north enough to have been hit by the earthquake and just south enough to depend on Tepco for electricity. As Hitachi repairs the damage from the earthquake, power is becoming the bigger problem. “It’s something we’re going to be thinking about for a long time,” he says.

Nissan Motor (NSANY) has two vehicle plants in the blackout region, producing Infiniti sports cars, the Cube subcompact, and the new Juke crossover. According to Nissan Senior Vice-President Andy Palmer, the carmaker so far has been able to work around the blackouts by rescheduling its shifts. “The reality is, today all of our vehicle factories are capable of producing cars,” he says. Reports in Japanese media say the country’s car companies have even raised the possibility of coordinating production among themselves, though nothing has been decided. According to Koji Endo, an auto industry analyst at the equity research firm Advanced Research Japan, painting a car requires extremely high heat, and getting the painting “oven” hot after a loss of power can take hours—lost time when cars aren’t being made.

Computer chip fabrication needs a steady power source to keep the delicate procedure at the right temperature, to maintain the proper air pressure in clean rooms, and to provide enough water. Losing power in the middle of the process can destroy a whole batch of chips. The chip giant Renesas has two of its main fabrication plants in Kanto, and together with a third plant they make up nearly a third of the company’s global capacity. In recent weeks, Renesas has suspended production at its Kanto plants for the entire day when there is a scheduled blackout.

Then there are Japan’s beermakers. Brewing a bottle of Asahi requires 40 days of steady power to boil and cool the wort and regulate the temperature. Asahi’s Kanto brewery hasn’t been making any beer since the earthquake, and the company has had to boost production at its other breweries in Japan.

Japan’s western regions still have plenty of power, but as a legacy of regional rivalry, their electricity grid runs on an incompatible frequency: 60 hertz, vs. 50 elsewhere. Bloomberg News reported that Japanese government officials are in talks with utilities to lay new transmission lines and build massive transformers that could convert the energy and deliver it to the darkened Kanto area.

Meanwhile, millions of residents of Kanto are voluntarily cutting back. In central Tokyo, which hasn’t yet been hit by the blackouts, many buildings have turned off elevators and escalators, and stores and restaurants are closing early. The famed Tokyo Tower, bent by the earthquake, is unlit, and the riotous marquees of the electronics and anime shops of the Akihabara retail district are dimmed. The Emperor and Empress have put the Imperial Palace on the blackout schedule, and its lights go dark three hours a day. Measures such as these have saved enough energy that Tepco has been able to spare the whole Kanto region from blackouts for much of the past week. However, Japan’s bout of energy scarcity seems likely to linger for months to come.

The bottom line: Japan’s manufacturers are shifting production outside of the Tokyo area and rearranging some work schedules to deal with rolling blackouts.

With Naoko Fujimura and Ganesh Nagarajan. Bennett is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek.

By Yuji Okada and Tomoko Yamazaki

(See EXT2 for news on the nuclear crisis.)

March 30 (Bloomberg) — Fukushima Prefecture, epicenter of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, accused Japan’s central government of sowing confusion and hampering recovery efforts through poor communication.

“The people of Fukushima are worried about the situation, so make sure you’re keeping us informed of what the government is doing,” Governor Yuhei Sato said today in a heated exchange with Shingo Naito, deputy director general for industrial safety at the Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry.

Almost 5,900 people in Fukushima prefecture died or are listed as missing following the March 11 quake and subsequent tsunami, according to the National Police Agency. More than 177,000 people were evacuated from houses within 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of the Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.

Sato’s criticism was echoed by the mayor of the Fukushima city of Minami Soma, whose residents were forced to leave because of quake damage and their proximity to the crippled facility, which is leaking radiation.

“The government tells us to be ready for further evacuation orders in case of a ‘worst-case scenario,’ but I wonder what that suggests?” Minami Soma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai said in a telephone interview. “We want to get on with rebuilding our city. We just don’t have the sort of information we need from the government.”

Supplies Shortage

While essential services including water, gas and electricity are about 80 percent restored, the city remains in desperate need of food and gasoline, Sakurai said. As the government evacuated people within 20 kilometers of the plant and warned those within the next 10 kilometers to stay indoors, truck drivers stopped coming in with supplies.

“As if it wasn’t enough that we were struck by the disaster, people began treating us as if we were a highly contaminated city,” Sakurai said. Lack of fuel meant “we have to walk all the way to the edge of the evacuation zone to pick up supplies.”

Naito told Sato, who was elected as an independent in 2006, that he understood the gravity of the situation, adding that the government started taking atmospheric readings from vehicles within the exclusion zone. The exchange took place at a public meeting of the prefectural emergency task force in Fukushima city.

Radiation readings rose today in the city, which lies about 61 kilometers from the Dai-Ichi plant. The levels remain well below the equivalent of the dose from a single X-ray.

Radioactive Iodine

Seawater samples collected yesterday near an outlet south of the plant had traces of radioactive iodine 3,355 times the legal limit, Japan’s nuclear safety agency said today. The level was the highest detected to date and compared with 2,572 times the limit earlier in the day.

Fukushima had the highest level of iodine-131 among 12 prefectures contaminated by the radioactive material in tests conducted on March 28, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The level was 23,000 becquerel per square meter, compared with a reading below 50 becquerel in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, it said. Tokyo lies about 220 kilometers south of the nuclear plant.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s administration has expressed frustration with Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the damaged nuclear plant. Kan, who yesterday criticized the company’s tsunami defenses as inadequate, has pledged transparency in its handling of the crisis.

The government “has very rudimentary communication skills,” said Jun Okumura, a former trade ministry official and a consultant with the Eurasia Group in Tokyo. “They’re making their best effort at putting information out there but they’re not very good at it.”

–With assistance from Aaron Sheldrick, Bill Austin and John Brinsley in Tokyo. Editors: Bill Austin, John Brinsley

To contact the reporters on this story: Yuji Okada in Tokyo at; Tomoko Yamazaki in Singapore at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bill Austin at

New Timeline movie

Gnarly crash and bad luck turned these past weeks into a rough period for Xavier. Competitions and filming sessions didn’t go as expected.
Nevertheless, Xavier sent it during the X-treme Verbier, and finished with a nice line and a victory run at the mother of all freeride contests.
Next mission will be in Jackson Hole with Jeremy Jones to film for “Further” before heading to Alaska if snow gods wake up and deliver the precious goods.

Read and watch

A new video shot from SDF helicopter of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant. Looking at the level of destruction it is hard to believe they even know where to start cleaning up that mess.

Click here to watch.

Now read this story.

By Terril Jones

TOKYO | Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:18am GMT

(Reuters) – Hiroyuki Nishi narrowly escaped death the day the monster earthquake struck Japan two weeks ago when a 200-ton hook on a crane came crashing down a mere 6 feet from him during the convulsions.

Now, the place where he cheated death — inside reactor No. 3 at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — is the reason he can’t go home. Reactor No. 3 has been leaking high radioactivity and its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), can’t say why. Days of dousing it with water in a desperate attempt to cool its used but probably exposed fuel rods have been inconclusive. Workers who got radioactive water on their shoes were hospitalized.

The Japanese government has imposed a 20-km (12-mile) evacuation radius around the plant because of the radiation danger, and Nishi’s hometown of Minamisoma sits right on the cusp to the north. Nishi, 31, works for a contractor that did construction jobs around the nuclear power plant and inside its six reactors. On March 11, he was inside the reactor building directing a ceiling-mounted heavy-duty crane, moving scaffolding material to be taken outside. At 2:46 p.m. the quake struck with titanic force, at magnitude 9.0 the most massive earthquake Japan has ever recorded. It was as long as it was colossal, lasting more than two minutes, and also led to a huge tsunami. More than 27,000 people are dead or missing.

“I felt things shaking, and then it went crazy,” Nishi recalled in an interview. “I was shouting, Stop! Stop!” Then the lights went out, leaving about 200 workers inside the reactor in near-darkness since the structure has no windows.

A small red emergency light started blinking. “Then some kind of white smoke or steam appeared and everyone started choking,” Nishi said. “We all covered our mouths and ran for the door.” But the door leading outside was locked, shut down automatically during the temblor to contain any leakage. The workers were stuck. “People were shouting ‘Get out, get out!'” Nishi said. “Everyone was screaming.” Pandemonium reigned for about 10 minutes with the workers shouting and pleading to be allowed out, but supervisory TEPCO employees appealed for calm, saying that each worker must be tested for radiation exposure.

CRESCENDO TEPCO began testing workers but the crescendo grew. Nishi recalled angry shouts from among the workers including expletives from a couple of Canadians. “We were shouting that the reactor structure was going to collapse or that a tsunami might come,” Nishi recalled. Radiation exposure was the last thing on their minds. Eventually, TEPCO workers tested about 20 people before giving up and throwing open the doors.

The freed workers sprinted for their cars or to higher ground. Nishi ended up in his car with a co-worker who also lived in Minamisoma, about a half-hour drive away. They made it out of the nuclear plant in time to avoid the killer tsunami but were hardly prepared for the drive home. It was like a journey through an apocalyptic landscape. Traffic was jammed, and strong aftershocks made the car flail repeatedly. Nishi and his friend’s cellphones went off constantly with “earthquake-coming” alerts, and the car radio blasted frantic reports of unspeakable damage from the tsunami and warnings of further tidal inundations. They passed wrecked buildings, cars that looked as though they had tumbled from bridges, and dead horses and cows by the roadside. Several homes crumbled before their eyes from aftershocks.

Nishi couldn’t get through to his wife Azusa, 27, by phone. He was panic-stricken about not only his nine-month-old son Tsubasa at home but his 6-year-old son Hayato who was at kindergarten at the time the earthquake hit. “I was shouting at the phone: Please, please connect!” he said. Nishi and his colleague lapsed into fatalistic doomsday conversations. “We talked about three possibilities,” he said. “That our entire families had died. That some had died and some lived. Whether our houses were still there.” The thought that all family members might have survived didn’t enter into their minds. “Seeing what was happening, we just knew it wasn’t possible,” Nishi said. As they finally got to Minamisoma, it became clear that Nishi’s colleague’s home couldn’t be standing. His wife, 7-month-old son and parents making it out seemed remote. Nishi dropped his friend off and went to his own home. It was partially collapsed and in a shambles from the earthquake, but the tsunami had stopped 100 meters (yards) short of the house, which was four km (2.5 miles) inland. No one seemed to be home. Loudspeakers in town told people to head to evacuation centers; the closest one was at Kashima Middle School, the same junior high school Nishi had attended. Nishi made his way there, and at around 7:30 that night he arrived at the school — and found his family there, intact, including his mother. “I saw my wife, and I was just so, so happy,” he said, audibly choking up. “I let loose with my emotions. I kissed my kids’ faces all over; I touched their faces everywhere. I kept telling them, ‘I’m so happy you’re alive.’ There were lots of tears.” The next day Nishi went to his home and found he could squeeze in the door. He hurriedly collected a few items: warm clothes, instant noodles, bottled water.

His colleague’s parents are missing and presumed dead, but his wife and son survived. Nishi and his family have relocated to an apartment in neighboring Yamagata prefecture. He gets a government allowance for three months, but it’s only for housing. He longs to go back to his house, and retrieve precious family photos and his beloved surfboard and wetsuit.

He also has mixed feelings about his work at the nuclear plant. “I had work and got paid, so I don’t think badly of it,” he said. “But, they said over and over that it was safe. I just want to ask why.”

(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Big Thanks To Kage photo

A Big thank you to photographer Kage, who has returned to his home in the Shonan area after last weekend. He spends every winter season living out of a tent/snow cave in Niseko. Certainly one of those hardcore dedicated photographer types. We rode and shot together at the North Face tour last month. Yesterday we did a photographer photo trade. I sent him pictures I took and he sent me pictures he took of me.

I think he may have captured my very best riding photo ever! I am stoked on this picture! Thanks Kage and I hope we have the time to session together again!

Changing times

Well the 9.0 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster of March the 11th has become a very B.C./A.D. kind of event. To me it feels that important and that traumatic for the country.

From my view on the street level, I think we are starting to see the effects on the general population now. People are starting to “tune out” the “bad” news recently. It can be seem very clearly on TV, as I blogged earlier. The TV channels are showing as much normal programming as they possibly can. The problem is, nothing is “Normal” anymore. I will come out and say it straight, life is not going to be “Normal in Japan for a long time.”

I call a lot of friends in Tokyo to get a sense of the vibe down there and it is not good. People are stressed for sure. I can tell on the phone. They are trying to act normal and operate as if the world is working like it always did, B. 9.0 But lets face it, you can’t buy bottled water anywhere, tofu, natto and frozen foods as well. Gasoline is rationed, there are daily blackouts, everybody now knows words like milliservient and becquerel and Disney Land is closed! Things are not normal.

The people who are living in shelters and schools, and those on the cusp of Fukushima Daiichi, I am sure they are not tuning out the news. Why? because they ARE the news. You can’t tune out the devastation they are seeing right outside. They are just struggling to survive each day.

Yesterday, I saw a report about a small island off the coast that lost all connection with the main island for a week after the Tsunami. The whole population there survived on rain water collected from an empty swimming pool for over a week. They never got a single shipment of aid for that whole week and never even a mention on the news. They don’t have the luxury of ignoring the problems facing Japan today.

So now I am starting to wonder if Japan really has what it takes to make the changes necessary for Japan to survive in this new future or what I will now call A.9.0 (after 9.0).

Here is a good example. A short story from the LA Times.

By Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times

March 25, 2011, 3:19 p.m.

Japanese officials are considering introducing daylight saving time to help cope with severe power shortages that likely will last for months.

Japan has resisted daylight saving time for nearly 60 years, dumping the practice after the U.S. occupation ended. While Japanese politicians have attempted to bring back daylight saving time in recent years, skeptics have feared it would just keep workers in their offices longer.

But according to Kyodo News agency, Japanese industry minister Banri Kaieda said bringing back daylight saving time may help avoid major blackouts in the summer, when energy consumption peaks because of scorching temperatures.

Kaieda also suggested other policy changes that could bring discomfort to people, according to Kyodo. He suggested raising electricity charges on households and extending workers’ summer vacations — a practice that could be difficult for a society known for a strong work ethic.

The first sentence “Japanese Officials are considering”

There should be absolutely no considering in this matter! Japan must restart using Daylight Savings Time! It is of the utmost importance. There are daily blackouts in Tokyo NOW in the early spring when it is still cold. What do you think is going to happen in summer when every one turns on their air conditioning. Japan must adopt Daylight Saving Time, no debate, no bullshit. This is the greatest opportunity to instigate positive change for the future that Japan may ever have, please don’t miss it.

These are the kind of things that evacuated and homeless people don’t have the time to be thinking out. This is the kind of thing that everyone outside of the affected areas need to be working on and thinking about. I am sure they will all be happy with an extra hour of daylight as they try to rebuild their homes and their lives this summer, don’t you agree?

Now here is another article worth reading

Wall Street Journal

Click to read

A day at the park

Very nice weather day in Sapporo today, a little bit windy so the mountains had hard packed conditions. Therefore I decided to spend a day visiting Sapporo’s Takino park (free entrance through March 31st) with the family and some friends. Great choice I think.

A few photos from my “instagram” feed. Shot after leaving Takino when we stopped by the Takino Reien(cemetery) where they have these amazing “Moai” statues.

I titled this one “Japan needs this guy right now.” If this was a Hollywood movie, this would certainly be the scene where Superman makes his entrance into the story…