Thanking my lucky stars today that the dreaded many kilometers long traffic jam didn't materialize on the drive back from Karuizawa. Predictions were for 30 - 40 long jams, but maybe we just left the piney woods early enough to avoid the traffic. Nothing more than a 6 km jam at the Nerima (north part of Tokyo) exit.
Found an interesting article in the news today about Google's maps of Tokyo and how the old maps shown under the overlays of the current day maps clearly outlined the old Buraku communities of Old Edo (former name for Tokyo). The Buraku was a caste of society in olden Japan that handled the so called "unclean" jobs such as butchers (remember, Japan was a Buddhist nation and not meat eaters in the old days), leather workers, undertakers; all the jobs associated with death. Even though the fedual caste system was abolished in 1871 discrimination continued, and in fact, still continues (although well hidden) in modern day Japan. See the article about the map overlays in today's online edition of the Japan Times.
Did you know that Japan's curent population of 128 milion is projected to be around 100 million (and some say 80 million) by 2050 - only 41 years from now. More than 1/3 of that population will be over 65 years old! Taking it out another 50 years (reckon I won't be around to see that) the projection is for 55-65 million and well over half of those will be 65 or older. See a good article about the declining youth population here.
Ever wonder who's gonna take care of all those old folks? Can you say, "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto?" An article in the NY Times tells the story.
Of course, not every elderly person likes the idea of a robot taking care of them. At least, not according to this Reuters Article.
Ah well, guess at least The Heart can continue well into the future as long as we can program Asimo to type it! At least he (is Asimo a "he?") dances better than me!