Tokyo Dust Storm
Sunday, March 10th was a very warm and windy day. The wind brought with it clouds of gritty yellow sand from China, called “kousa” in Japanese. Large dust storms in China’s Gobi Desert often cover Beijing, and the wind sometimes carries it to Japan. The dust also often makes it around the world on the jet stream, depositing fine sediment on cars as far away as Europe. It’s not a new phenomenon here, but I had never seen it so bad in Tokyo as it was on Sunday 10th. My eyes stung from the blowing grit and visibility on the streets was so bad it looked like how Beijing looks on television. The sky was yellow, like a big piece of yellow cellophane suspended over the city.
After I finished my work for the day in early afternoon I rode the bus home. I heard a couple of passengers across the aisle from me saying “It looks like China!” I thought maybe they were Chinese tourists remarking on the similarity of traffic or cityscape to their homeland. But that didn’t explain why they were speaking in Japanese. It was only when I got off the bus that I realized the weather condition. After getting home and changing clothes I had to go out to return a DVD to the Tsutaya rental shop. (Mirror, Mirror, starring Julia Roberts. I hated it.) But it was so gritty outside that I felt compelled to wear a face mask to keep dust out of my lungs. Along the way I saw shopkeepers dusting their wares inside their stores because the dust just got everywhere. The layer of grit was visible on parked cars.
Thanks to the wind the weather quickly changed and grew much colder from what it was in the morning. It continued howling around our building all through the evening.