An alternative look at life in the Land of the Rising Sun, coming from its southernmost prefecture, the island of Okinawa.
Posted By Dave on July 8th, 2014


Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying.  It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though!  But after a couple of months of being back in England […]


Archive for March, 2010

Project Washing Machine revealed

Posted By Dave on March 23rd, 2010


Since Project Washing Machine was first mentioned a few days ago, anticipation has been building and the questions have come thick and fast.  Some people have offered guesses, with one rather disappointed when I told them it wasn’t a new way to make my clothes even cleaner (or maybe just “clean” is the better word).  And I wanted to extend the anticipation a little longer as I didn’t mention that Japan had a long weekend which included Monday.  But now the waiting is over and it’s time to reveal my new little project…

When you think “washing machine” some people think of laundry.  But those who are into cars know that a washing machine is a nickname for the Wankel rotary engine, found in the Mazda RX-7.  And those people who know me and this site can probably guess which of those I have decided to be my project!  So, a few weeks ago I decided to invest in a little toy, I would like to present to you all now.

So here we have a turbocharged 1991 Mazda RX-7 (model number FC3S).  This car came pretty damn cheap, and there is a very good reason for this.  Usually I buy cars only for them to go wrong and me have to repair them.  Have decided to cut out the middle man here and buy a car that is already broken!  Well, insomuch that it won’t actually start.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been troubleshooting and this is what I’ve found.


The car will not start on its own.  The starter cranks the engine but it just doesn’t fire.  If you spray starter spray into the engine it will fire up and keep started until the spray is all burnt out and then it dies again and won’t start back up.  The car is getting spark and is obviously getting air.  So in the spark + air + fuel equation of what a car needs, the only other thing to check was whether it was getting fuel.RX-7-11.jpg

Fuel is getting into the fuel lines, and the fuel pump works, but there is no pressure at all building up in the fuel lines.  I’ve even had the fuel hose that comes off the fuel filter going directly into a pressure gauge just trying to ram pressure into it but nothing is reading out.  So I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s either something in the fuel pump assembly or a blockage in the fuel lines between the tank and the fuel filter.  Am going to borrow the former this week so fingers crossed I might be able to pin down exactly what is the problem.

“Why have you bought another car?” I hear some of you asking.  Well, there’s a few answers to be honest.  Firstly, the guy who owned this car was simply going to take it to the junkyard to get rid of it, as he had enough on his hands with his other car.  I had no interest in it until I passed by his place and saw it one day.  There is no way that this should be scrapped just to have parts ripped off it.  Secondly, I’m pretty confident I can get this thing back up and running again.  I’m sure if I can nail the problem, it should be a relatively straightforward fix.  The reason nobody picked this car up before me is that the rotary engine can be a little intimidating for some people.  But I’m sure the problem here doesn’t lie with the engine itself.


Once the car is up and running I can then decide whether I’ll keep it or sell it on as a running car.  I’m thinking the former, but it will have to be a fun “weekend” car, as the rotary engines aren’t really renowned for their fuel economy, and I can imagine that sitting in traffic on a Monday morning on the journey to work I’m going to be able to see the fuel gauge slowly dropping!  The disadvantage to that is that I’ll have to pay for another car to be taxed and insured, but the advantage is that I’ll be able to have a little more fun with it.  Out would go anything I don’t need (a/c, air pump, some of the rat’s nest of vacuum lines to start with), and the car could be simplified and built up to whatever I want.  Plus there is a huge advantage in that if the car has a problem and won’t start, then I’m not going to be worrying about getting a bus to work and around, as I have been whenever the Evo or Alto has been down.

The car is in pretty impressive condition, with just a few rust spots that can be dealt with once it’s moving under its own power.  After that it will just need some TLC and taking care of and it should be a great little car.  Will help to get me back into the car game too, just as one of my good friends will be coming back to Okinawa and looking to get a GT-R.  If he does I won’t be close to that but I’ll still be able to have a little fun.


Will be writing a lot more about this soon, but all that’s left is for me to give huge thanks to Josh and Steve, who’ve given me a bunch of help so far with the car, and who I owe big things to.  Let me know what you think of Project Washing Machine!

Posted in Cars

Okinawa Hit by China Dust

Posted By Dave on March 21st, 2010

Woke up this morning to find a haze over the hills in Southern Okinawa.  Put it down to a little cooler air and some mist to start the day.  But the mist didn’t lift and if anything got worse throughout the day.  Finally got home this evening with a hell of a sore throat to find the cause of this haze was our friends from the north in China.  The BBC is reporting that dust storms from Northern China have engulfed Beijing and covered an area of 313,000 square miles on Saturday.  However, it now looks like winds have pushed the dust as far south as Okinawa.  Everything was covered in a light dust at the end of the day and driving home at night was like driving in fog.

I’ve heard about these dust storms coming to Japan before but in over 5 years this is the first time I’ve experienced it this bad here.  Left the windows open here this morning when I left the house so have come back to a dusty apartment.  Have now got the A/C on full blast trying to clean the air in this place.  Really hoping it dies down tomorrow – am not liking this one bit

Has anyone else in Okinawa or mainland Japan seen this, or experienced it before?

Coming soon… Project Washing Machine

Posted By Dave on March 18th, 2010

This one is being kept a little close to my chest with only a select few people knowing about it.  It’s a new personal project that I’m undertaking which might prove to be a winner and could get me back in the game, so to speak.  That’s all I’m going to say for now but all will be revealed this weekend on Big in Japan…

Nukes in Japan… they’re “Regrettable”

Posted By Dave on March 10th, 2010


Another world news story involving Japan hit the streets in the past 24 hours and made me smile.  As soon as I read the headline “Japan confirms secret pact on US nuclear transit“, I knew that somewhere in the story would be the word “regrettable”, in quotation marks and offered by a Japanese government member.  The only surprise was that I ad to get halfway through the article before I saw it.

Now the fact that there have been nukes in the air & oceans around Japan is no secret at all, and possibly some have touched Japanese soil, despite what their “non-nuclear principles” declare.  These nukes have always been linked to the US military presence here in Japan, which many anti-US protesters will use as ammunition.  But the fact is that the Japanese government has agreed to these things, and have just kept it hidden from public view until now.  The protesters may use this to attack the incumbent Democratic Party of Japan, as most of them have alliances to the Liberal Democratic Party, which held power almost constantly for half a century.

I’ve said it before, but the use of “regrettable” is a favourite of Japanese government officials.  It is used to say something is bad but without actually apologising for anything.    For example, I could say “It is extremely regrettable that I was caught speeding” (which I haven’t been, by the way!).  So the incident is a bad one, but I’m not actually sorry I did it.  And that latter part is the key with the common Japanese way of using it.  It could be a little different here as the DPJ actually started this nuclear investigation, but is also saying that they as the current ruling party have no intentions at all of apologising for this.

Encouraging to see a little more transparency in Japan, although I feel it’s more to do with the fact that the previous political party was involved in it, rather than some national movement.

Doctor in Okinawa Decides the Diving Rules Should Change

Posted By Dave on March 2nd, 2010

I heard about this a couple of weeks ago but only found the story recently.  It not something I wanted to comment on without seeing myself but now it’s here for all and sundry to take a look at.  Those in the diving community know that multiple dives per day are allowed by all major diving organizations in the world, with most people doing 2 or 3 dives per day.  There are considerations to take into account when planning multiple days per day and/or multiple days of diving, but as long as you adhere to these instructions then you are pretty much going to be fine.

Well it looks like an Okinawan doctor has decided he wants to turn the recreational diving world on its head, as you can see.

Forum educates doctors on diver decompression sickness

Date Posted: 2010-02-11

A noted medical doctor who specializes in diver’s decompression sickness warned “if divers dive three times in one day, and continue two or three days in a row, divers will get sick with decompression sickness” during a forum at Ishigaki City’s Civil Hall.

Doctor Masato Uehara, who works with the Prefectural Hospital in the Yaeyama District, was keynote speaker at the forum on ocean leisure.  He says many divers don’t recognize decompression sickness, pointing out that between 1997 and 2009 he treated nearly 100 patients with decompression sickness at the hospital.  The frightening part, he pointed out, was that roughly 80% of the patients were experienced divers or diving instructors.

“Divers believe in their computers for diving too much, or the manuals,” he says.  He called for more caution and common sense, noting a 56-year-old tourist form mainland Japan who dived three times in a single day.  When she tried diving on the fourth day, after her first dive her legs and hands became numb and she couldn’t walk.  A bit later, as she walked again, she dived again. By that night, her hands and legs were again numb, so she visited the hospital where he had to treat her for decompression sickness.

Dr. Uehara says decompression sickness can only be treated with high oxygen treatment machines. He called the treatment “drastic measures for the sick” and encouraged divers to be more careful.

Source: Japan Update

If any of you out there are divers your reaction is probably similar to “What the…”.  So a doctor (although how he is “noted” I have not been able to find as there is very little mention of him in English or Japanese online) at a relatively small hospital out in Ishigaki has now said that if you dive three times a day for 2 days then you will get decompression sickness.  Note that this doesn’t say your chance of catching decompression sickness will increase (which is possible, hence the increased care in multiple diving days) but that it will happen without a doubt.  And his evidence is treating under 100 people over a 13 year period.

There is also no evidence that it is the multiple diving days that have caused this (or it is not stated in this article, and I’m going to hazard a guess that there is no concrete evidence).  Kind of reminds me of the Brass Eye special all those years back: “This is scientific fact.  There’s no real evidence for it, but it is scientific fact”.  I will agree that people believe in their computers too much for diving, so will give him that.  Although diving to the tables is pretty much safe as houses as long as you know how to use them (which is becoming less the way of the world with PADI’s endless dumbing down of the theory part of the RDP).

I would say much bigger contributions to diving would be people who have to have their gear carried all the way to the entry point by an instructor as they are unable to don it themselves, being people who dive once a year on their trip down to from Tokyo to Okinawa and try to cram as much diving into their time as possible, leaving minimal saturation time before their flight back, and those who light up a cigarette or open a can of Orion beer before they’ve taken their BCD off following a dive.  Should note that all of those are pretty common occurrences here in Okinawa.

Or maybe I’m wrong and people all over the world should be cancelling dive trips and only doing one day of diving at a time.  What do you think?

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