On Saturday night I finished work and stepping out into the evening air proved to be quite an interesting experience. The day had started bright, clear and windy… really windy. During the afternoon I noticed the smell of dust coming through the office. I thought the place just needed a vacuum. By the evening the atmosphere was quite foggy, but more like a dirty, greyish yellowish fog. Looking up, the sky was clear and moonlit, but the view of the castle from the station was almost completely obscured by the fog.

Yep, it was a dust-storm, blown across from China by the strong winds of the morning. It was certainly the worst I had ever seen it in the five years I’ve been in Japan. The smell got in everywhere and while it was annoying, it wasn’t unpleasant. I feel sorry for all the severe allergy sufferers though; this time of year id the worst for pollen in Japan and so the dust must make it truly a horrible expereince.

Here are a couple of links to pictures from 2001 and an ABC discussion from 2004 which shed some light on the situation. One frightening aspect is the level of heavy metals and pollutants that are blown across as well as the topsoil.

The last couple of days have been rainy though, so that should settle things down, for now anyway.