Soon after I arrived in Tokyo yesterday, a major earthquake (7.1 on the Richter scale), hit the area. I felt our hotel shake, but was completely unharmed; my fiancee actually slept through the whole experience. Tomorrow morning, a typhoon is expected. As a rationalist and an atheist, I have to assume that these events are just coincidental. Certainly, both earthquakes and typhoons are relatively common in this part of the world. Still, the close proximity of these events to my arrival might lead some to suspect that the Shinto gods don't welcome my presence in the Land of the Rising Sun. Typhoons supposedly inspired by the gods helped save Japan from two thirteenth century Mongol invasions. Perhaps the gods view my own invasion as a comparable threat to Japanese civilization.
Despite the possible divine displeasure, I have now ended my blogging hiatus, and will try to write more posts from Japan and later Korea as time allows. Korea-based readers might be interested to know that I will be presenting a paper on federalism and "voting with your feet" at the the Korean Institution and Economics Association International Conference on August 19th.