For this episode of Aiba Manabu (相葉マナブ), I am happy to report that the topic is not related to edibles, but rather something that we all have to deal with and could benefit from learning more about – rain:

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In the classroom, Aiba-kun is ready for action with umbrella in-hand as the chief notes that Japan has exceptionally heavy rainfall. The main task for the episode is apparently to figure out why Japan gets so much rain.

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Aiba-kun’s buddies this time were the the ever-present Sawabe Yuu-san as well as frequent guest Cunning Takeyama-san

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Their instructor this time is, of course, a local weather reporter – Yoda Tsukasa-san. He’s got a pretty nifty room with a beautiful globe set up for them, too.

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Their first goal is to understand weather maps – the isobaric maps with weather fronts indicated.

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Do the high pressure zones indicate areas where rain is likely or unlikely? It so happens I took a climatology class in college, so I had no trouble playing along in this episode, but I’ll make sure not to give anything away just in case you want to play along, as well. Aiba-kun thinks there’s a high likelihood of rain in the high pressure area.

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And the really nifty part of the room is the rainfall chamber. So, if they believe a situation is one in which rain will form, they take an umbrella into the chamber. Otherwise, they don’t. In this case, if high pressure zones get rain, there will be water falling from the ceiling in the rainfall chamber.

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Aiba-kun takes an umbrella in.

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Of course, this game because is asymmetric. In other words, it’s always better to take an umbrella into the rainfall chamber because that way you stay dry even if you’re wrong. If you’re wrong and you don’t take an umbrella, you get wet. It’s not a flaw, though, because that’s the way it works in real life.

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There’s some discussion of record heat – 40.9 degrees Celsius is 105.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It was hotter than that here in the Central Valley last Saturday (weather.com had the high at 109), so weather-wise, I’d rather be in Japan. I tend to prefer colder weather, anyway.

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Yoda-san goes through the water cycle with a cute graphic. College textbooks should use that graphic instead of the bland ones they usually have.

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Next, they got to play around with bottles containing liquids with a little airflow controller attached.

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The way Aiba-kun looks at it makes for a great screenshot:

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This is just a demonstration of the relationship between temperature and pressure. Hopefully we all know PV=nRT or the Boltzmann constant version – PV=NkT. The point is that if you keep volume constant, and increase the pressure (which they’ll do with those controllers at the top of the bottles), the temperature also increases.

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The high temperature leads to evaporation, but the carrying capacity of hot air is high. A release of pressure, however, leads to cooling and cloud formation.

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These are just the cutest droplets ever:

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This graphic shows that Japan gets about twice the world average rainfall, but I once again have trouble with the statistics presented on this show. You see, the data is from 1976 to 2005, and I’m again left wondering why they couldn’t have gotten more recent statistics. I also don’t think all the world’s countries were accurately represented, as some countries that lacked thirty years of reliable data were probably thrown out. More modern data from the World Bank show Japan with 1,668, but Bangladesh with 2,666, Bhutan with 2,200, Colombia with 2,612, Costa Rica with 2,926, Fiji with 2,592, Guyana (for a long time considered the rain leader) with 2,387, Liberia with 2,391, and Malaysia with a whopping 2,875. There were many others that also beat out Japan – I didn’t exhaust the list – but none of them appeared on the chart. In reality, Japan is probably around the mid-2os in rainfall rank, not fourth as the chart suggests.

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With that data and the water cycle in mind, they try to look at the globe to figure out why Japan gets so much rain.

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Ah, the Westerlies – the reason why flights going from west to east at latitudes from 30 to 60 are faster than flights going from east to west, among other things:

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Actually, this is a very thorough discussion of climate basics. I was very impressed with Yoda-san, who stuffed this episode with information. And it was pretty clear that Aiba-kun, Sawabe-san, and Takeyama-san all understood his explanations.

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And you’ve got to love the little cartoons, too.

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They even explain weather fronts with some mean looking clouds.

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They once again have to play the game of trying to figure out what the weather indicated by a map will be like, and Takeyama-san and Sawabe-san predict clear skies. Aiba-kun goes with the umbrella again (which, as I’ve already said, is always the wise choice). Who’s right?

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They get suited up for some serious weather . . .

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. . . and take a look at special rain-resistant gear.

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Naturally, their job is to test the gear out, which is why they’re in the special suits. There’s only one umbrella, though, and they have to do janken to decide who gets it. The other two will have to test the shoes and the notebook+pen.

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And just for kicks, Yoda-san sticks them in a wind tunnel at the end, where they end up facing winds of over 40 miles per hour (probably far over, but we don’t get a constant look at the reading).

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This was an excellent episode of Aiba Manabu. Aiba-kun and his companions had some fun activities and were engaged throughout the episode. The information presented by Yoda-san was the focus of the show, and the stars of the show were the brilliant graphics and animations, which made Yoda-san’s points reasonably clear even to non-Japanese speakers. To the intended Japanese audience, this was probably the best explanation of climate basics possible in half an hour.

Aiba Manabu strikes me as a good show for kids to watch. It’s been clean, as far as I can tell, and it’s informative in a fun way. I don’t know if Yoda-san went too quickly for Japanese kids to follow along with or not, though.

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