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The blue Earth looks like a “jewel in total darkness,” astronaut Koichi Wakata told students from his old elementary school in Saitama.

The radio exchange from the International Space Station astronaut apparently inspired the pupils chatting with him Wednesday at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo, with Prime Minister Taro Aso also participating in the event.

Wakata talked about his work at the ISS and how space looks from it. Asked how the Earth looks, Wakata said he was impressed by the glittering lights of urban areas on the dark side and likened the scene to a jewel glittering in space.

As for the bright side of the Earth, where he can view oceans, deserts and forests, Wakata said he “feels the power of nature,” adding that the two different faces present an interesting contrast.

Asked by Aso how he spends his free time, Wakata said he either reads or gazes. “I usually watch the Earth from a Kibo window or read books,” he said, referring to the Japanese laboratory module on the ISS.

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