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Showing posts from December, 2013

Top 10 Albums - 2013

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So, it's that time again; sift through this year's new music and lovingly, ruthlessly select my vital 10. Yeah, couldn't do it. There's been a lot of amazing stuff to listen to this year and, though I tried I couldn't even get close to 10. Here's my top 15 for 2013. As usual, in one particular order. Oh yeah, and there's 2 albums that technically are from 2012... I didn't get to them (nor they to me) until the beginning of this year so, with no apologies, they are included here.
15. Jake Bugg – Shangri La Rick Rubin proves to be a good fit, and has helped work Bugg's spiky skiffle into something a bit more vital than last year's promising debut. No huge leap musically perhaps, but more than compensated for by sheer song-writing verve.







14. Bill Callahan – Dream River Bill Callahan and his wonderfully inventive lo-fi underground rock, seems to have been around forever, without making that much of an impression on me (certainly not in the guise of Smog…

Hot jinja

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So, I took a stroll around my local shrine and the surrounding area one beautiful morning last week. You know, it never ceases to amaze me how we all (me included) consistently take for granted the beauty and splendour that surrounds us. I must have hurried through here a hundred times on my way to somewhere or something the importance of which now completely (thankfully) escapes me, and not once have I stopped to enjoy the charms of this part of my town.

The interesting thing for me is that, in tourist terms, my town is nothing special. It's no Kyoto or Nara or Kamakura; nor is it a Kobe or Yokohama or Kanazawa; it's not even a Mito or Sendai or Sapporo. It's not flooded with tourists, or inundated with young and beautiful revellers. It's not even full of shoppers looking for a bargain or something new. It is, however, my home and, without doubt, it's absolutely bursting with charm and allure, and colour and light, and the vibrant texture of the community it holds.…

Fuji-san set 2

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So, on Sunday afternoon, a combination of a stunningly clear day and a stunningly noisy family sent me off again to watch the sunset at my local Mount Fuji viewpoint. It was also in my mind to take a better set of photos than I did last time which, frankly, wouldn't have been hard. I have to say, I'm quite pleased with the results. Well worth the wait in the icy westerly I had to endure to get them.







Mito - flying visit

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So, we had another outing last week. Again tennis was the main event, and again the taxi driver's reward was a chance to scout about with the camera. This time we were in Mito and the sports park there is just a short walk from the Senba Lake area and the famous Kairakuen Park.

We (Haruki and I) didn't have a whole lot of time, with Hana getting a bit of a spanking in the 2nd round, but we did have enough for a quick visit to Gokoku shrine, an even briefer chat with the swans by the lakeside, and a brisk walk back through the main garden.

The autumn leaves were just about done, and of course it was way too early to catch the plum blossoms for which the garden is famed, but that meant we had the place virtually to ourselves and, anyway, it was the sort of day that drives away all thoughts except those making us feel glad to be alive. 19° C in December was a welcome surprise, especially after getting up at an icy 5am.












Fuji-san set

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So, come sundown, I stepped away from the noisy family for a few minutes to catch my breath. It was a little bit hazy I knew, but I headed to Honkakuji anyway; it's close and it's the most peaceful place within walking distance. By far. And then there's the view...