Showing posts from October, 2015

Kamaishi: cats and catalyst

So, I've been back to Kamaishi in Iwate a few times in the last couple of months. It's the first time I've worked in that area since I was there the year after the Great East Japan Earthquake. On my previous visit I noted that, although the clear-up was almost finished, there had been virtually no rebuild... I mean really nothing at all. It seemed that there was just no heart for it. The people I spoke to there were just so dispirited, and of course it was all too clear to see why. The scars were nowhere near being healed. The scars of the people, all touched by their great loss, and the scars of the city, which for all intents and purposes, had had it's heart ripped out.

I was hoping to see dramatic changes on these recent visits, and I did, though not as dramatic as I had hoped, and not as far-reaching as I might have supposed. The first impression is still much as it was before, though time has toned it down somewhat. The huge gaps between the bigger stronger buildin…

Mount Takao

So, in early autumn I headed up to Takao-san, a very popular mountain west of Tokyo. I've heard the name a lot over the years, but until now never managed to find the time to get out there.

I've heard that it's a nice walk, and it is... I really enjoyed the walk. I've also heard that Fuji-san is visible from the top, and it is... on a clear day. I've further heard that it there is a nice temple near the top to check out as well, and there is... and I did.

No one had ever mentioned the visitor centre, or the toilet block, or the gift shop, or the noodle shop, or the beer garden, or the well over 500 people that are also at the top of the mountain. Or the fact that Mount Takao is officially the busiest mountain in the world, attracting as it does, some 2.6 million visitors annually. I'll let you just think about that number for a second... That's an average of 7,123 people visiting its summit every day... including the day I visited (for the first and, almost c…


As you know, I do like a good sunset. This sunset, though was more interesting than it was good. Interesting for the variety of moods and colours in particular; it's difficult to believe that all the shots below were taken in the space of about 30 minutes.

That was though, pretty much a reflection of the weather that day... changeable. Despite it's lack of initial promise (the cloud), it was actually a lot of 'fun' to shoot.

Harbour sunset

It's funny how it works; some days I 'own' photography, and some days it owns me. I guess it's the same for all hobbyists and their hobbies. Sometimes you seem to have some kind of midas touch and everything clicks, and sometimes you very patently don't and it doesn't.

There have been days when I've made an early start, headed to a pretty spot, taken in the morning blue and golden hours, spent the day scoping out future locations, caught the evening golden and blue hours in another equally pretty location, and headed home after dark with barely any energy left and well over 1000 shots on the memory card. Only to bin the lot the following day when it turns out that nowhere you went, and nothing you tried 'clicked'. The only thing that clicked was your camera's shutter, over and over again, fruitlessly.

And then there are those other days... you're busy, but there's a small window of time. You're not sure about the weather, but you decid…

Oyama Senmaida

Yesterday I had a (somewhat overly-optimistic) burst of energy and, from my base in Iwai, I decided to cycle right over to the other side of the peninsula.

I was heading for Oyama Senmaida (big mountain of the 1000 rice fields... a literal translation that is, quite literally, 1000 times duller than the original Japanese) which, as everyone round these parts is way too fond of saying, is the closest terraced rice field area to Tokyo.

Each time I hear/see that I am struck by two related things; one, so what? And two, really, so what? What does it mean to have the rice terraces closest to Tokyo (in distance, not time, by the way)? And what does it mean to keep saying that you do? The answer to both these questions is of course the same. Nothing. Someone noticed once, about the proximity thing, and now everyone repeats it. And somehow, rather than being just a dull, pointless factoid, it is a defining characteristic of the feature.

I wish it were further away, not the nearest, maybe even th…