I’m exhausted but my day was just too good. I wanted to share a little of the beauty with you.
I was in Tanegashima, regrettably just for the day. The island is pristine. The people among the kindest I’ve ever met. It’s a perfect balance between modern and untouched. It’s remote location has prevented it from becoming spoiled by tourism — and if you see the beaches and get in the water you’ll wonder, like me, why it’s it’s relatively untouched.
Oh, it also houses the Japanese space program.
I am a man. I rarely ask for directions, I nod assent even when I don’t fully understand, and I endeavor to not show pain. (Imagine Hulk pose.)
I went hiking today in the wettest part of Japan in shoes one size too small, without proper gear. How did that happen? See one and two above.
Pain? The hike up was HARD. Eventually it rained and I was soaked to the skin, which made the rocks slippery on the way DOWN. My toes jammed into the front of the shoes and practically brought tears to my eyes with each step . I made friends I walked with on the way down, slipped and fell FOUR times. But I’m a guy: Skinned knees, aching feet and a twisted ankle and not a single complaint.
I’m also an online guy and I need to say #%#%%%#%#%#%##%%%#% ouch!
(The dessert is bate and switch. Would you have clicked on a post with my feet? It’s a Japanese snow cone called kakigori, btw. My next accommodation should have wifi. I’m going to try and read blogs and answer comments then.)
I have yet to see one day of sunshine this trip. I left late on Friday. As I walked to my hotel in Okayama drizzle fell which built up in intensity (as typhoons approached but never made landfall) culminating in a new kind of weather event in Japan. There is no translation. They are bands of heavy rain which dump inches in minutes causing mudslides and flash floods. That was Thursday and it was surreal.
I was touring a castle in Nagasaki-ken when a city wide siren announced it was coming. Within a minute a faucet opened over the city. If I could see it, I would have seen a river running down the road into the moats or down into the sea. The news said FIFTY centimeters fell that day.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m enjoying my vacation. Wet surfaces photograph beautifully; the sky has texture; and the people wear a different countenance.
Yesterday a new typhoon approached Japan and this morning it hit. Trains were shut down in this coastal onsen town, Ibusuki, with almost all business shuttered. My hotel had emptied the pool and sandbagged the perimeter. I decided to go out, making my way to the coast snapping pics of the clouds, of buildings, of boats bobbing in the harbor. When I sensed the rain was coming I made my way quickly to a covered arcade which leads to the train station. The full length as boarded up with branches flung about. The sky nearing black. And then the sirens sounded throughout the city. There was no message within the sound. Loud: It drowned the sound of the wind. But it wouldn’t stop — and then I knew.
This was the moment 69 years ago the bomb fell on Nagasaki.
The typhoon missed my area. The rains did fall. I did make it back to be under the station roof, but they stopped shortly after and I continued my walk up and down the streets. I arrived back at my hotel in time to photograph hawks circling over the ocean, of families walking the beach, and a fantastical sunset you’ll have to wait to see.
Tomorrow going to be sunny and I’m island hopping down to Okinawa.
One of the great cultural points in Japan is the onsen. The onsen is often translated as “hot spring”, but that is incomplete. The onsen is a place where your parents or grandparents take you as children to bond. It might be just a bath during a road trip, or part of a resort experience but the image you should hold in your mind is of people from two years old to one hundred plus relaxing together in the nude.
Think of how your individual perceptions on youth and beauty might differ if you grew up seeing, and were regularly around, the whole aging experience.
There is a culture of youth here, of creams and spas, but more than most places I’ve been there is an acceptance that one ages with grace and beauty and accepts what, in my hometown of Los Angeles, would be a cause for cosmetic intervention.
If your seeing this and it’s August and I’m on holiday, most likely onsen hopping. Enjoy these pictures of youth and beauty.
These were taken in Odaiba around midnight. The only illumination is artificial. The moon was full, but it was hidden. Two and three minute exposures pull out details that are lost in the light, or with the crowds. Think of them as a reminder of the details seemingly hidden in the dark. ;)
If you’re seeing this and it’s August I’m still on holiday and this is pre-written. :) I may not be able to reply to your comments quickly, or come to your blogs soon, but I will.
As I write this I expect to be leaving Kyoto, or possibly Shikoku, en route to Kyushyu. I wonder where I’ll actually be. Alone, a couple, or a group? About and out, or in? And how will the weather be?
These plants took root far, far, far afield from where their seeds fell.
How often are we really where we plan to be and how do we feel once we realize we’re there?
One typhoon averted, another approaches.
Since WWII the Japanese have shunned all things marshal, yet policies have been set in motion to reintroduce the military back to several generations who do not know what it means.
Welcome to Nagasaki Peace Park.
In two days Hiroshima will commemorate the first atomic bomb blast. Shortly after Nagasaki will honor the anniversary of the last atomic bomb blast. Preparations are under way — a huge dome is being erected and to either side of the monument to peace, the workers are setting up two abstract images of the paper cranes you’ll find heaped and piled all over the park. Made by children all over the world, they symbolize the hope that peace is eternal.
Greetings from my iPhone!
In the spirit of breaking out from routine I thought I’d share the apple with you, so to speak. Behold Okayama!
(I have no idea how these will appear on your computers. Let me know.)
I decided to go past Kyoto to spend some time on some islands in the Seto Sea. I alighted in Okayama when, by chance, they were gearing up for their big festival and fireworks celebration, the Momotaro Matsuri and Hanabi Taikai. (You’ll have to Google Momotaro for the full details on what this is about). Long story short, I stayed here and tomorrow I’ll most likely start off for Naoshima and Inujima.
In Tokyo people are used to people like me. Tall people. Not white, but white peoplele. Outside Kanto people stare — a lot. Your choices are to be uncomfortable, get mad, or roll with it. Let’s just say I made lots of new friend todays. :)
Oh, and I found proof that the creationists were right, after all. I think of it as The Annunciation of the King After The Fall. I’m going to work on it in Lightroom when I get back. :)
Hope you’re all enjoying your weekends. Why don’t you share the same vibe and break out from your routine this weekend?
I have wanted to write a post on idli and sambar since I started this blog. I tried to finish one before I left but I didn’t have a chance to organize the photos before I left. So I’ll leave you with a photo of my breakfast, which is just as satisfying as lunch or dinner and suggest that if you’d like to learn how to make this go to the Reasder and in the tags section put in Idli or Sanbar. There are many, many, talented cooks on WordPress. I’ll post my version when I get back from holiday. I think I’ll call it White-Boy-Does-Good-Indian-Food. :)
I’m going on holiday from Friday.
I will get on the shinkansen Friday sometime before five and head south. I have no firm plan on where to go or what to do — and that’s the way I like to vacation. Who isn’t bound by schedules? It’s nice to take a month off an get on without one.
With the iPad hotel reservations are a snap. I’ve been traveling this way since I was in my early twenties and only three times have I ever not found accommodation: The first time in Cambodia, the second in Germany, the third in Aomori, Japan.
As of now my blog is now on auto pilot. I’ve scheduled 15 posts over the next few weeks and will try to chime in with photos from my iPhone or iPad.
I appreciate all of the support you’ve all given me this past half year. Your comments make me feel good, I enjoy the banter, and you’ve all helped me learn a new skill. Two, in fact. Forgive me as I’ve been getting progressively busier the past few days and have not had a chance to check your blogs, leave comments, or answer mine. I will. It might take me a couple of days, but I will.
For now, this is Chinatown, or rather a temple in Chinatown. We stumbled out of the restaurant after everything was closing. With all the bright lights and quiet the area had an etherial quality I tried to keep by leaving the highlights where they were. The last two are the same photo with the background shaded out. If one strikes you as better than the other, let me know. :)
For the gate I did something new: Triple exposure. I rather like it.
One day many summers ago I was sitting in the courtyard of my neighborhood department store. Frantically going nowhere was a pigeon. People were busying by, which should have made this bird fly the coop, but it stuck close to a tree round and round and round. Curious, I went up to it. It ran away — it couldn’t fly! I reached down to pick it up and saw that something had taken a bite of its behind and took the tail clean off.
Bird in hand I went back to work.
Pigeons are seen as on par with sewer rats here. My coming into the building with said rat in hand caused quite the flutter — but I kept my bird.
When my boss understood that I intended to nurse the pigeon back to health he let me have the rest of the day off. This is how the bird became Byrd, my pet pigeon.
Long story short she eventually got well and it was time to release her. Bye Byrd! But no, the very next morning at sunrise I heard a loud thump on my veranda and cooing. Bryd came back, and she landed on my washing machine.
My washing machine sat on the veranda in front of a large storage space where I kept odds and ends, like cleaning supplies. I put food and water there for her and every morning at sun up I’d hear the familiar crash and drift back to sleep — and then one day they were two. Byrd was shacking up on my veranda!
Well, it was about this time that, thanks to Hiro, I got into Indian cooking. Remember my telling you I purchased everything in that first Indian cook book he gave me at once? When that parcel arrived there was one particular odor that permitted from the box — it reeked. The mailman was even curious enough to stay while I opened the box to find the offender: Two bottles of Hing, aka asafoetida.
Hing is a characteristic spice used throughout the Indian subcontinent. In small quantities it’s pleasant and chances are you’d recognize it, or at least associate it with Indian restaurants. Two bottles of it , however, is indescribable, so let me tell you what happened.
I had no idea how to handle the hing. Anywhere I put it in the apartment I could smell it. Plastic bags wouldn’t contain it. Freezing it only mellowed the punch. Hiding it in the most obscure parts of my cupboards was a taunt.
I put it on the veranda.
The next morning I heard that familiar thump — but there was no cooing. Moments later I heard wings beating a hasty retreat. The next morning the same thing happened. Then again. I had no where else to put the hing — I needed it! — so that hing came between me and Byrd who left with an empty nest and a bag of bird seed.
Postscript. It ends up you should keep your hing in a glass jar. The glass keeps that (now) wonderful aroma tamed and under lock.
The real Byrd. The photos were from my cell phone back then, so not the best quality. As you can see, she had no tail. I took care of her for about three months in house. I had to force feed her the first week. Then she got her will to live back. I really did enjoy her. She was quiet, docile, independent. Miss you, Byrd!