And A River Runs Through It

  Okayama city is bisected by the small river you see, a footpath on either side and small bridges every block. Along the paths in either direction are statues. Some are of Greek gods, other abstracts, still others and then more on top of that. Around the city are memorials to artist, athletes, (respected) politicians, businessmen and notable people from the city. The dance done, people went out for supper and this very large metropolis was still for about an hour. The rain had turned to occasional drizzle. The clouds broke —… Read More

The country under the mask

okayama momotaro matsuri

And so there was a festival in Okayama where groups of friends, community groups, alumni and students — any assemblage of any kind is welcome — form a kind of dance troupe between 30 – 100 members and perform to given theme to one of a dozen specific tunes. They follow behind a small truck blasting their tune down kilometer long shopping arcades, or city streets closed off. For hours and hours they dance before moving to the next venue. To keep relevant cities take whatever celebrity happens their way and find… Read More

Looking for advice

I would like some advice. In this particular photo I wanted to invert the role of father and mother. Working with children I hear almost exclusively of the women in young peoples lives. Fathers are something like a weekend treat, or depending on the relationship, a Sunday school sermon when all you want to do is play. This couple was sitting outside one of the areas the dancers I mentioned previously pass. The mother in her almost defensive posture, broad hipped, scanning the crowd; the father coddling their child with rugged hands,… Read More

Foreign: Thoughts on traveling alone

I think any county with a sizable population becomes a shell containing different countries. What do I mean? Back in the states we have New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta which draw people from all over the world who, in finding equilibrium, create a culture different from those smaller cities, towns, parishes which house what we can call “Americana”. Said differently, Paris is not France and neither is Tokyo, Japan. I woke up to a dark overcast on Saturday which got heavier and denser until, by 9:00 a.m., the rains fell in… Read More

A strong foundation and open doors

Okayama castle courtyard

Japan has different classes of accommodation. There are elite hotels for the super rich (and weddings), 1-5 star hotels for traveling, business hotels, capsule hotels. For futons and home cooked meals there are Japanese inns and pensions. And if your traveling on a budget there are hostels, manga or Internet cafes (you get a partitioned┬áspace), and all night onsen (which come with reclining arm chairs for you to sleep in till morning) — and there are even more options, which is all to say that I knew I’d find someplace even though… Read More

Five stories and a twist

  Friday morning I woke up, did some house cleaning (before I passed my key on), and finished up the last of my summer work. It was three before I started looking for a hotel — and they were all over priced in Kyoto. I scanned the route in my mind. Okayama. I could stay the night there then catch the ferry over to Naoshima. It was five by the time I left with Hiro’s backpack and two pairs of each: shorts, t-shirt, over shirt, socks, Calvins. I packed one outfit for… Read More

What it feels like traveling (sometimes)

I got back the other evening on a late shinkansen. I walked into my home, immaculately clean, lay fresh sheets on the bed, took and shower and slept for sixteen hours uninterruptedly. I had set 15 posts to upload here automatically during my holiday, expecting to chime in from time to time with “cellphoneography”, but they stopped self-posting. I apologize for that. Once I started island hopping keeping a charge in my i-devices became a battle, so I shut down all mail and anything push; used the cell camera when the taking… Read More

Cellphoneograhy: Pride and Peer Pressure

This is called a hook. If I showed you my feet you wouldn't have clicked, would you? This is also a Japanese snow cone.

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… Read More

Cellphoneography: Working On Peace

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 ┬áthe monument to peace, the workers are setting up two abstract… Read More

Cellphoneography: Okayama

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… Read More