Photograph of an empty shopping mall in Harborland Japan

Did we break consumerism?

October 25, 2021

The Umie shopping mall, Harborland, Kobe, Japan. 19:12 on a Friday night.

When I've been here in past years, it was a bustling and noisy time. Friends and family out, heading for the food court before a film, shopping, hanging out. Now it's quiet and peaceful.

Photograph of an entrance to the temple in Myohoji

An unexpected treasure in Myohoji

October 11, 2021

Friday seems to have become my "Photo walk" day. Laptop goes away, camera comes out and off I toddle for an hour or two. It's a great way to unwind.

This week I toddled off to the old town. Bit of a surprise as there's quite a large temple. On the map it's just a symbol. Get up close and it becomes a sprawling collection of buildings, shrines and statues.

Photograph of a river plain with tall green grassed in the foreground, a ridge with houses in the midground and mountains looming in the background

A walk along the river plain

September 22, 2021

This is where I live. If you squint hard, you can see my house.

I’ve been looking out across the valley every morning for the past 9 months. My ambition has been to walk around along the river that winds its way from a lake up in the mountains to meet the Myohoji river. I tried it once, only to find my way blocked by Japan’s obsession with turning every riverbank into concrete.

Black and white photograph of a shopping alley in Japan with bright lights and no people

Memories of Osaka

August 29, 2021

I lived in Osaka for a couple of months. We holed up in an AirBnB, a terraced house out in Tennoji. It was two rooms: one downstairs, one up.

Since we closed the door on that place back in January we've not been back. Passed through a couple of times on the way to Kyoto, but not visited.

Photograph of the cruise ship Diamond Princess taken in August 2016 at Yokohama pier

Diamond Princess: august 2016

August 24, 2021

How was I to know the subject of this holiday snap would become international news? It's August of 2016 and my wife and I are enjoying a walk around Yokohama's docks. In the distance is a cruise ship far larger than any I'd seen before. I took a couple of photos as we chatted about it and then moved on. Lunch awaited, if I remember correctly.

Roll forward to early 2020 and the "plague ship" headlines. Thousands of passengers and crew were trapped aboard a cruise ship as an outbreak of the new "Coronavirus" was reported. Passengers were confined to their cabins to contain the outbreak. Many complained about the "poor service" they received, blind to the same disease running through the crew. And as they endured, Japanese Health Officials struggled to contain the outbreak. This was before Covid-19 became a pandemic, and information about how the disease was spread and evolved was in short supply.

Black and white photo of the Sailing Ship Miraie in Kobe Harbor

Miraie in Kobe

July 25, 2021

The sailing ship Miraie tied up in Harborland, Kobe.

Black and white photograph of people hunting for crabs on a beach while a bird hunts for them in the foreground

Everybody’s hunting for crabs

July 21, 2021

Crabs were everywhere. While people hunted them for pleasure, the heron was looking for lunch.

Photograph of a man working on powerlines in Kobe, Japan

Man at work on powerlines

July 14, 2021

The roar of a diesel engine brought me to the window of my office.

They were methodical and meticulous. The vehicle moved into place. A crane rose. The coupling inspected and sprayed. Down came the crane.

Photograph of two elderly people in masks and long sleeves walking in evening sun with a ferris wheel behind them

Wear a mask

July 14, 2021

It was mid-spring, twenty+ degrees and a bright evening sun. I was in T-shirt with my hoodie wrapped around my waist.

They came towards me at a gentle stroll. Buried beneath layers and wearing masks and the white gloves sold in hundred yen stores.

Photo of a hammock slung between two trees in a Japanese wood

We all need a place to hide

July 1, 2021

Found tucked away in the back of Nihonheso Park.

White hydrangea plant

Hydrangea in Japan

June 24, 2021

It's a special time of year in Japan. The hydrangea are out, signalling the arrival of the rainy season. Parks are full of pinks and blues and whites. People are gathering (in a socially distanced way), enjoying the sights and taking photos.

Social media is awash with these photographs and everyone enjoys the shared experience of admiring the flowers for second time. I count myself amongst these onlookers.

Photograph of a classic Ramen Bowl with instant ramen, pork slices, boiled egg and spring onion

Celebrate life’s small victories

June 18, 2021

Instant Ramen is a single serving, you can't get it wrong, all you need is a pan and boiling water, staple. It's so easy to make even small children manage it. How I came to completely screw it up and turn scrummy noodles into a congealed, tasteless mess is anyone's guess.

Needless to say, that night's dinner was a silent and tense affair.

Sushi plates on a conveyor in a restaurant in Japan

The endless march of food towards my table

June 5, 2021

While I enjoy sushi, my dislike of shellfish and cephalopods does limit my choice somewhat. That said, I can invariably find something on the menu.

Top tip: get close to the start of the conveyor. This is where you'll get the most choice.

A red plastic mug with Hello Kitty placed between flowers at a stone statue

Hello, Kitty

June 1, 2021

This isn't the first time I've seen a Hello Kitty branded mug at the foot of a statue in Japan. I dare say it won't be the last either.

A photograph of a man walking along a street at night, illuminated by a street light.

Street photography in Osaka: a lone traveller

May 28, 2021

Taken one night while I was living in Osaka. I only stayed there for 3 months, two weeks in quarantine, then time while we looked for a house in Kobe. Our house was close to Tennoji, a short walk from the Temple, and we could see the stunning Abeno Harukas tower from our balcony.

We used to take walks at night. Although Tennoji doesn't have the bright lights of Tokyo's Shibuya, it has its own charms. There are plenty of alleys, old houses and bright lights to keep someone interested.

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