Archive for the ‘写真(photos)’ Category


2013年 1月 9日

Mutton Chop 1Normally I like my hair trimmed short and my beard nicely groomed around the mouth and jaw; however, being a white man in Japan, I am often recruited to be Santa at parties and such. Anyone knows that kids are clever and wearing a fake beard is just inviting the little investigators to invoke accusations of being an impostor. Stemming that tide as well as possible, I often grow out my beard in December.

Sort of tangential to that, I also relied on “hair mascara” in the past to whiten the beard and my eyebrows – to really sell that image. This season, I used no artificial coloring, but found that two years of married life have given me enough whitening.

Recently a friend linked a video about how to shave a beard. One key point was to resist the temptation to play beard games. I’ll just come right out and say, I have never and probably never will be able to resist the play time.

Mutton Chop 2Once all the parties had ended my better half pressed me to take action in the facial hair reduction realm. I hollered out from the vanity announcing that I had trimmed off the cheeks. Delighted responses came back from the kitchen. I made an appearance and for awhile she was cheering with delight; that is, until she really noticed the sideburns. Don’t worry, they are completely gone now, but I made her immortalize them with the camera before hacking away.


Sweet Goya

2012年 9月 8日

Sweet GoyaGoya grow on climbing vines from just behind the flowers, much like a cucumber; however, they have a bumpy flesh that is generally known for it’s bitterness. Often prepared with scrambled egg, onions, and pork in Okinawan cooking, it is liked and hated by roughly equal numbers of people. In our hot climate, it has been trendy to grow “green curtains” of these vines outside windows in an attempt to stay cool. We opted to follow the trend this summer and have been treated to shade, good food, and learning for our efforts.

Sweet Goya seedsOne interesting point of learning is that, the bitter green goya are actually less than fully ripe. Allowing them to ripen past the normal harvest time, sees them change to yellow or bright orange coloring. Additionally, the bitterness is greatly tempered; in some cases, even resulting in a bit of sweetness. Harvesting this late can be a bit tricky in that the goya will start to rot on the vine and bugs or birds may take an interest in dining before the farmer.

Sweet Goya seedGreen goya seeds are normally carved from the inside and thrown out; although some will tempura fry them. In the case of a fully ripened goya, the seeds become harder but the flesh around them turns sweet and red – almost like jam.

Banner Day

2012年 8月 8日

Today is a banner day – that is to say, I updated the banner image today. Previously I had used an image of rotting fishing ropes, but was constantly troubled with how to make the text legible over that image. The new image is from the photo trip to Shinojima for their Gion festival.

I pulled a lot of the color and contrast out of the background using GIMP; hoping that this would make it easier to view the blog title. Also, for visual reasons I wanted the strong lines in the image to be nearly horizontal. Someone with a sharp eye will notice that flags rarely flutter horizontally and the image is rotated 25 degrees counter-clockwise.

Smoky Comes to Visit

2012年 7月 27日

For about nineteen years, Fritz and Fred were my sweet kitties. Both of them brought me much joy and it has been hard being without them here in Japan; however, on Sunday the 22nd a new kitty came to live with us. Another foreign national in Geino-cho collected a stray and couldn’t care for it, so we took him on.

We are calling him Smoky. His fur is two shades of gray and his eyes – although green – have an appearance of misty grayness. After we assigned the name, we realized he also has the tendency to vanish like smoke. Often we can hear his bell, but can’t find him anywhere. I uploaded six photos to this set in Flickr, please have a look. Here is one of the images for those of you who just want a peep.

Smoky Side 1

He had worms and eggs in his intestines, a fungal infection in his eyes, and an infection in his nose. All of these are fairly common in strays in Japan. We are giving him medicines now, but he seems pretty much healed now and has tons of energy.

Shinojima JK

2012年 7月 17日

Two photo societies took a joint trip to Shinojima (篠島) for their Gion Festival (ぎおん祭り) on the 14th and 15th. While shooting at the beach these seven high school girls made me promise to upload their photos to the internet. They were attempting to do a “jump” photo. Here they are:

Shinojima JK four jump

Shinojima JK seven jump 4

Shinojima JK seven jump 3

Shinojima JK seven jump 2

Shinojima JK seven jump 1

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

2011年 9月 14日

Being thrown curve balls of all manner, including a police interview regarding the apparent murder at one of my schools, so can’t yet get back to proper (excessive) posting frequency. After the move on Saturday, and the lag in getting internet connected at the new house, I should have an extra 20 hours a week to fill. I plan to use half of that for sleep, and a significant portion for late paperwork, but perhaps a portion can be used to fill these pages with tastes of my life in Japan.

Readers have made considerable requests for more of my photography and I hope to oblige. Various standards and rules prevent me showing certain works under consideration for contests; however, there is plenty of material otherwise uninhibited. Dog on Board (original)Here is a photo I took in Ise-Shima while on a photo trip with my chapter and a chapter from Nagoya. There was a surfing contest at this beach, but the waves were small: and the surfers, bored; which is a recipe for amusing behavior. This French bulldog really had a fascination with the board.

I was initially drawn to the scene because a number of senior members were shooting furiously from the bow of the board. As I moved quickly down the beach, I was approaching from the side; which is generally considered less favorable, but the dog cooperated by facing my direction. To date I have seen no other works including the dog on the board, so I may have been lucky with the angle. Odd angles seem to be my way (which could be a future post).

My friend who has been encouraging me in my Ubuntu usage, also impresses upon me to make use of GIMP for editing my photos. Even though an artist friend has made other software recommendations, the generally utility and free price of the GIMP make it very attractive. Dog on BoardHere is an image from the same photo with some intense color enhancement, which is only possible due to learning about more of the powerful selection tools in GIMP. Early color enhancement efforts would leave the dog looking yellow, or both the dog and board a bit blue. Here, I was able to make the yellow on the board stand out and change the almost murky water into a bright blue without damaging the dog’s appearance. Yet another critical point is that I could also keep the breaking portions of the wave looking sharp crystalline or white.

Ultimately this photo can’t be used for the Tsu Exhibition this year: not sharp enough to enlarge to zenshi-size; no other subjects to tie this to reality; and doesn’t include the board tip among other points. I will be submitting a photo this year and it will be one with the dog, but you’ll have to wait for more on that. Perhaps it can be my Christmas present to you all.

Black Crow Castle

2011年 9月 5日

Every time I think my schedule is tidied enough to allow multiple weekly posts, life swells up to squeeze that space; however, not to be deterred, I am looking forward to gaining ten to twenty hours of free time per week via our upcoming move. For now, rather than apologize for the dearth of trip photos, I will post one gem – if I may arrogantly label it thus – from our return trip, with promises of more.

Black Crow Castle 1
We stopped at Matsumoto on our way home from Niigata. Japan has a fascination with lists of threes: 3 must see tourist spots, 3 must see power spots, … Castles are not to be forgotten here, with: Himeji, Matsumoto, and Hikone (if memory serves) making the grade. Matsumoto castle, also called Black Crow Castle, was built in the 16th century and still stands today. Many points, including its master, make it interesting. Two towers in the main structure – visible in this photo – are one unique point. There is also a moon-viewing platform, which I will reveal in later uploads.

Another unique design feature is making the internal stairways extremely steep and making each step high, some as high as 50cm. Navigating your way inside is quite a chore. Samurai living inside such a building would be very adjusted to the stairs, but any invader unfortunate to survive all the way to the keep would be met with an unexpected challenge.

In the previous post, my final sentence was a bit of irony. Most people heading for Matsumoto have this historic structure on the top of their list but, for my career educator/administrator father-in-law, the historic school was his main focus. Black Crow castle was just bait to draw us into accepting his plan.

Confession time: another reason exists for not uploading photos right away. Submissions to contests are generally kept off the internet, at least until after the contest is completed. People are still waiting for me to upload a couple honorable mention winners.

Returning to the Scene

2011年 5月 17日

BouquetsMy wife and I were married on May 15th, 2010 or possibly May 16th. It’s been a whole year, so it’s to be expected that some details are vague.

Our relatives were invited to a dinner party on the 15th, which was a Saturday. After the party ended, we drove to city hall at night and filed our paperwork. Official records will show our marriage occurring on that date. At mid-day on Sunday the 16th we had a wedding ceremony and party, so we think of that date as our wedding.

We held the ceremony in Kameyama at a restaurant called Tsuki no Niwa (The Garden of the Moon), outside under the trees. We stood with our two officiants in a gazebo with our guests seated in front.

Both of us were hoping to eat there soon, so we decided it would be perfect to spend our first anniversary there remembering the day’s events. Kaori, the owner, is a friend of ours and she came out to chat with us. She arranged a special table in the gazebo where, the same as last year, the weather was gorgeous.

AppetizersWe started dining around 1 :30pm, with Appletiser instead of champagne. My wife was driving and I didn’t have much interest in drinking champagne without her. We toasted our first year and our hopes for our second.

Our entire meal was organic vegetarian. Typically, I love fish and meats, but eat more vegetables and fruits; however, the vegetarian creations at Tsuki no Niwa are always very satisfying. Balance of colors, textures, flavors, and health are all well attended to in their preparations. Our first plate had four small dishes, one being tofu with egoma, which many people mistake for a kind of sesame, based on the name; yet, it is really a seed from the shiso plant.

Eri ChiliEbi Chili is a popular dish in Japan made with shrimp. The owner created a dish called Eri Chili, with similar spice and sauce, but replaced the shrimp with eringe mushrooms. We were delighted with this one. Spring RollsSpring rolls and shumai dishes were also served. A very satisfying blend of flavors.

ShumaiDuring the meal, Shunsuke – who was the manager of the restaurant during the wedding – dropped in to talk and brought a bouquet of flowers for each of us. It was very touching. He has since moved on to taking care of other projects, such as a monthly organic market in Seki, so we felt honored that he would make the time for us.

Rice and Mabo TofuOur final dishes were whole rice with pickled radish and plum; and, mabo tofu. Mabo is often made with ground meat, but ours had a dark millet instead, which gave an amusing texture.

Planning everything for our wedding was a little hectic to say the least, and we missed a few details. Perhaps the largest gaffe was when we realized a couple weeks before the wedding, that we had no cake. An executive decision was made to do without, saddened by our parting from Western tradition. During the wedding reception, once guests had eaten a fair quantity of food, Shunsuke got ahold of me and wanted me to corral my wife and get to our table.

Tofu Cream CakeAi-chan then carried a cake to our table and presented it to us. Were I not an emotionally restrained American, I would have been bawling, but I managed to smile a lot with glistening eyes. Since we were going to Tsuki no Niwa for the anniversary, I requested that we have the same cake again. She produced a lovely, smaller version, for us. Large enough to share with the staff and still have leftovers for the next day.

Tofu Cream CakeHearing “tofu cream cake” for the first time, I can tell you, I was a little suspicious; however, it was incredibly good – as you may have guessed by my insistence on ordering it for the anniversary meal.

With all our chatting and listening to the birds in the trees, it was 6pm by the time we finished lunch and were on our way. I really love Kaori and her restaurant and I hope to visit again soon.

Back on Two Wheels

2010年 10月 26日

OK, OK, I promised this photo long ago. As most of you know, I was hit by a car on August 1st, 2009 and spent the better part of the year in physical therapy. My neck and hip still don’t feel right, but I am back on the bike. Before the accident I had my white bike decorated with red bar tape and we dubbed it the Hi no Maru bike. We call the Japanese flag, having a bright red dot on a pure white field, the Hi no Maru. After the accident, I wanted to renew my spirit by changing the look and feel of the bike. Also, because of the long recovery, I was hoping to celebrate a little as well.

Now the bike has purple bar tape and purple tires. Yes, that’s right, the tires are purple. They had some with purple sidewalls, but I opted for the entirely purple tires. My gloves and helmet are also new. Purple gear was hard to find, so I went with white to match the frame color. All this gives a clean and fresh look. Also, I picked up some Mavic wheels with a smaller number of flat spokes. They should roll a lot faster and decrease drag.

Here’s a photo of me leaving the pit area at the Suzuka F-1 Circuit where we raced on Saturday. I will write more about that, but I’m tired now.
Ready to Leave the Pit

Somedays She’s Silly

2010年 9月 16日

Box of PrincesseMy wife is a very serious person with very serious activities; however, somedays she is silly. We took a trip to Chiba for the first dress fitting and received some tasty souvenirs from our friends, the dressmakers. They were so good we ordered them for the thank you gifts for our domestic guests who gave cash presents at the wedding.

One of the goodies was called Gouter de Princesse; which – if HS French doesn’t fail me – means something like “The Princess’s Taste”. We ordered a large number of tins and they arrived in a large box. My wife was giddy enough to be coaxed into the box and agreed I could post it on the internet if I edited out the mess from the left side of the photo.

I hope she doesn’t forget that she gave me permission. We have a similar photo of me in a fancy wooden box as well… maybe I can dig that up.