Japan Photo Drift: Ishigaki jima Island

Ishigaki-jima

Ishigaki jima, Yaeyama Islands Japan

My first winter break in Japan seventeen(!) years ago, while all my friends went off to Thailand, I spent a couple of weeks sleeping wild on Okinawa and Iriomote jima in the off season. Trip of a lifetime! One of I’ve written about elsewhere, and may soon also tell here on Big Sushi…

Meantime, in the spring of 2013, I finally made it back to the Yaeyama islands, this time to Ishigaki jima – with a day trip to Taketomi jima. While it was spring this time and not winter, we still hit it in the off season – which is how I like it anyway. Fewer crowds. More unstable = more interesting weather.

I shot most of these pictures with the Olympus E-P1 and – for reasons that escape me now, since I already owned a couple of fine prime lenses – the 14 – 42 kit zoom lens.

Continue reading “Japan Photo Drift: Ishigaki jima Island”

Japan Photo Drift: Hokkaido (Gallery 3 of 3)

Hokkaido

Pictures of Countryside around Biei and Furano, Hokkaido Japan, Summer 2012

… and here it is, the last of three galleries of photos from a trip R. and I took to Hokkaido, including my old JET Programme host town of Biei, in the summer of 2012.

BTW, I’m at work on a personal essay about my time in Hokkaido when I first moved to Japan 16+ (!) years ago for the Transitions Abroad narrative travel writing contest. Look for the story, working title Extreme Japan: slow travel epiphanies from the far ends of Japan, in the TA winners’ circle. Or in the highly unlikely event that I don’t win, here on the pages of Big Sushi, Little Fishes…

Photography Notes: As mentioned previously, I usually set my cameras to shoot RAW + JEPG. It’s easy to messy up settings in the menu of an Olympus PEN camera, however, especially early models, and at some point early on I ended up getting only JPEGS shot through the Grainy Film Art Filter on these shoots (the colour shots were taken with a Canon G9). All the B&W shots in this gallery were taken with the m/Zuiko 45mm 1.8 prime lens.

Japan Photo Hikes: “Koyo,” Autumn Leaves at Kogamane, Nagano

Koyo Autumn Leaves, Komagane
Koyo Autumn Leaves, Komagane

Koyo Autumn Leaves, Komagane

Autumn is settling over Tokyo, but in the town of Kogamane — four and a half by bus from Tokyo — in the highlands of Nagano prefecture, it’s in full flourish. Kogamane is at1660 meters (4,980 feet) elevation, and is home base to the cable car ropeway that carries hikers up to Senjojiki Cirque and the peaks of the Chuo Central Alps. But Senjojiki is another story… coming soon! Continue reading “Japan Photo Hikes: “Koyo,” Autumn Leaves at Kogamane, Nagano”

Portraits of trees UPDATED

Trees

Portraits of Trees

(This is an update of a previous post; I’ve added the proper photos to the gallery. Sorry ’bout that…)

What more to say? A gallery of tree portraits taken mostly in Japan (a few from Kingston, Ontario). All of these pictures were taken with an Olympus: either e-p1, e-p3, or e-p5 (what can I say? I like the Olympus Pen cameras!), with a Lumix 20mm, or m.Zuiko 25 or 45, all prime natch…

Portraits of Trees

Trees

Portraits of Trees

What more to say? A gallery of tree portraits taken mostly in Japan (a few from Kingston, Ontario). All of these pictures were taken with an Olympus: either e-p1, e-p3, or e-p5 (what can I say? I like the Olympus Pen cameras!), with a Lumix 20mm, or m.Zuiko 25 or 45, all prime natch…

Ontakesan Eruption: (Almost) One Week Later — News Reports Summary

Almost one week after the initial eruption, according to media reports the death toll on Ontakesan has reached 47 with 20 climbers still missing in what Asahi Shinbun and others have called “the deadliest eruption in Japan in the postwar period.” Others are still missing, but rain and volcano activity prevent rescuers and helicopters from searching the area.

The New York Times carries a first-hand report of the eruption from mountain guide Gaku Harada. “I thought it was the end of the world,” he’s reported as saying.

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi used the Ontakesan eruption to strengthen his argument against nuclear energy. The Asahi Shinbun reports him as saying “Even experts say they never expected Mount Ontakesan to erupt. Unexpected incidents can occur at any time… Earthquakes, tsunami and eruptions occur all over Japan so it must not have nuclear power plants.”

Japan’s Active Volcanoes: Owakudani, Mount Hakone

Owakudani

Hakone’s “Great Boiling Valley”

Apparently, before getting the name Owakudani, “Great Boiling Valley,” this area of Mount Hakone was known as Ojiguko, “Great Hell.” Both work, though the latter fits better with the pictures I took on the day R. and I visited: hooded figures moving slowly through sulphurous steam and boiling milky mudpots.

Mount Hakone last erupted in 950 BC. “However, solfataric activity can still be found at four places on the northern and northeastern sides of Kami-yam and the northeastern side of Komaga-take, just southeast of Kami-yama.”

BTW, if you’re interested in a guidebook that combines detailed  — if dated, it was last updated in 1988  — explanations of Japan’s volcanic geography, check out Paul Hunt’s Hiking in Japan: An Adventurer’s Guide to the Mountain Trails. The book is out of print, but you may be able to check it out of your library. Or, if you’re stuck, you can borrow mine 🙂