Snow Monsters of Zao

Snow Monsters of Zao; Tohoku Japan

By some measures, Japan is the snowiest place on earth, and winter in areas such as the Tohoku region north of Tokyo add to that rep. The Zaosan (蔵王山) mountains, on the border between Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures, for example, gets around 12 metres dumped on its forested slopes each season. That’s a far cry from the 40-metre (120-plus feet) epic blanket that smothers the Japanese Alps around Nagano each year (there’s a reason houses in the countryside traditionally have a second front door, upstairs), but still more than enough to transform this range of stratovolcanoes, crater lakes, and subalpine fir trees into a magical fantastical winter wonderland each year…

Read the rest of the story and see more pictures at https://medium.com/the-big-sushi/snow-monsters-of-zao-japan-9f6853a2523

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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 Drift: Hokkaido (Gallery Two)

Hokkaido

Pictures of Summer in Biei, Hokkaido

Although I developed, so to speak, a passion for photography during the four years I lived on Japan’s rural, northernmost island of Hokkaido — island light! — I don’t have digital copies of those first pictures.

These pictures are from a summer trip R. and I took to the Biei area of central Hokkaido in 2012. Although I didn’t really appreciate it then — I was alone, my girlfriend being in Tokyo — the Biei area is very photogenic. Cigarette commercials and TV dramas like to use the patchwork fields and dramatic treelines as their settings.

By the way, the volcano pictures are from an aborted climb up Asahidake, in Daisetsuzan National Park.

Continue reading “Japan Photo Drift: Hokkaido (Gallery Two)”

Japan Photo Drift: Hokkaido (First Gallery)

Hokkaido

Pictures from Hokkaido, Summer 2012

I lived on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, for four years when I first moved to Japan – from the summer of 1998 to 2002. Although I left Hokkaido for Tokyo twelve years ago and don’t regret the move, Hokkaido for me then was one of those seminal times in life when you are, as they say, “in the right place at the right time.”

Recently I started to write once again about what it was like for an inner-city kid to find himself in a rural part of Japan on an island which, at the time, most people had never heard of. I’ll write more about Extreme Japan: slow travel epiphanies on Hokkaido and Iriomote…

For now, I’m sorting and editing pictures from a trip R. and I took to central Hokkaido — Biei/Furano and Asahidake — in the summer of 2012. Thought I’d start to share some of them on Big Sushi… Continue reading “Japan Photo Drift: Hokkaido (First Gallery)”

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…