Japan diaries: Goodbye Spring

The longest day of the year has arrived, which means it’s the peak of summer season here in Japan! You wouldn’t think so considering grey skies dominate and beaches are yet to officially open. I always thought it amusing that even if it was a very hot day, 99% of Japanese people won’t go to the beach if it’s not officially beach season. I’ve been asked countless times if South Africa experiences four seasons, and thinking it a silly question I’d always say an astounding yes. After living here in Japan for nearly two years I think I view that question in an entirely different sense. It has allowed me to experience each season’s distinct foods, flora and festivals in all of their cultural pride.  It’s honestly a pride and distinction unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at home. The year is actually further divided into 24 “sekki” which are given names that translate into things like “summer solstice”, “small heat” and “large heat”. These pictures I snapped in April can act as a final goodbye to Japanese spring and a hello to the “large heat” that will soon grace us with its sweaty presence!

Japan diaries: Onomichi and Setoda

A set of pictures that remind me of some solo wanderings, times when I made the effort to notice my surroundings and see the beauty in the little things: views from above and views from below, sunsets and heavy skies, colours and textures, layers and landscapes. Wordsworth describes it best: 
“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.”
These photographs may not be of daffodils, but I can look at them and think back and smile at many a time when I stumbled upon beauty while “wandering lonely as a cloud”. 


Japan diaries: Miyajima, red pants and a stalker

I’m baaaack, with a slight tan and a holiday hangover to boot. So this is mission blog catch up! Taking you allll the way back to November 26th 2011, when my inner Japanese conscience finally reprimanded me for not having checked out the autumn leaves. The internet told me that Miyajima was my closest, best option. Blue skies and grilled oysters were calling, so I threw on my red skinnies and headed for the island. The peak of autumn leaf viewing (yes, that’s an activity) meant that tourists and their cameras were out in droves. I cuffed an 80 year old couple snapping my pic and decided to strike up a conversation and make the most of their stalking. Ha! He and his wife ended up emailing me the pictures in five different file sizes with a cute Japanese message in each. Gotta love tech savvy oldies 😉
My top tips for Miyajima: 1) There are only a couple of things worth doing on the island but they’re all a real treat. You really could spend more than a day here. Head to Itsukushima shrine, the floating torii (unmissable), the five storey pagoda at the pavilion called Senjo-kaku and the cable way that takes you a fair distance up Mt. Misen (it’s still a 20min hike to the top after that). 2) Hang around at the island for the whole day so that you catch the torii during low and high tide. 3) Beware the deer: they eat anything from paper to the very clothes on your back. 4) Eat, eat, eat: deep fried momiji cakes all year round and seasonal oysters. Yes please!

Japan diaries: Evening Dreaming

You’ll find me here during all seasons. It’s my escape, a place to think, to people watch, to laze in the sunshine, to picnic at, to run through bubbles (yes there’s a bubble machine!) on a freezing winter night with blinking Christmas lights. It’s the Popolo Music Theatre, and as I’ve said on the blog before, my favourite spot in Mihara city. It’s known in the area for its architecture, grassy park (grass is rare) and cute café called “Maru2tasu”.

Japan diaries: Cupcakes and Evening Scapes

I hope these pictures make you feel as dreamy as they make me feel! And who doesn’t want to dream of cupcakes?! I baked those up about two weeks ago for the “Let’s Film Festival”, a film festival held annually in the little magical town of Onomichi.  This past film fest managed to raise about 60 000 yen which was donated to the Japanese Red Cross to help the earthquake and tsunami victims up North.
The other pictures were taken this evening actually. I’ve valued evening bike rides and walks as a time to explore my town and enjoy good weather. Hope you all have a great weekend, I’ll be in the city for this one, so hopefully that means good fun and good fashion!

Japan diaries: One night in Nara

During mid-April I was lucky enough to share a weekend in Nara with some familiar faces from home. These pictures don’t really include any of Nara’s major sites, but I think this is the Nara I’ll remember… Ps. don’t be fooled by the innocent look in that deer’s eyes!! They’re all in desperate need of an intervention for Japanese cracker addiction.