People travel to find themselves, don’t they? Well, I get the feeling I quite like being lost. I’m gearing up to travel before Japan before long, and I’m in a weird transitory phase at the moment. Having trouble focussing on anything, having trouble relaxing, having trouble kicking back and enjoying life as it is. I’m sure this too will pass.
Anyway, in my turmoil, having finished at NOVA, I thought I’d set sail across the sea to Shikoku. The smallest and by far the least travelled of Japan’s four islands, Shikoku is nonetheless a centre of Buddhist pilgrimage, and Matsuyama is its largest city. Continue reading “Zest and Hot Water (A Trip to Matsuyama)”
Listen, I’m not saying the ancients were right about Daisen. Despite all the age-old warnings, I doubt that Kagutsuchi, Shinto god of fire, himself dwells on the slopes of the mountain, or that would-be hikers need a yamabushi (syncretic1 mountain priest) for protection. But maybe it would have been a good idea to check the weather forecast first. Continue reading “A Song of Wind and Drizzle”
We woke up late, groggy and discombobulated, after a night out at Vent in Tokyo. The place was interesting and all, with its audiophile soundsystem, its concrete monoliths, its orderly drinks queues and its unexpected houseplants. On the other hand, I’ve never really liked minimalism, or techno music and its many bastard offspring, and the whole place took itself a tad seriously for my taste. It was an experience worth having, I reckon, but probably just the once. Continue reading “Lewis Waits for Sushi (A Tokyo Story, Part Two)”
Up to this point, it may have escaped your notice that Tokyo is quite big.
Depending on how you count, the city has anything from thirteen million to thirty-eight million people, which means that the hair-splitting of urban geographers can add or subtract the entire population of Australia. When Tokugawa Ieyasu chose the site as the headquarters of his new eastern lands, Edo (now Tokyo) was a small fishing village, but it ballooned quickly; a hundred years later it was probably the biggest city on Earth, a title it’s held on and off since then. Continue reading “Metropolis 一番 (A Tokyo Story, Part One)”
Greetings, y’all. I usually like to start off my blogs with some unrelated entrée, but today, let’s cut to the chase. I went to Kyoto to meet my friend and former colleague Tom; here are some musings about my trip. Continue reading “Land of 10,000 Temples (a Visit to Kyoto)”
I moved house today, saying a fond farewell to Itsukaichi by way of bean stew, noodles and fried chicken at a Burmese restaurant. From now, I’ll live in the city centre, close to the heart of Naka-ku, and even closer to my favourite bar. But I don’t want to detain you with the details right now. Let’s flash back to last week, and my trip to Shimane. Continue reading “The Far Coast, Part 2: Matsue”
This week, I took a short trip to Shimane Prefecture. I stayed for two nights and planned to document it all in a single blog. But then I went to an original, sengoku-era Japanese castle, and there’s no way I’m summing that up in a couple of paragraphs1. Therefore, I’ve taken the unspeakably decadent step of splitting my travelogue into two parts. So here it is- my first double album. (Apologies for the filler: Keith insisted we put his track with the stupid clarinet solo on there.) Continue reading “The Far Coast, Part 1: Izumo”
Was that a good week or a terrible one? I think it was a good one, even if it did start with me missing my shift, dashing manically to work, buying some ill-fitting shoes and then getting fined for my sins. True story. Along the way, it took in my first Shinnenkai (Japanese party to celebrate the nascent year), where I tried horse sashimi with fiery wasabi and soy sauce. On Wednesday, I talked hip hop and Paul Simon with a colleague from Okayama and the owner of our favourite bar, and on Sunday, I went bouldering, an activity I’m determined to master one of these days. Continue reading “Poison Island”
As November closes, I find myself struggling to get an article finished. It’s been a good month: I’ve explored a remote mountain valley, watched some Shintō dance, bounced on a floating rock and tried deep-fried garlic. It’s also been a busy month; since I got back from Fukuoka last week I’ve been bowling, celebrated a mate’s birthday, bought famous fabrics in Fukuyama and visited a 300-year-old sake brewery.
Continue reading “Round One, Fight!”
It was one of the old wild places. The Shibaki River hurtled down cliffs and over rocks unobserved, through the gorge it had created over millions of years. A few solitary travellers must have reached Sandandaki from time to time, and seen first-hand the white waters cascading over the ledge. Nonetheless, the gorge was remote enough that the Geihantsushi*, a pre-modern agricultural journal, recorded: ‘there is no access to the site to view the grandeur’.
In 1910, photographer Nanpo Kuma arrived in Sandankyo gorge, and fell in love. His efforts and photographs convinced adventurous tourists to visit, and in 1925 the gorge was designated a national scenic spot. I tried to find out more about Nanpo Kuma, but all I discovered online was the same brief summary, and a suggestion to visit the library at Sandankyo Hotel. Anyway, Nanpo, whoever you are, thank you.
Continue reading “I Guess the Time of Eternity”