I was there on the Seoul metro, listening to Iron & Wine because it was the least Seoul-metro music I could think of. I was hoping to be overground again, anywhere else. This isn’t an indictment of the Seoul metro system, which is excellent, with its sprawling stations, vast, broad platforms and airport-style conveyer belts to ferry you about wherever. It’s just that I’ve been ill (cough, whimper), and when I’m feeling rough, being trapped in a tin can under the Earth with strangers is about as welcome as brunch with Iain Duncan Smith. In downtown Aleppo. Continue reading “Spice and Silence (Travelogue Part 4: Gyeongju- Gangneung- Seoul)”
It started with a homecoming. Familiar city streets. Streets I’ve walked a hundred times before, where I can trace the road crossings and vending machines. Hiroshima is close to my heart. Continue reading “Nearer the Smoke (Travelogue Part 2: Hiroshima- Aso- Kumamoto)”
Is there a word for this kind of exhaustion? The kind that seeps into your bones and makes you speak in tongue-tied. I don’t know; but I survived. First week of summer camp down, and no serious injuries, no lost children, and (contrary to expectations) very little vomit. I’m now back in Tokyo, where the weather is relatively cool and the sleek Bamboo-Scandinavia of Tokyo Midtown (see below) is dragging me back to the 21st Century. Here’s my debrief. Continue reading “Bugcatcher Generals (Summer Camp, Week 1)”
The days are long here in the cloudlands, but the mornings are breathtaking. Continue reading “The Clouds Live Around Us”
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”
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.