Reiwa

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The late afternoon sun suited them.

This has been Golden Week, and it’s been manic. There’s been all manner of celebration in Hiroshima, with the Flower Festival, which was as much cheap booze, taiko drums and rawk n’ roll as it was garlands of flowers. There was competitive flower arranging though. There’s a BBC2 primetime show in there, for sure. Elsewhere along Heiwa-odori, I saw comedians, maximum-energy choreographed teen dancing and also the more traditional kind. Hiroshima Sanfrecce deservedly lost to Yokohama Marinos after some poor theatrics. Familiar faces were back in town, emotions were running high. Summer is coming. Continue reading “Reiwa”

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Blossomfall

I’ve learnt a lot about Japan in the last nine months, as I’ve got to grips with life in an unfamiliar society. I’ve written about urban geography, muzak, religion and death customs, sumo, cuisine, historical memory, work-life balance, design, international relations, arcades, football, nature, volunteering, technology and rabbits, as well as a hell of a lot about travel. Well, today, I’m writing about me, and I’m keeping it relatively short. Continue reading “Blossomfall”

Quantum Politics (or, Batman! Robin! Let’s Do Local Election Apathy!)

Campaigners drive around in cars with megaphones on the roofs, waving at people and blaring messages. Around the city, there are neat, respectful lines of posters up advertising the candidates. The elections are for the city council, and they won’t bring down any government, but they’re still the kind of thing that an election otaku like me ought to find something to say about.

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Continue reading “Quantum Politics (or, Batman! Robin! Let’s Do Local Election Apathy!)”

The Bittersweetness of Things

‘If the cherry blossoms lasted six months, nobody would love them’.

IMG_4365This sentence1 lies close to the heart of Japanese culture. Right now, the cherry blossom is covering the city in a thick mist of wan, snowy petals, and the city’s outdoor spaces are coming alive again after the winter. Stirring dull roots with spring rain, and all that. Despite a cold snap, people are barbecuing on the riverfront and eating picnics in the park. Every man and his dog carries himself like a pro photographer.
Continue reading “The Bittersweetness of Things”

Land of 10,000 Temples (a Visit to Kyoto)

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)”

No Place (or, Stuck in the Nineties)

‘Evening. What’s new with me, you ask? Well, I’ve actually been keeping one of my new year’s resolutions! I decided to get more active, and to that end I’ve started swimming at Hiroshima Central Pool, and am going bouldering once a week with my buddy from work, Brett. He’s a seasoned climber, so he’s giving me tips. The climbing centre is great, although for some people, gravity is just a minor inconvenience. Spot the difference*:

 

To my chagrin, I’m forced to admit that doing more exercise does make me happier. I’ve been working on taking some more interesting photographs, too, and later in February I’m heading for Shimane Prefecture, to see the birthplace of Japanese civilization. And then in April, I’m visiting Tokyo for the first time!

Anyway, enough about me. Today I want to talk about my biggest surprise when I moved to Japan. Continue reading “No Place (or, Stuck in the Nineties)”

Fireworks and Gravestones

I was writing the wrong blog, basically. For the last week, I’ve been straining to finish an article to answer the perennial question of my return: ‘what surprised you the most when you moved to Japan?’ But it’s a difficult question to answer, and I wasn’t getting much inspiration. Sometimes you don’t write well because you don’t know what to say. Continue reading “Fireworks and Gravestones”

Fever Dreams of the First Six Months

So, inevitably I caught some kind of bug as my autumn term is wrapping up. I’ve been mulling over my penultimate offering before I fly back to the motherland, but I feel a bit feverish and ill-equipped for prose. So I thought I’d give you some weird poetry instead, based on some of my favourite photographs of my time in Japan. Haiku, naturally. Continue reading “Fever Dreams of the First Six Months”

Round One, Fight!

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!”

Dancers in the Sprawl

So, I’m already back from Fukuoka, and I’m itching to write about Sumo- but I had a half-written blog article to finish. So, today’s offering is about beauty and ugliness, and how the two intertwine in modern Japan.

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— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — Continue reading “Dancers in the Sprawl”