‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts […] there’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you,and here’s some for me.‘- Ophelia, Hamlet
I always knew this would be the difficult time. As winter gives up the ghost, my battered old green coat is finally too warm. There’s an ambient chorus of birdsong outside my window, and when I walked through the park today, early spring was making its mark on the trees. Mosses were glistening on the damp tree stumps and gaunt paper birches suddenly sprung to life. Around me, I could see cotton-white, fuschia, lemon yellow, warm mulberry purples and brick reds. I used to say spring was my least favourite season, but I think I’m changing my tune. Continue reading “Spring Back (The Blossom and the Memory)” →
So here we are. I’m through the summer adventure, out the other side of the Kan-Etsu Tunnel*, blinking in the sunlight and wondering what to make of all that. It’s been one hell of a summer, and I’ve really enjoyed writing about it. There’s plenty that’s still unsettled in my mind, but this is my attempt at closure as I tumble out into an uncertain future.
Continue reading “Over and Out (Summer Camp, Week 5)” →
Each camper is unique. Each child comes to summer camp with their own set of experiences, their own family situations, their own expectations, their own likes and dislikes, hopes and fears.
It would be dishonest of me not to acknowledge that you start to notice… patterns. There are ‘types’ of campers, and you could meet them several times during your summer. This is my attempt at a classification of camp archetypes (with apologies to Carl Jung). Continue reading “Eight Kids You Meet at Summer Camp (Week 3)” →
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)” →
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” →
‘If the cherry blossoms lasted six months, nobody would love them’.
This 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” →
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” →