Category: Japan

Tis the Season

Celebrating big holidays like Christmas in a foreign country always comes with a mixed bag of emotions. Some expats, especially in their first couple of years abroad, will rush home every major vacation. Others do their best to ignore it and treat it like any other day. And some, like me, do their best to celebrate it any way they…

The Joys of Translation

I will be the first to say that this post has nothing to do with travel or photography.  I was recently going through some old files and I came across a list of bad translations that my students had written for an assignment where they had to interview someone.  The interviews were harmless stuff, but the students were lazy and…

Deer glue and nightingale poo

About a month ago I saw a notice for a sumi-e workshop in Nara with a well-known sumi-e artist, Christine Flint Sato. Eager to try my hand at some traditional Japanese crafts, I signed up.  And on a warm November morning, I found myself grinding a sumi stick on an ink stone in a workshop with about 12 other students.…

Being a Film Photographer in Japan

Japan is a photographer’s paradise.  Naturally, it has a lot of appeal to photographers in terms of the subjects it offers: old, traditional buildings, modern cityscapes, quirky Japanese goods and fashion, and more.  And more importantly, it has cameras, lots and lots of cameras. I first moved here in 1999.  Back then you’d be hard-pressed to find an internet cafe…

How to survive Japanese Festivals

Japanese festivals come in all sorts of forms: fireworks, parades, formal and informal entertainment, dances, and more. I like going to festivals, they’re interesting, fun, and visually visceral. I’ve learned a lot about festivals here, so much so that when I go back home or to other countries I’m kind of surprised that my knowledge of what to do doesn’t…

A December Story

A small chain of islands dot the Pacific Ocean south from Kyushu to Okinawa.  At about the halfway point lies Amami Island and nearby, like a forgotten smaller sibling, is the island of Kikai. One December morning, somewhere on Kikai Island, three girls go for a walk to the beach.  They decide to take a break and have a snack…