Thursday, 12 August 2010

Summer break

Been away from Tokyo on a holiday in Osaka and the surrounding countryside for a few days, so there's been no new posts in the last few days. Back to work now. Although I don't usually mention anything personal much on this blog, thought I'd just post a little about the trip. (More especially for those reading from outside of Japan.)

Visited a friend in the countryside – where we caught river frogs from a stream in his back yard for part of our lunch. Here he is in the stream, in a photograph using Impossible Project film (which doesn't develop well in the heat – still practicing for exposure, developing quirks and framing, but I liked this one). His house is the last in the village and backs on to the forest. He's even built himself an outside bath for watching the stars.
And here's a still-life from the stay: shed snake-skin, garden plants, beer and a mobile phone.
Went over the mountain from Osaka to Nara: avoided the highway route, and immediately got on to a "minor road". This went – steeply and often at the width of a single car, over the top – and turned out to be the old national highway (pretty much from before cars I'd guess). The top is the only part of a national highway in Japan that is still paved by slabs of stone. This was according to the very friendly guy who runs a cafe (and farm) at the top. It has the feeling of a way station/border control between Osaka and Nara. Here he watches as a bike comes up the final steep bit.
And here's a Buddha in a temple in the woods to the side of the road.
Over the top and in Nara, we visited Shigisan temple. I'd been before to Nara and assumed that all the famous temples were in the main part of the town. But Shigisan is also "famous" (except when you casually look up "temples in Nara") and large. In Japanese summer heat, we had lunch in a cafe that provided electric and hand fans at each table. Only two other tables were occupied, and it was very peaceful.
In Osaka there's a huge sculpture/structure by Taro Okamoto, left from the 1970 Osaka Expo. Although I'm not a big fan of his work, there's no denying this sculpture's (Taiyo no To  – Tower of the Sun) presence – it's huge and playful. There's light-up events only every so often, so we were lucky to be there when it was. LED-lit balloons had been put in the grass in front of the sculpture. (You can see the scale of the thing by the size of the silhouetted people in the second shot.)
 It's a cliché that Osaka is surprisingly much friendlier Tokyo. It seems a true. I liked the city.

Unconnected, here's a monk riding a motor bike there.
And here's a gun placement in the local area where stayed (Awaji) left over from the war, now used as an apartment and probably soon to be demolished. Coincidentally, a TV crew were visiting when I was, so I could explore a little closer, (allowed to share their permission to climb on the roof, as I said, friendlier and more easy-going than Tokyo.)
This is the local cinema, advertised by the Toho-created Godzilla, featuring a film of Pokemon, while the Doraemon character greets you at the door.
Back to regular posts from now…

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