Friday, February 26, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Oh no, more plum blossom! Hmmm, how to describe the plum blossom addiction... well - while cherry blossom is municipally planted in obvious and sometimes rather ugly places, plum blossom is more hidden. One scores one point for each tree one spots first.
Off to Tsukuba and Tokyo tomorrow - with any luck there will be tales to tell as a result.
[photo taken at Egaratenjin, Kamakura]
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Number 2 in the series, "the toxic waste part of town where we work".
The concrete will crumble and nature will win in the end. Go daffodils!
[By iphone. Number 1 in the series can be found here.]
Monday, February 22, 2010
A Myohonji montage.
I have been struggling with how to describe Myohonji, a temple not often visited by casual tourists to Kamakura. As I remarked in an earlier post it is full of contrasts. It also contains a lot of weird things like the the giant clam shells, a disappearing staircase, tombstones growing lichen and a giant shiny new statue of Nichiren, making it like a level from tomb raider perhaps, or something from Indiana Jones. Nichiren, is an amazing guy who founded at least 8 of the top 5 temples in Kamakura as well as thousands of other temples all over Japan. As it is quite new, the statue is best viewed on a cloudy day; it is rather dazzling in the more usual bright sunshine.
Friday, February 19, 2010
According to Wikipedia "On the black market, giant clam shells are sold as decorative accouterments, and the meat, called Himejako in Japan, is prized as a delicacy".
...which really doesn't do much to explain the decoration at this rather large dark and dank Mausoleum (is that the right word? Everyone is cremated in Japan and I'm not sure what you call the area - can one still say tomb? The central 5 piece structure is the spiritually significant "gorinto").
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Ready for a nice ride to work?
Yes, that's my seat all covered in snow!
I've heard stupid people on the radio saying how we should heat our houses less and ride our bicycles in order to save the planet. But really, why would anyone normal bother? It is clear that most people just want to stay warm and get fat. And it isn't like it is actually going to make a difference to anything...
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Ever since I told William the stoat that the UK was cold grey and miserable, we have adopted that very same weather. It is getting a bit hard work because, unlike in those in the UK, houses in this part of Japan are neither insulated nor centrally heated. This makes the whole thing so much tougher... although Myohonji temple seems to thrive on the atmosphere created...ice and water, light and dark, life and death...(yes there are more pictures to come!)
But before we freeze completely, I had better take it all back.
The UK is lovely bright warm and sunny. Try turning up the saturation on your camera and your pics will look colourful too!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Shooting birds is so much harder than some make it look.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wolfie (the wolf cub we smuggled out of Yellowstone in James' hat ) guards the new Ikea sofa.
The sofa, even though it is Ikea's smallest 2-seater, was a breach delivery (over the balcony, into the 2F though the window). There is a difficult manly thing for men - when should a man help out the delivery men without diminishing the manliness of the manly delivery men. The answer? At the point when you realise the delivery men are heading over the balcony faster than the sofa is coming up. Japanese delivery men are small and dexterous. They never break or scratch anything. But this means they do lack mass... James with his huge grappling hook arms was able to save the day, and no one's manliness seemed diminished by the experience.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Just another typical day on the high street in Kamakura. Still, probably better pilgrims than yakusa methodically shaking down the shop proprietors?
I noticed that William the Weasel has had ten comments on his blog. He really shouldn't worry about it so much. Ten comments is infinitely more than jules' pics has received, and adding another one or two to his tally isn't going to change that.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Japanese winters being very dry, the grass goes completely brown, so some effort must be being put in to keep the golf course this green. After a hard week in the city (that's Yokohama in the background), the business man must sometimes spend the weekend playing "business golf". From the little I know, this sounds like it is even worse than standard golf, as it is more like a ritual than a game; everyone is very polite and the people from the host company have to make sure they lose to their client.
Friday, February 5, 2010
zawazu (early cherry, pink)
robai (yellow wax plum)
ume (plum - actually a kind of apricot - white and pink)
How to identify cherry blossom: the flowers grow in clusters on stems out from the tree branch and each petal has a little divot in its outer edge. In contrast, plum (ume) and apple (boke) and their relations have flowers which appear to be directly attached to the branches, and the outer edges have no divot. ..there may of course be exceptions... but now you need never again be embarrassed by exclaiming "oo lovely cherry blossom" at an ume tree, as so many visitors shamefully do.
Identifying the trees when not in bloom: if you see a really old looking tree with broken bark and twisted branches, sometimes quite dark in colour, held together with string, that's probably ume. Cherry trees are typically more robust and youthful looking. Whether this is partly because the cherry are municipally planted by city workers, and replaced when they get fragile, rather than nurtured by loving gardeners for decades, I am not sure - but I think it is just the way the two trees grow.
[all pics taken by j and J in Kamakura in January]
Thursday, February 4, 2010
More James food. This basil sausage hotdog seemed like a good idea, after a hard morning's ume viewing.
The Japanese learned both sausage and beer from the Germans, and I suppose they learned takeaway and hotdogs from the Americans. Only problem is that takeaway doesn't really work in Japan because people don't eat in public, at least not standing up - apart from ice creams perhaps, or in places where there are lots of food stalls an most people are eating. Luckily the Japanese also think food is just as good cold as hot, which gives them time to go somewhere discreet. Not so us: we ate our funny looking hotdogs outside a bijou art gallery selling paintings for prices with several too many zeros. Oh dear, another faux pas...
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
The runner-up ume blossom on flickr was also taken at Tokeiji, in Kita-Kamakura, but for this one I used my 6.5 foot jointed and extendable bipod with internal stabilisation. These bipods are so cool - if you can get them positioned properly - sometimes it is almost like they have a mind of their own. An additional feature of the bipod is that, with the flick of a few meatballs, it can easily be adapted to carry flat pack furniture.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I could keep people bored for many days with piccies of ume blossom... So that many days becomes just a few I let Flickr decide which are the better ones. This one is winning with: 10 views, 2 comments and 1 favourite... (I have no illusions of grandeur - on Flickr, good pics by good photographers get 100s of views and comments :-) )
[Photo taken at Tokeiji, Kita-Kamakura which is famous for its ume blossom. They were not fully out last weekend so go and visit in teh next couple of weeks!]
Monday, February 1, 2010
My habit is to remark on it being a good or bad year for a particular bloom, or leaf colour, or berry, and James' habit is to reply with cruel sarcasm to the effect that I couldn't possibly have any idea or even remember what last year was like let alone have any idea of the botanical long term mean state on which to base my judgement. So I was quite surprised when he asked me if I thought perhaps it was a good year for ume. Maybe it is the contrast with last year, which was quite poor for ume blossom, but the branches do seem thick with flowers.
The white is plum blossom (ume, 梅, うめ) and the yellow the somewhat earlier flowering wax plum (robai). Photo taken in Kita-Kamakura.