Friday, February 24, 2012

Local Cooling

Ume buds
It's been a loong coold wiinter. At the end of last January I'd already been photographing ume for a couple of weeks. We are almost at the end of February and the ume near our house are not yet apparent. The photo above was taken in a warm part of Kamakura last weekend.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let's park

There is a strange tradition on the posh Motomachi street in Yokohama. Every Sunday morning, sports cars come and ... err ... park outside Starbucks. Are they fuelled by coffee beans? Well of course they are all tin boxes to me, but sometimes they are quite bright coloured - just normal Lamboginies and the like. But last Sunday was different. As I walked down the street several rather interesting olde fashioned cars overtook me. I thought to myself - "I bet they're off to park at bucks". Sure enough when I passed Starbucks there they were all - parked. I had my camera ready.

vintage cars on Motomachi

vintage cars on Motomachi

This one was actually later in the day on a different part of the street, after all the vintage ones had finished refuelling but how could I not photograph an MG in British Racing Green?
MG on Motomachi


Monday, February 20, 2012

Climbing Myoujingatake

Starting at Daiyuzan


We climbed a lot of steps

tengu and Jamesu

sneaked passed the scary guardians of the mountain
at Daiyuzan

found fungi

and snow
pine cone

and more snow
snowy path

and Fuji-san! This is the 4th time we have done this route, but the only time we have had a really clear view of Fuji-san from the top.

Down in Hakone, an onsen and then a beer. No photo of the former, unfortunately so you will have to imagine the beautiful naked ladies relaxing together in a steamy pond surrounded by trees.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

You and I cycle

I may have gained the Power of Eternal Life, but James has not been idle. He can now unicycle into the sunset. It is a testament to the power of perseverance.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Power of Eternal Life

At last it has come to pass that I can just go and sit down forever under a tree in Kenchoji (pictured above), and not get thrown out of the country for doing so. Yes I have been granted permanent residency, or as the kanji (永住権)may be literally translated, the Power of Eternal Life. I had thought it was going to be merely permission to stay in Japan, but now I realise it is so much more, I don't feel half so bad about the fact it has taken an extraordinary decade and 6 months to obtain. Not a moment too soon either - our job interviews are tomorrow, so when they decide to make an example of one or both of us, we won't be immediately excommunicated.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

wise restaurant selection.

Wakamiyaooji and jinrikisha
To eat at the most tasteless lunchtime restaurants in Kamakura one must be prepared to queue, but the guy at the front of the queue looks pretty grumpy about it. He should have walked 2 minutes to the best Indian restaurant in Japan (perhaps), T-side. There is never a queue there, as the food is really tasty. In fact it is a general rule in Japan, once again opposite from the rest of the world - busy restaurants are best avoided as the food is usually tasteless. Once the flavour gets up to 6/10, the clientele start to diminish. Up to 8/10 the restaurants struggle to survive and often close down.


Monday, February 13, 2012


Occasionally it is nice to feel the benefit of living in the world's largest (according to BBC's More or Less) megalopolis, so on Sunday we went to the CP+ photo show in Yokohama to diddle with all the new gizmos. As it happens, this year almost every company has new stuff out - I think they are all just getting back on schedule after the various apocalypsies of last year (tsunamis and floods). While this meant I got to see lots of new stuff, I didn't actually get to diddle with much as there were typically 40 minute queues for the hot stuff (X-Pro1, OM-D, K-01, D800... and if you don't know what those codes are, you probably don't want to know). Not being such a hopeless gizmo geek, James was bored stupid, although we both enjoyed the small area at the back of the hall where there were some actual photographs on display.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Piece of Cake

And here is the piece of cake that one must consume after running to work:

SaHa Tortay
It is not as easy as it looks, however since, in order to enjoy this piece of cake one must ask the Starbucks staff for a "SaHa TorTay" while pointing desperately at the cake visible behind the glass. However, it is worth the linguistic gymnastics, as it is considerably better than the cake you get at that Hotel Sacher in Vienna. The "WaHip" (the white stuff) costs 30yen extra and they weigh the plate while they put it on to make sure you don't overdose. Consequently we are wondering if we really need to go to the EGU in Vienna this year.
Erratum: James says that the run to work is only 10.4km rather than 11.5km. Oh well.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Another dose of Pink

Bet you thought I'd run out of pink, didn't you? James keeps making me run to work in the morning. It is only 11.5km and starts with a 200m vertical climb. Piece of cake ...and each time I am a minute faster. However, these are not my running shoes. No, indeed - but they are normal winter wear for the Tokyoite day tripping to Kamakura, an event which in itself typically requires a few miles of walking.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

IPCC First-Order-Draft

Last night I had a nightmare that Susan Solomon and Thomas Stocker were trying to steal my cubicle. I am very fond of my cubicle as, being by the window, it is warm and bright and sunny every cold winter morning. It can be no coincidence that the reviews for the IPCC FOD are due. Here is a calming Zen temple (Myohonji again) to make it all better.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Temple Cat

Myohonji temple cat
Myohonji, Kamakura. I prefer this photo small. Of course you may click on it if you want to see it bigger. It is a very friendly cat, and will come and purr on your knee given half a chance. It will also climb on people's tombstones, and drink the cups of water left at the graves for the spirits.


Friday, February 3, 2012

More pink

In case you were getting withdrawal symptoms, here is some more pink from Japan. Once again the magic botan (peony) at Hachimangu are flowering. I still have no idea how it is done - such large flowers blooming in midwinter.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

not so yum yum

Bowls is popoular so should you fail to get in before noon you may have to settle for one of the stalls in the grounds at Hachimangu. You can usually find a toffee grape (I must photograph one of these wonderous delicacies for you some time), but on major festivals there are many alternatives, none of which are at all appetising.

Roll over Scotland, these are battered deep fried whole potatoes:

Stall food at Hachimangu

Hiroshima style okonomiyaki:
Stall food at Hachimangu
Okonomiyaki is batter with various tasteless stuff on. The Hiroshima style being because of the particular stuff. Usually served with a mildly unpleasant tasting sauce.


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