One of the often overlooked but essentially Japanese experiences is the slow train journey through the Japanese countryside in summer. One of the reasons I get to travel around so much in Japan is that I don’t mind spending hours and hours on the train, just staring out the window. A year and a half ago I took these photos while traveling through northern Gunma prefecture, between Minakami and Takasaki. It is difficult to get good photos through a moving train window but I still had to share these with you. The landscape in these photos are absolutely typical of the countryside, with the buildings, the bamboo forests, the distant mountains, village stations and much more. Just looking at these photos makes my heart ache for the next train journey through the summer Japan I love so much! Oh, and can you spot the real life house of Satsuki and Mei from the animated movie “My Neighbor Totoro” (となりのトトロ) in the sixth photo? Doesn’t it look just like in the movie? I could live here, just a couple of hundred meters past the Gokan station in Minakami-cho. Don’t miss the slow train when you visit Japan next!
Yesterday I woke up to see even central Tokyo covered in snow! Snow like this doesn’t happen very often in the capital and it is usually all gone by noon. I went to the most photogenic place I could imagine, the Imperial Palace area to see what it would look like. Here’s a few pictures from yesterday morning. It’s the first snow photography I have done in more than a decade and it shows! I really need more practice with this subject.
As I was snapping away and stumbling around the palace grounds (it was really slippery) more and more tourists arrived to take pictures of this rare scene. Even a few News crews were unpacking their camera gear and in the afternoon most newspapers had a photo like this, of the palace in snow. Once in a life time, maybe?
Last week while shooting in Tochigi and Ibaraki prefectrues I took the opportunity and shot some photos of the skies. Living in central Tokyo means that you are not exactly spoiled for skies or horizons. If you live in a place that is far more horizontal than vertical you might not be too interested in this post. For me, any glimpse of a proper horizon is worth a lot. This year we have had very few typhoons passing over the Tokyo area. None, if I am correct. Usually we have between 5-10 typhoons every year but so far it’s been quiet.
The first photo is shot from a moving car, passing through a sea of rice fields in eastern Tochigi prefecture towards to city of Oyama. This beautiful rainbow broke out perfectly over a bank of clouds lit from the setting sun in the west. There is a full size version here, should you feel like updating your desktop wallpaper! Every time I see a rainbow I am reminded the sky is a far better lens than anything I will ever be able to put on my camera.
The second photo is the same area a little later, showing the last rays of the sun hitting the clouds to the west. Beautiful. Again, there’s a full size version for your desktop decorations here.
The third picture shows the skies over the Pacific Ocean to the east of Ibaraki Prefecture. If I had a boat or a really fast submarine I could go to Hawaii straight from here. Unfortunately all I had was my camera, and not even an umbrella, this is where it started to rain. Full version here.
The fourth and last shows the big wheel in Hitachi Kaihinkouen, a theme park without a theme in Ibaraki prefecture (the old name of Ibaraki was Hitachi). This is also the field where they hold one of Japan’s biggest rock festivals every year. From this picture it’s hard to imagine that there were a couple of hundred thousand screaming rockers here just a few days ago. Full size version here.