Friday, March 29, 2013


I missed this tree last year because I was too late. It blooms early. This year I was probably a bit too early but it was still nice anyway. But I think I'm all sakura'd out by now.

IMG_6408_3-23 Sakura in Niyodogawa

With all these nice trees come crowds of people I don't want to see. I just want the rivers and mountains to myself. So there is no other option.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Don't Call It A Day

I watched it rain all day from my desk. Then at about 4PM it stopped. The moisture rich air and fog coiled itself around the valley and hillsides. It always reminds me of the first day I arrived here. The plane touched down through dark clouds and it was raining heavily shortly after that. As we got closer to my new home, the mountains rose up and the clouds thickly swirled around, rising and falling. I was mesmerized. I had seen clouds like this on journeys between Osaka and Nagoya but not to the same extent. Instead of trudging home to sit at my computer after having spent the entire day sitting at the computer at school, I jumped in the car and sped towards the setting sun, thick clouds, and fog.

IMG_6264_3-18 Evening Drive to Ikegawa

The humidity was so high that when I first tried to take pictures my camera wouldn't stop fogging up. I hate the humidity. I fear my camera will get ruined somehow or the inside element of the lens will get mold on it. I try to be very careful of damp conditions. Today was surprising despite the nature of the weather.

IMG_6247_3-18 Evening Drive to Ikegawa

That boy on the bike startled me. He called out sheepishly, "Blaine-sensei?" I said, "Yes." There wasn't even a hello or how are you in the conversation. That was it. My mind was consumed with those clouds.
 IMG_6271_3-18 Evening Drive to Ikegawa

I kept going just in case something good presented itself. I find it's best to take the risk no matter what. The reward is high and the losses even greater. I like to gamble on the weather rather than with real money. Well, I guess it's time and fuel.

IMG_6280_3-18 Evening Drive to Ikegawa

There, that is what I was looking for. But the light was quickly vanishing behind the billowing wall of clouds. It was time to retrace my steps back home.

IMG_6294_3-18 Evening Drive to Ikegawa

I had time to steal one more thing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Blessings and Curses of Spring

The other weekend was prime for the plum blossoms. They arrive much sooner than the cherry blossoms but there are some out at the same time. I went to a local plum orchard with some friends to take in the flowering of spring.

IMG_6065_3-9 Ume Festival

It was probably the warmest day it had been so far this season. The mountains were shrouded in a lovely curtain of white. I think that is one of the scarier parts of spring. All that pollen is wafting off the trees and inundating the air.

IMG_6062_3-9 Ume Festival

I'll share this moment with you too.

IMG_6075_3-9 Ume Festival

The plum orchards have paths running around and through them. There are large boulders that fell into the valley long ago. It makes for an interesting setting.

IMG_6068_3-9 Ume Festival

IMG_6116_3-9 Ume Festival

IMG_6114_3-9 Ume Festival

My head started to hurt earlier in the day. I would have gladly put out a blanket and lied under the trees sipping cold water. Alas, the pollen would hit me like a truck come the evening.

IMG_6127_3-9 Ume Festival

Cherry blossom viewing seems to be more popular for some reason.

 IMG_6118_3-9 Ume Festival

There were lots of people out but not enough for it to feel crowded.

IMG_6144_3-9 Ume Festival

It's just too easy to photograph flowers and waterfalls I tell you. I feel like I'm cheating at this.

IMG_6155_3-9 Ume Festival

IMG_6179_3-9 Ume Festival

It's a sea of plum flowers keeping us away.

IMG_6190_3-9 Ume Festival

I really wanted to lie down and fall asleep under the trees. It's like a fantasy land.

IMG_6200_3-9 Ume Festival

By the time you meander through the orchard you have grown a bit tired of the flowering trees though.

IMG_6208_3-9 Ume Festival

I guess it's good they only come once a year.

IMG_6195_3-9 Ume Festival

But the hyotan and shidare are calling my name very soon... I have no choice but to go.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Tad Too Fast on the Plum Blossoms

I broke new ground today. That felt good. Without a cloud in sight there was no choice but to hit the road. Barring a bad case of sugi and hinoki fever I intend to fully enjoy spring. I find every season in Japan stimulating to my senses. Winter numbs it so I guess that doesn't count.

IMG_5972_3-6 Heike Waterfall

There weren't too many cars to dodge today. No need to get impatient. They didn't expect me just as much as I didn't expect them. Well at the end of the afternoon there were a ton of cars coming at me. I guess it wasn't as rural as it seemed perhaps.


The plum blossoms are nearing their peak right about now. They sneak up and I don't take advantage soon enough before the cherry trees take over. There are plenty of others to take missed opportunities. I'm sure the spring flowering is one big exception to my no flower picture rule. It's mostly a rule.

IMG_5975_3-6 Heike Waterfall

I felt kind of sick as I was coming down from the mountain ridge into this area. There were so many turns and the pollen swirling in the sun beams felt dizzying. It hurts my head just thinking about it now. I also think how I met a random guy in the forest a few months ago. He claimed he was used to the pollen because he grew up around it all his life. Well I'm probably resistant to poison ivy but not because I grew up around it. Whatever makes you feel better, right?

IMG_5993_3-6 Heike Waterfall

A plum orchard sat on the bank of the river opposite the road I was on. I drove by three times or so to see if there was a foot bridge across the stream. Things weren't looking good. But the river rocks were big enough to guide me across. The plum trees weren't at their peak though. It was bit of a useless endeavor. I enjoyed trying to get across the river more than the trees. I almost had a branch whack me into the river as well. I can vividly recall many a close call. My camera lens would have never made it up to me.

IMG_6050_3-6 Heike Waterfall

Favorite thing number 34 about Shikoku are waterfalls. I might have said that before or several times or a lot. It doesn't matter though. From school to waterfall in the same day always spells success.

IMG_6044_3-6 Heike Waterfall

Speaking of poison ivy, I can't remember the last time I had it. Not that this is a picture of poison ivy or anything. I suppose if I'm not affected by it that consuming it wouldn't be a problem either. That's still a fear of mine just like drinking a bee on accident out an open pop can. It could sting your throat and cut off your air supply. Scary stuff. I'm not that scared but it never hurts to be conscious of everything around you.

IMG_6052_3-6 Heike Waterfall

Still such a shame the trees weren't more generous with me today.

IMG_6041_3-6 Heike Waterfall

The waterfall gods weren't going to let me down. They rarely do.

IMG_6038_3-6 Heike Waterfall


Maybe I should put a waterfall ban on myself just like the flower one. I find it so hard because water is so easy to take a nice picture of. I think back to webshots that my sister used to use for desktop backgrounds. There was a beautiful image of water falling over mossy rocks. I always remember that. It is where my preference for shooting water this way came from.

IMG_6024_3-6 Heike Waterfall

There is Heike fall in it's full glory.

IMG_6010_3-6 Heike Waterfall

That's also where it ends.

IMG_6060_3-6 Heike Waterfall

It's as profound as you make it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

From Feb. 24th

There is value everywhere. I hope someone shares it with me.

Nakatsu Valley Stream