Brighton Rocks Again

At the end of the month, Alistair and I went down to Brighton for the weekend to attend BarCamp Brighton7. Seems hard to believe that the event has been going that long, but we are both regular attendees.

Orton Pavilion
Orton Pavilion

On Saturday morning we lead a little geocaching/photowalk around the Lanes and made a few interesting shots while the sun was out. Then I discovered I’d left my spare charged battery for the Lumix GF1 at home and the battery I had with me was just about flat – so picture taking was very limited for the rest of the weekend! Oh well, never mind. Here is a selction of images I did manage to take:

Drain Cover Lover!

As well as the amazing architecture and culture available to photograph in Japan, I also noticed they have amazing manhole covers. Not like our boring old ironwork with just the makers’ name on top. Some were coloured and patterned beyond expectation!

So I started to look out for them as my trip wore on, and came home with quite a collection. Here are some of the best:

Kotojitoro Lantern - Kanazawa
Kotojitoro Lantern – Kanazawa
Colourful Flowers - Matsumoto
Colourful Flowers – Matsumoto
Sprite On A Fire Truck - Kurashiki
Sprite On A Fire Truck – Kurashiki
Yellow 60 - Yokohama
Yellow 60 – Yokohama
Clipper - Yokohama
Clipper – Yokohama

Here’s the full set for you to admire:

Tokyo Roundup

I decided some of my final days in Tokyo would be spent relaxing after such a hectic trip around the country. Here is a flavour of each of the days which I’ve only written about in my September Photo A Day diary.

16th September

First full day at my Tokyo apartment. Spent the day relaxing in my cosy billet and having a little walk to Shinjuku. See Day #1721.

My Tokyo Place
My Tokyo Place

18th September

Toy shopping in Nakano Broadway! Then a little bit of planking in Sensō-ji. See Day #1723.

Nakano Broadway
Nakano Broadway

19th September

A visit to NHK, then more shopping, this time at Tokyo station and Akihabara. See Day #1724.

Hurry, Hurry
Hurry, Hurry

21st September

Back to Nakano Broadway to marvel once more at the never-ending toyshops! See Day #1726.

Boxes And Boxes Of Stuff
Boxes And Boxes Of Stuff

23rd September

Grizzly old rainy day spent at the apartment sorting photos. I only nipped out to forage at the supermarket next door. See Day #1728.

Rain, Rain, Go Away!
Rain, Rain, Go Away!

24th September

A sunny day at last! Visited Yoyogi Park via the National Gymnasium at Shibuya, then onto the Shintō shrine at nearby Meiji-jingu. In the evening there was the first of the two Asia shows in Shibuya that I’d stayed on in Tokyo to attend. See Day #1729.

Yoyogi National Gymnasium
Yoyogi National Gymnasium

25th September

Day spent sorting and packing before going to the final Asia gig in Shibuya with Tomoo in the evening. See Day #1730.

The Bright Lights Of Shibuya
The Bright Lights Of Shibuya

26th September

Sad to be leaving! An early start to catch the N’EX service back to Narita airport, and homeward  bound. See Day #1731.


Final Thoughts

Japan is a wonderful place to visit. It’s people are warm and friendly – even if you don’t speak their language. The culture and architecture are amongst some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and this trip was the culmination of many years’ longing to visit the country. And I can thoroughly recommend Inside Japan Tours who arranged my trip without a hitch.

So for now, it may be sayonara, but rest assured, I’ll be back as soon as I can! In the meantime, here is a selection of shots from my time in Toyko:

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All About Tea

Follow That Car! - Crossing the Ooi River
Follow That Car! – Crossing the Ooi River

Today was All About Tea!

I love the stuff, so it seemed only right that I should spend some time seeing how it is produced. Luckily my Japanese friend Tomoo (who is a Professor of Biology and expert in all things tea-related) took me on a great day out to one of Japan’s most productive tea cultivating areas around Shamida and Shizuoka.

I jumped on another Shinkansen and met up with him in Shizuoka where we changed to a local train for Shamida. Then we hired a car for the day to visit some nearby sights.

Driving A Tea Harvester
Driving A Tea Harvester

Our first stop was the NARO Institute of Vegetable and Tea Science where Tomoo used to work a few years ago. Their fascinating open day was very informative, showing how tea is cultivated, dried, tested and blended. Plenty of samples to be had, too – green tea in all the varieties you could possibly want.

It was great that Tomoo was able to catch up with some of his old colleagues, and I got to ride in a tea harvesting machine! I’ve always wanted a go on a Kawasaki – but I wasn’t quite expecting this!

We had to drive a little way to our next stop – lunch in a traditional restaurant of a local tea factory, Grinpia Makinohara. The feast was entirely flavoured with green tea – and utterly delicious! This nearly made it for Day #1727‘s shot:

Green Tea Feast
Green Tea Feast

On the way back to town, we stopped at Tomoo’s favourite shop which sold all manner of tea-related goodies. He’s a well-known customer and stocks up there whenever he is in the area. As he lives a long way away now, that’s not very often – so the owner was delighted to see him. So much so that we were offered tasty green tea ice cream and other freebies!

Partaking Of Tea
Partaking Of Tea

With our bags laden, we headed to Ocha No Sato – the World Tea Museum. Lots of exhibits to take in there, including the reconstruction of a tea house and garden designed by Kobori Enshū, who was a famous 17th Century master of the tea ceremony.

Upholding the centuries-old tradition, we watched as the tea ceremony or otemae was performed for us.

We were also able to grind some of our own green tea powder in a hand-powered granite mill, and take it away as a souvenir.

The final destination of our little tour was to visit Horai-bashi, the longest wooden pedestrian bridge in the world, spanning the river Ooi in 894m. Of course, we walked across and back – just to say we had done it! But the view from the other side was rather impressive, so definitely worth the trip:

How Far To The Other Side?
How Far To The Other Side?

Here are some more pictures which I made during the day: