Friday, August 28, 2009


Downtown Toyama.

Well, not much new to add today, but here are a few random pics from the past month. Moving this weekend out to an apartment practically on the beach in Hamamatsu, a nice city near some good surf on the East Coast of Japan, in between Tokyo and Nagoya. So stay tuned for some new photos of some new scenes.

Rooftop patterns.

Downtown Toyama Dancers

Shrine in the foothills of the Tateyama mountains. Natural spring water flows abundantly here and is incorporated into shine, you can drink the water here straight out of the ground and it tastes better than anything you could ever buy in a bottle.

Rain drops on a leaf, my attempt at macro photography. For any photo geeks, I tried to to reverse mount two lenses together to make an extreme macro lens, I think I should just pony up the $ for a good macro lens.

More of this to come, hopefully...

A sneak peek at Reef's new line of spring "toilet" sandals.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Today, I had the privilege to tag along with Yoshimura family in their Nashi orchard during their seasonal harvest. Nashi is a Japanese Pear, bigger and a little harder than a standard pear. Yoshimura-san has several acres of Nashi orchard in Toyama and was nice enough to let me tag along and take photos in the morning before I was put to work.

Once the nashi are picked, they are sorted on the back of trailer by size and quality. The crates are then loaded onto the back of a mini pickup to take into the factory down the street.

Every step that you took in the orchard would disturb rabid pack of these guys, known as Semi. These Semi resemble giant flying cockroaches, but they are pretty harmless. After being bombarded by them all morning and having them fly into my head, face and mouth, I felt like I had bonded with them. Sometimes they would excrete a liquid as they buzzed my head. According to the workers, it was pee, but I should not worry because they pee honey.

"Put the Gaijin to work!" After taking about 200 photos, it was time for me to put down the camera and pick up a crate to earn my keep. I'm not sure what my official title was for the next couple of hours, but every time one of the crates filled up, it was my duty to haul it over the back of the trailer for sorting and bring an empty crate back out to the crew.

Yoshimura-san's wife, Yoko, taking care of business.

This factory is just a short tractor ride down the road. All of the local orchard owners bring in their nashi to the factory for sorting and shipping.

The whole operation here really brought to mind the phrase and the meaning of Itadakimasu!, and the whole notion that each time you sit down for meal, you should consider all of the effort that went into growing, harvesting, sorting, packaging, distributing and preparing that food that you are about to eat. Many hands took part getting that food to your table, so give thanks and keep that in mind when you are about to chow down!

Big Thanks Yoshimura-san!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kurobe Gorge

On a whim, we decided to head up into a little town called Uchiyama at the base of the Tateyama mountains because we heard that there was a brewery with a tour and a tasting of a the various types of beer. Mmmm... Beer. Once we got to the town, however, we couldn't find the brewery but discovered this cool little rickety open-air train that runs up the Kurobe Gorge, a river-carved valley that runs behind the Tateyama mountain range. The train hugs the side of the hill and runs up about 10 miles through some unbelievable scenery and up to the end of the tracks where you can find hot springs, jumping monkeys, and some hiking trails. Unfortunately we only had about a 1/2 hour at the top because we had to catch the last train back, but the train ride itself was fun, and I plan to make it back, next time better prepared to make a day or two out of it, and to find the brewery.

Hanging off the side of a moving train made it hard to compose a decent shot, but these were taken on the way up. I plan making it back for some hikes to take advantage of the views.

End of the road, just enough time to explore for 30 min, then make it back for the last train down.

Wheres the brewery?!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gohyaku rakan

This is an interesting place here in Toyama called Gohyaku rakan (500 rakan, or disciples of Buddha). The 500 rakan statues are situated on a hillside overlooking a temple. We had a hard time finding it because it is pretty hidden in the hills with just a dark stairway leading to the site. Every one of the 500 rakan has a slightly different expression although many are weathered and most of the detail is lost. I was going to do a portrait series of all of them, but ended up getting attacked by mosquitos every time I paused to take a photo. This place definitely had an eerie vibe to it, not scary, but very silent and dark, with the feeling that all 500 rakan were watching me as I walked around.